Updated on 04/30/2013 1:14PM

Kentucky Oaks: Dreaming of Julia draws post 8 as 3-1 morning-line favorite

Barbara D. Livingston
Dreaming of Julia, the 3-1 morning-line favorite for Friday's Kentucky Oaks, drew post No. 8 under John Velazquez.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – In any other year, Sal Santoro and his stable star, Rose to Gold, might be here at Churchill Downs as major players for the Kentucky Oaks.

But in a year when the Oaks shapes up with arguably one its toughest fields in years, Santoro has a 15-1 shot on the morning line – despite Rose to Gold having won four stakes and five of seven starts overall.

“It’s all pretty darn scary from where I’m standing,” a smiling Santoro said before a field of 11 fillies was drawn Tuesday for the 139th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Oaks.

It is a deep Oaks cast indeed, with the favorites for the 1 1/8-mile filly classic being Dreaming of Julia, Beholder, Unlimited Budget, and Midnight Lucky.

Dreaming of Julia is listed as a lukewarm 3-1 morning-line favorite, although some observers who saw her win the Gulfstream Park Oaks by 21 3/4 lengths might be scoffing at that in belief that her eye-popping 114 Beyer Speed Figure from that victory makes her a standout.

Dreaming of Julia, with John Velazquez back to ride, was assigned post 8 as one of four fillies from the Todd Pletcher stable in the Oaks. The daughter of A.P. Indy will run under the familiar silks of Stonestreet Stables, best known as the owner of Curlin and Rachel Alexandra.

Beholder (post 3, Garrett Gomez) is the reigning divisional champion and has won two of three starts this year on her home Southern California circuit for owner B. Wayne Hughes and trainer Richard Mandella.

Another of the Pletcher fillies is Unlimited Budget (post 4, Javier Castellano), one of three unbeatens in the field. Unlimited Budget, owned by the Repole Stable, has never been seriously challenged in winning all four prior starts.

Also unbeaten is Midnight Lucky (post 2, Rafael Bejarano), who has gained considerable support here through her recent morning training moves for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. Midnight Lucky will be attempting to replicate what Plum Pretty did for Baffert two years ago by winning the Oaks off an easy romp in the Sunland Park Oaks.

The third unbeaten is Close Hatches (post 11, Joel Rosario), one of two fillies in the race for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, with the other being Flashy Gray (post 10, Junior Alvarado). Close Hatches is 3 for 3 after capturing the Grade 2 Gazelle at Aqueduct in her most recent start.

The other Pletcher fillies are Silsita (post 1, Gary Stevens) and Princess of Sylmar (post 6, Mike Smith). Pletcher has won the Oaks twice, with Ashado (2004) and Rags to Riches (2007).

Rose to Gold (post 9, Calvin Borel), the winner of the Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park last out, helps round out a lineup that also includes Seaneen Girl and Pure Fun.

“I’m not afraid of anybody,” Santoro said, “although obviously with this kind of field, I have all the respect in the world for these horses and their trainers.”

Post time for the Oaks is 5:45 p.m. Eastern. It will be shown live on a one-hour broadcast on the NBC Sports Network (5 p.m.).

Five other stakes will be run on the Oaks undercard. First post is 10:30 a.m.

General admission Friday is $30, with advance online purchases worth a $5 discount. A “wear pink” theme is in effect once again in recognition of the fight against breast cancer.

Kentucky Oaks
Purse: $1 million; 1 1/8 miles; Grade 1
Post, Horse, Jockey, Morning-line odds
1. Silsita, G.Stevens, 20-1
2. Midnight Lucky, R.Bejarano, 9-2
3. Beholder, G.Gomez, 7-2
4. Unlimited Budget, J.Castellano, 7-2
5. Seaneen Girl, R.Napravnik, 20-1
6. Princess of Sylmar, M.Smith, 20-1
7. Pure Fun, J.Leparoux, 30-1
8. Dreaming of Julia, J.Velazquez, 3-1
9. Rose to Gold, C.Borel, 15-1
10. Flashy Gray, J.Alvarado, 15-1
11. Close Hatches, J.Rosario, 6-1
Track odds
Post time: Friday, 5:45 p.m. Eastern
All starters carry 121 pounds
Television: NBC Sports Network, 5-6 p.m.