Winchell Thoroughbreds’ homebred Untapable, who has won her two starts in 2014 by a combined 17 ¼ lengths, has been installed as the 4-5 morning-line favorite in a field of 13 3-year-old fillies for Friday’s 140th running of the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I).
The Oaks, to be contested at 1 1/8 miles on the main track and worth $570,400 to the winner, highlights a 12-race program Friday that includes five other stakes. First post time is 10:30 a.m. (all times Eastern) with the Oaks going as the 11th race at 5:49 p.m.
The Kentucky Oaks – the Derby’s sister race – is the nation’s most lucrative race for 3-year-old fillies. The winner receives a silver trophy plus an estimated $564,200 payday and a garland of pink lilies (first awarded in 1991). Preference to start is given to fillies that earned the most points in 30 designated races that comprise the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks.”
The weather forecast for Friday calls for temperatures in the low 60s with a 10 percent chance of rain.
The Oaks will be televised nationally from 4-6 p.m. on NBCSN.
Untapable, who is undefeated in two starts at Churchill Downs, is trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Rosie Napravnik, both of whom have Oaks victories on their resumes. Asmussen saddled 2005 winner Summerly and Napravnik was aboard Believe You Can, winner of the 2012 renewal.
Untapable will break from post position 13.
Second choice on the morning line at 6-1 is Arnold Zetcher and Michael Tabor’s Fashion Plate, trained by Simon Callaghan.
Fashion Plate has won her past three starts with the most recent two coming in the Las Virgenes (GI) and Santa Anita Oaks (GI) with Gary Stevens aboard. Stevens, who won the Oaks in 1986 on Tiffany Lass and in 1999 on Silverbulletday, will exit post position seven on Fashion Plate.
Todd Pletcher, a three-time Oaks-winning trainer, will send out two starters: Mathis Stable’s My Miss Sophia and Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings and Philip Steinberg’s Got Lucky.
My Miss Sophia is undefeated in three starts and in her most recent outing won the Gazelle (GII) at Aqueduct in her stakes debut. Javier Castellano has the mount and will exit post position 11.
Got Lucky finished second in the Gazelle in her most recent start and will break from post position 12 under John Velazquez.
Pletcher will be trying to become the first trainer since D. Wayne Lukas in 1989-90 (Open Mind and Seaside Attraction) to win the Oaks in consecutive years. He saddled Princess of Sylmar to victory last year to boost his Oaks win total to three. Pletcher won the Oaks in 2004 with Ashado and in 2007 with Rags to Riches.
Bob Baffert, a two-time Oaks-winning trainer (Plum Pretty in 2011 and Silverbulletday in 1999), will send out Ria Antonia for Christopher Dunn and Loooch Racing Stable. Runner-up in the Saint Anita Oaks (GI) in her most recent start, Ria Antonia will break from post position two and be ridden by Mike Smith, winner of the 2013 Oaks on Princess of Sylmar.
Seeking a second Oaks victory is trainer Dallas Stewart. Stewart also was the part owner of 2006 winner Lemons Forever and on Friday he will send Lemons Forever’s daughter Unbridled Forever to the post in the Oaks. Robby Albarado has the mount and will break from post position nine.
Also pursuing a second Oaks victory is Calvin Borel, who was aboard Rachel Alexandra in her 20 ¼-length tour de force in 2009. Borel rides On Cloud Nine’s Sugar Shock, who will exit post position three, for trainer Doug Anderson.
The roster of Oaks winners reads like “Who’s Who” of outstanding 3-year-old fillies, including 26 victors that would be named Champion 3-Year-Old Filly at year’s end.
Ten Oaks champs are enshrined in horse racing’s Hall of Fame: Ashado (2004), Bold ‘n Determined (1980), Cicada (1962), Dark Mirage (1968), Davona Dale (1979), Princess Doreen (1924), Princess Rooney (1983), Real Delight (1952), Silverbulletday (1999) and Susan’s Girl (1972).
The field for the Kentucky Oaks, from the rail out, is as follows with jockey and morning line odds: Please Explain (Jose Lezcano, 50-1), Ria Antonia (Smith, 10-1), Sugar Shock (Borel, 12-1), Rosalind (Joel Rosario, 8-1), Thank You Marylou (Julien Leparoux, 30-1), Kiss Moon (Victor Espinoza, 30-1), Fashion Plate (Stevens, 6-1), Aurelia’s Belle, Channing Hill, 50-1), Unbridled Forever (Albarado, 12-1), Empress of Midway (Corey Nakatani, 50-1), My Miss Sophia (Castellano, 8-1), Got Lucky (Velazquez, 20-1) and Untapable (Napravnik, 4-5). All starters will carry 121 pounds.
Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on May 3, 2014. The 2014 Spring Meet at Churchill Downs is scheduled for April 26-June 29. The track has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record eight times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.ChurchillDowns.com.