LOUISVILLE — Santa Anita Oaks winner Bellafina was installed as the 2-1 morning-line favorite and will break from post four under jockey Flavien Prat following Monday's draw at Churchill Downs for the $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks.
A full field of 14 3-year-old fillies, with two also-eligibles, was entered for Friday's 1-1/8 mile race. Owned by Kaleem Shah, the daughter of Quality Road has already amassed three grade-one wins in her young career and enters Friday’s race on a three-race win streak. She is trained by Simon Callaghan.
Six Column Stables and Randall Bloch’s Champagne Anyone, at a morning-line of 6-1, will break from post 10 for trainer Ian Wilkes and will be ridden by Wilkes’ son-in-law, Chris Landeros.
“This gives us a lot more options on the outside,” said Wilkes. “We can play the break and just see what happens early in the race.”
Champagne Anyone is a daughter of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, who Wilkes is quite familiar with, having worked at the time as an assistant trainer under Street Sense trainer Carl Nafzger.
“She’s got a head like him,” said Wilkes of Champagne Anyone’s similarity to her sire. “She’s getting better, like him. He got better — he was probably a little more precocious as a 2-year-old, but she’s getting better and better and that’s a lot like him.”
Champagne Anyone beat out the favored Dunbar Road in the Gulfstream Park Oaks — a grade II race — in her last time out. The win solidified the Kentucky Oaks for Champagne Anyone’s next start and left Dunbar Road waiting on the also-eligible list.
Named co-second choice at odds of 6-1 is Kenny McPeek’s Central Bank Ashland (gr. I) runner-up, Restless Rider. She’ll leave from the far outside post 14 under jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr. for owners Fern Circle Stables and Three Chimneys Farm.
Trainer Wayne Catalano’s filly Liora was runner-up in both the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) and Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. II), both at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans, but she has already experienced victory at Churchill Downs, breaking her maiden and winning the Golden Rod (gr. II) as a 2-year-old. She’ll break from post nine in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks with jockey Channing Hill aboard.
“I love that post position,” said Catalano. “For her, we’ve got speed inside of us, so we can kind of be where we want to be and not be forced to use the horse more than we want to early. She’s got tactical speed, she can come off it a little bit, and she’ll be wherever we want her to be. It should set up just like we want it.”
Fairgrounds Oaks winner Street Band, will break from post 12 for three-time Kentucky Oaks winning trainer Larry Jones and will give rider Sophie Doyle her first mount in the Kentucky Oaks.
“I’m quite happy where we’re set in the gate,” said Doyle. “I think it helps with Serengeti Empress on my outside, one horse I’m used to, and Jaywalk in the middle and Motion Emotion that helps to set the race up and put us in a good spot that I’ll be able to watch from the outside of what’s going on and be able to position Street Band in a nice place.”
The full field for the Kentucky Oaks from the rail out with odds is Out for a Spin (15-1), Chocolate Kisses (20-1), Lady Apple (20-1), Bellafina (2-1), Flor de La Mar (20-1), Positive Spirit (30-1), Jaywalk (8-1), Motion Emotion (15-1), Liora (20-1), Champagne Anyone (6-1), Jeltrin (15-1), Street Band (15-1), Serengeti Empress (8-1), Restless Rider (6-1), and the also-eligibles, Dunbar Road (5-1) and Point of Honor (30-1).