By Ed McNamara
Todd Pletcher and Brad Cox each has trained multiple winners of the Kentucky Oaks, and they have two of the top three morning-line favorites for Friday’s 147th running of the 3-year-old fillies’ classic. Chad Brown, who never has won the Oaks, has the other one.
Pletcher’s undefeated Malathaat drew post 10 in a field of 14 Monday and was installed as the 5-2 favorite for the Grade 1, 1 1/8-mile race at Churchill Downs. Pletcher is looking for his fourth Oaks victory, having won it with Ashado (2004), Rags to Riches (2007) and Princess of Sylmar (2013). John Velazquez, Pletcher’s longtime collaborator, rode Ashado and will be on Malathaat, who is 4-for-4 after winning the Grade 1 Ashland on April 3 at Keeneland.
“She’s a terrific filly, and she keeps getting better and better,” Pletcher said. “She really finished up strongly in the Ashland, and I think going farther will be good for her.”
Cox won two of the last three Oaks — Monomoy Girl in 2018 and Shedaresthedevil last year, when the race was postponed to Labor Day weekend because of the COVID-19 pandemic. His filly Travel Column, with regular rider Florent Geroux, is the 3-1 co-second choice along with Brown’s Search Results. Geroux also was on Monomoy Girl and Shedaresthedevil.
Travel Column (post 6) is 2-for-2 at Churchill Downs, Cox’s base.
“Most of our horses have run at Churchill,” Cox said, “and a little bit of a home advantage is never a bad thing. It never hurts.”
Search Results (post 12) improved to 3-for-3 with her best race ever, a 2 3/4-length domination of the Grade 3 Gazelle at Aqueduct.
“She got a nice, solid mile-and-an-eighth race into her in the Gazelle,” Brown said. “She ran quite fast at Aqueduct, faster than the boys in the Wood (1:54.14 to 1:54.49), so that’s a pretty good indicator of how fit she is and what she potentially got out of that race.”
Besides Malathaat, Travel Column and Search Results, only Clairiere (5-1, post 3) is less than 10-1 on oddsmaker Mike Battaglia’s line. The Oaks field, from the rail out:
Pauline’s Pearl, 20-1; Maracuja, 20-1; Clairiere, 5-1; Crazy Beautiful, 15-1; Pass the Champagne, 15-1; Travel Column, 3-1; Ava’s Grace, 50-1; Moraz, 30-1; Coach, 50-1; Malathaat, 5-2; Will’s Secret, 30-1; Search Results, 3-1; Competitive Speed, 50-1; Millefeuille, 20-1. There are no also-eligibles.
Post time is approximately 5:51 p.m. ET Friday. Weather.com’s long-range forecast is for a high temperature of 69, with a 20% chance of rain.
|1||Pauline’s Pearl||20-1||Steve Asmussen||Ricardo Santana Jr.||Stonestreet Stables LLC|
|2||Maracuja||20-1||Rob Atras||Kendrick Carmouche||Beach Haven Thoroughbreds|
|3||Clairiere||5-1||Steve Asmussen||Tyler Gaffalione||Stonestreet Stables LLC|
|4||Crazy Beautiful||15-1||Kenneth McPeek||Jose Ortiz||Phoenix Thoroughbred III|
|5||Pass the Champagne||15-1||George Weaver||Javier Castellano||R.A. Hill Stable, Black Type Thoroughbreds, Rock Ridge Racing LLc, BlackRidge Stabls LLc and Brown, James|
|6||Travel Column||3-1||Brad Cox||Florent Geroux||OXO Equine LLC|
|7||Ava’s Grace||50-1||Robertino Diodoro||David Cohen||Cypress Creek Equine|
|8||Moraz||30-1||Michael McCarthy||Flavien Prat||Don Alberto Stable|
|9||Coach||50-1||Brad Cox||Luis Saez||Kueber Racing, LLC|
|10||Malathaat||5-2||Todd Pletcher||John Velazquez||Shadwell Stable|
|11||Will’s Secret||30-1||Dallas Stewart||John Court||Willis Horton Racing LLC|
|12||Search Results||3-1||Chad Brown||Irad Ortiz||Klaravich Sables, Inc.|
|13||Competitive Speed||50-1||Gonzalez Javier||Chris Landeros||John C. Minchello|
|14||Millefeuille||20-1||William Mott||Joel Rosario||Juddmonte Farms, Inc.|