JC / Railbird

Kentucky Oaks

Oaks Reprise

Jon White surveys the likely Odgen Phipps field:

The 2013 Kentucky Oaks field was considered one of the best ever. The five fillies listed above as candidates for the Phipps all ran in last year’s Kentucky Oaks. Princess of Sylmar won at 38-1. Beholder finished second at 9-1 after acting up and unseating Garrett Gomez prior to the start. Dreaming of Julia finished fourth as the 3-2 favorite after she “got annihilated at the start” and “got stopped later in the race,” according to Todd Pletcher, the filly’s trainer. Midnight Lucky finished fifth at 7-2, which has been her only loss in four career starts to date. Close Hatches finished seventh at 7-1.

Amazing. Unlimited Budget, third in the 2013 Kentucky Oaks, hasn’t been mentioned among the Phipps possibles, but she is still running, finishing second in the G3 Rampart Stakes at Gulfstream last month.

Not So Blind

I knew I was in trouble with It’s Tea Time when her name kept surfacing in blog posts and tweets Saturday morning as a top Oaks pick. It was shades of Sweetnorthernsaint in the 2006 Kentucky Derby, watching the hype build. “It’s official: the first ‘blogger steam’ horse in history is It’s Tea Time,” remarked @HRFattheTrack. At 7-1, well down from her morning line odds of 15-1, the filly went into the gate as the third favorite.

Blind Luck, of course, was the favorite, and there was no doubt she was a deserving 6-5 at post time as she did her thing in the stretch, ranging up on the outside and nailing the win at wire by a nose over 13-1 Evening Jewel:

Final time for the race was 1:50.70 (chart), for which Blind Luck was given a Beyer speed figure of 94. The official teletimer photo:

Official teletimer photo from Churchill Downs of the 2010 Kentucky Oaks finish

It’s Tea Time? She finished ninth.

Earlier on the Churchill card, disappointment for HOTY fans: Rachel Alexandra lost her second start of the year, finishing a head behind 9-1 Unrivaled Belle in the LaTroienne Stakes, prompting Bill Finley — who must have had this piece already written, so quickly did it go up on the ESPN site — to opine,

The prudent course will probably soon become obvious to Asmussen and Jackson, and Rachel Alexandra will be retired. That sure seems like the right thing to do.

But Jess Jackson, in a post-race visit to the press box, said the 4-year-old filly appeared to come out of the race well and would remain in training:

Jess Jackson quotes

(Paulick Report video of the surprise press conference: Part 1, Part 2.)

While Jackson’s statements may seem a little rushed, I can’t fault him for wanting to check any speculation about retirement; Rachel Alexandra deserves another start. To paraphrase Jay Hovdey, she’s not running badly, she’s just not winning, and there are plenty of races remaining in the year.

11:00 AM Addendum: A final time of 1:42.97 for the LaTroienne, a Beyer speed figure of 103 for both Unrivaled Belle and Rachel Alexandra.

At 15-1, It’s Tea Time

Blind Luck is the dominant favorite in the Kentucky Oaks, which drew a full field of 14, but I’m hoping for a ‘Tea Time’ upset. So is trainer Rusty Arnold:

In recent weeks, however, Arnold has been in rare form, telling anyone who bothers to ask that a filly named It’s Tea Time is approaching the 136th Kentucky Oaks in such fantastic shape that he wouldn’t be surprised if she were to upset the likes of Blind Luck and the other top-class fillies who will clash Friday at Churchill Downs in the Grade 1, $500,000 classic.

I like the confidence of the usually reticent Arnold. But even more, I like the improving filly’s runner-up finish last month in the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland, in which she narrowly missed beating Evening Jewel:

Favorites for 2009-05-08

Each day, I browse Flickr for interesting racing images. Here are photos recently saved as favorites …

Flickr favorites through 5/8/09

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