06/04/2014 2:58PM

O'Brien has three starters in Epsom Oaks


Trainer Aidan O’Brien can win the Epsom Oaks for the fifth time Friday at Epsom Downs, but his leading chance, Marvellous, has no decided edge on several others in the 17-horse field.

Marvellous won the Irish 1000 Guineas in her most recent start, but that was a one-mile race on soft ground, and on Friday, she will attempt to tackle 1 1/2 miles on the tricky left-handed Epsom course, which is forecast to be good for Friday’s card, and over which none of the Oaks runners has yet raced.

Marvellous is one of three O’Brien-trained 3-year-old fillies in the race, along with Palace and Dazzling, the latter a likely pacesetter. Ryan Moore rode Marvellous to her Irish 1000 Guineas win, but Joseph O’Brien takes the mount Friday, with Moore on the O’Brien-trained Palace. Palace finished fifth behind Marvellous last time but has caught nothing but soft and heavy courses in her four races and might have unexposed talent.

Tahgrooda probably has as good a chance as Marvellous. Trained by John Gosden, Tahgrooda has started her career with two wins, the most recent at Newmarket over 10 furlongs in the listed Pretty Polly Stakes, the same race Talent used as a prep for her 2013 Oaks victory. Gosden has said that Tahgrooda prefers going that is firmer than soft, which she should find Friday.

Ihtimal rates a decent chance as well for Godolphin and trainer Saeed bin Suroor. Ihtimal’s most important win came over the all-weather Meydan track in the UAE Oaks, but she was third in the Group 1 Fillies Mile last fall and third this spring in the one-mile English 1000 Guineas, both races probably shorter than her ideal trip.

Tarfasha, an Irish filly trained by Dermot Weld, won the 10-furlong Blue Wind Stakes last out, the race that 2012 Oaks winner Was used as a springboard to victory at Epsom. Tarfasha, however, might prefer ground softer than she’ll find Friday.