05/02/2016 1:46PM

Kentucky Oaks a wide-open race

Barbara D. Livingston
Rachel's Valentina is one of several fillies who could be the morning line favorite in the Kentucky Oaks.

Ever since the evening of April 17, when the connections of Songbird dropped the bombshell that they were declaring her out of the Kentucky Oaks as the heavy favorite, the filly classic has been a real scramble.

A half-dozen fillies in what is sure to be an oversubscribed field can now be considered favorites, with Rachel’s Valentina a likely lukewarm program choice after entries were drawn here Tuesday. Lewis Bay, the winner of the Gazelle Stakes at Aqueduct in her most recent start for Chad Brown, is part of that top flight of contenders.

“When I handicap the race, I see a handful of horses that can win it, but she is one of that handful,” said Brown. “I’ve been impressed with several of the Oaks fillies this week watching them train here. It’s a wide-open race.”

As many as 18 fillies can be listed on the program for the Oaks, although only 14 can start. An also-eligibles list of as many as four horses is live until scratch time of 9 a.m. Eastern on Friday, which is the same scratch time for the Kentucky Derby.

The Oaks is one of six graded stakes here Friday, the others being the Grade 1 La Troienne, Grade 2 Alysheba, Grade 2 Eight Belles, Grade 3 Edgewood, and Grade 3 Twin Spires Turf Sprint.

Business up at opener

Despite steady rain, business figures were up substantially for the Downs After Dark opener Saturday night at Churchill.

Attendance was 19,296, up nearly 12 percent over the comparable date for 2015, while all-sources handle of $6.28 million on an 11-race card was up 35 percent.

Toews On Ice got an 84 Beyer Speed Figure in winning the featured William Walker Stakes, giving David Lopez his first victory as a journeyman rider, while Julien Leparoux rode four winners on the card, including a sweep of the last three races.

The all-time marks for a spring opener – and any of 37 Downs After Dark cards run here since 2009 – was set in 2011, when a crowd of 38,142 contributed to an all-sources handle of $8.86 million.

George Mayo More than 1 year ago
And its still a Jockeys race.
George Mayo More than 1 year ago
Thank you John for your comment. I had an old handicapper years ago tell me, ya dont know how that horse feels, he may not feel like running today.
Bob Struberg More than 1 year ago
Weather in 80's most week. Track will be in great shape and ready
Richard Kennedy More than 1 year ago
To Paul Gundy:
Are you a veterinarian? Funny, I didn’t see DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) after your name.  The Kentucky State Veterinarian will decide if the horse is "fit to run."
John More than 1 year ago
And now it seems we will be dealing with a off track ! ...................yikkees !
Whats next, all this chatter that "Uncle Moe's" cant get the distance ? Maybe because he got hurt before he had the chance to try 1 1/4 .................more frivolous info that is not needed !
John More than 1 year ago
ANY one of us who has animals, dogs or cats fully knows well, some days they listen and some days they ignore you ! For those of us who fool heartedly think we can outfool the "luck of racing "
plus an animals mind,..... are a loony bunch, and Im just as big a "loon " Its a fun sport to play, but putting too much into handicapping has made ZERO handicappers rich , no matter what they say ! Ill take a ounce of luck over the DRF everyday of the week !
Paul Gundy More than 1 year ago

Should Gun Runner be scratched from the Kentucky Derby forhis breathing difficulties resulting in "roaring" as he is exercised.  Mr. Assmussen, WinchellThoroughbreds LLC , Three Chimneys Farm and horse racing loverseverywhere, I ask you to consider the horse and the bettors of the sport.  The horses breathing difficulties will be exponentiallytested when he has to compete at 1 1/4 miles against 19 other topthoroughbreds. Should the horse be put through this stress? Should the bettorswho are almost uniformly uninformed of the horses condition be allowed to risktheir money. This is another potentially devastating public relations disasterabout to happen. Mr. Assmussen have you not faced enough of such scrutiny? Did wenot learn a lesson from the Life At Ten incident in the Breeders Cup to payattention to signs that a horse is not physically right?  

I will freely admit the horse istraining fantastically. He has progressed nicely in his bid for the Derby. Icommend Mr. Assmussen in his training. However, if you review the video clipson Derby news @Kentucky Derby CJ you can audibly here the horse"roaring" before going into a work out, galloping out after a workout and regular morning exercise. (Tip, if you review the video clips above youmay have to play the video twice to obtain audio). Also DRF (Daily Racing Form)Derby clocker has continually mentioned hearing the noise coming from the horsein his reports for Derby Watch.

It has been noted that the horse hasalways functioned in this manner and performed excellently. He won theLouisiana Derby going away in a strong fashion, except for one little miscuewhere he veered to his left in deep stretch and almost hit the rail. Could thisnot be a sign of the horse not getting enough air?  This breathing condition is generally fixablevia rather simple veterinary procedures. If it previously existed as reportedshould have been addressed before requiring the horse to make physicallydemanding efforts to win the Derby.  Iask you Mr. Assmussen, Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and ThreeChimneys Farm is the glaring spotlight of winning the Kentucky Derby cloudingyour better judgment for the well being of the horse , bettors and horseracing?

Nick Pavletic More than 1 year ago

Posting this opinionated BS on all these posts is only going to help my price!  Thanks a lot for your controversy pointed directly at the Hall of Fame inductee for 2016.  Have you personally seen/heard the horse since he started running last year?  If so, is this behavior new?  So your opinion is to "fix" a horse with surgery for a problem that hasn't affected performance?  Are you a VET trolling for business? I think this horse has been working fantastic during the last 6 weeks at CD and will run the race of his life on Saturday.  The Winchell family and Steve Assmussen DESERVE a KY Derby win for their contributions to the Sport of Kings and I hope Saturday is that day!