Rachel's Valentina Looking to Add to Dam's Legacy in $1 Million Kentucky Oaks
On Friday at Churchill Downs, the field has been set for the 142nd running of the $1 million Kentucky Oaks. The Grade 1 event, carded at a mile and an eighth, has drawn a full field of fourteen three-year-old fillies with one listed as an also-eligible.
Rachel’s Valentina has been tabbed as the morning line favorite at odds of 7-2 for trainer Todd Pletcher. A bay daughter of Bernardini, she is the second and likely final foal from Horse of the Year and 2009 Kentucky Oaks (G1) champion Rachel Alexandra. She was second behind Songbird in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) last fall and made her first start since then in the Ashland Stakes (G1) where she finished a game second behind longshot Weep No More. John Velazquez will be in the irons and they will break from post position eleven.
Cathryn Sophia trying to avenge first loss
Cathryn Sophia is the second choice at morning line odds of 9-2 for trainer John Servis. A bay daughter of Street Boss, she won the first four starts of her career, including a pair of graded stakes races at Gulfstream Park, before finishing third in the Ashland Stakes (G1) last time out. She has recorded a bullet workout since then and is scheduled to break from post position twelve under jockey Javier Castellano.
Land Over Sea aiming for second straight
Also in the field at morning line odds of 5-1 is Land Over Sea for trainer Doug O’Neill who will also saddle the likely favorite Nyquist in the Kentucky Derby (G1). A chestnut daughter of Bellamy Road, she has been on the board in seven of her eight starts and broke through and earned her first graded stakes victory last time out in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2). Mario Gutierrez will be aboard from post position eleven.
For all the negative buzz about Nyquist's average speed figures and vulnerability, the newly crowned and much-deserving 2016 Kentucky Derby winner might just have the most impeccable credentials of any Derby winner in the illustrious history of the race - and certainly in the modern era.
With the final round of Kentucky Derby preps in the books, it seems improbable, but arguable that the March 12 Tampa Derby was the most useful and review-worthy of the 24 official point-bearing races in 2016.
The handicapping public may find it difficult to get worked into a lather over the five-horse field set to contest the Grade 3 Beaumont Stakes Sunday, April 17 at Keeneland, but there's at least one filly worth keeping a close eye one.