Kentucky Oaks update for May 29

May 29, 2020 Sara Dacus/

The Kentucky Oaks, America’s premier and most lucrative race for 3-year-old fillies, will be held Friday, September 4. Each week this series examines aspects of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks. This week we take a closer look at Venetian Harbor, one of the contenders on the leaderboard
Venetian Harbor closed the Kentucky Oaks future wager pool as the individual favorite. In her career debut, she finished second by three-quarters of a length. She dominated her next two starts, winning by a combined 20 front-running lengths, including the Las Virgenes (G2) at Santa Anita. In the Fantasy at Oaklawn, Venetian Harbor’s first start outside of California, she went off as the favorite and led until the final furlong where she yielded to Swiss Skydiver, who currently tops the Road to the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard. The two finished over ten lengths ahead of a competitive field that included juvenile filly champion British Idiom and four G2 winners. Trainer Richard Baltas says Venetian Harbor’s next race may be the Acorn Stakes (G1) on the June 20 Belmont Stakes undercard. 
Baltas grew up in Huntington Beach and became interested in racing when he went to Santa Anita with his father. He went to the Kentucky Derby with his sister in 1983 and attended the Kentucky Equine Institute in Lexington in 1984 and started in racing mowing grass on horse farms. He met his wife at Hollywood Park while she was running the cafe. They married (his first marriage), when he was 47. 2019 was a successful year for Baltas: he ranked 14th in earnings among North American trainers. 

The Road to the Kentucky Oaks resumes Saturday, June 6, with two prep races that will bring the picture of the race into clearer focus: the Dogwood Stakes at Churchill, offering 20-8-4-2 points, and the Santa Anita Oaks with 100-40-20-10 points. Santa Anita’s seven-stakes blockbuster card also includes the Santa Anita Derby, a race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, and the Hollywood Gold Cup. 

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