07/19/2006 11:00PM

Wide-open Oaks could reveal division leader

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The $100,000 Queen City Oaks at River Downs is a restricted stakes, but it has the potential to satisfy the needs of both the hardcore bettor looking for a solid wagering opportunity and the racing traditionalist who simply wants to know which horse is best.

The Oaks is the richest race of the year for Ohio-bred 3-year-old fillies. It has attracted a field of 13, and while bettors should be more than satisfied with the seemingly limitless possibilities and combinations, the large field is also indicative of a division that has no standouts. That will likely change after the Oaks, whose demanding 1 1/8-mile distance should separate those with a valid claim on divisional honors.

Tommeyesgold may start as the favorite. A stakes winner on both dirt and turf, she seeks her third straight win of the meet.

Bettors are also likely to give the lightly raced Cryptoquip a look. The only Oaks entrant not stabled in Ohio, Cryptoquip has made all three of her starts in Kentucky for trainer Tom Proctor. She owns the highest Beyer Speed Figure in the field, an 83, which she earned in her six-length maiden win at Churchill.

Money Card, who stamped herself as the early leader of the division last April with an 8 1/2-length triumph in the Royal North Stakes, might be the most underrated among the leading Oaks candidates. Her record since the Royal North has been inconsistent, but her subpar starts have occurred in races that were either open to males or on the turf.

Sybles Angel, Luvaprivate, and Fight Girl are others to watch for in the Oaks. Sybles Angel has yet to finish ahead of Tommeyesgold in five attempts. In their last meeting, Sybles Angel finished third, 2 3/4 lengths behind Tommeyesgold, in the Cincinnatian Stakes on turf.

Luvaprivate, the winner of the Tomboy, is back with her peers after suffering a 22-length defeat against older fillies and mares in the J. William Petro Memorial Handicap at Thistledown.

Fight Girl, by Religious Colony out of Fit to Fight, has a pedigree ideally suited to 1 1/8 miles.