LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The 142nd Run for the Lilies, also known as the $1 million Grade 1 Longines Kentucky Oaks, is the feature race on Friday’s card under the Twin Spires at Churchill Downs. A crowd of over 110,000 is expected for one of the biggest races of the year for 3-year-old fillies. The race will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network during a five and one-half hour telecast starting at 12:30 p.m. Post time for the Oaks is 5:49 p.m.
A full field of 14 fillies will head to the gate looking to win the most prestigious race of the 3-year-old filly division. With the defection of Songbird two weeks ago related to missing training due to illness, the race has opened up as a very competitive race.
Let’s take a look at the field (post position, trainer, jockey, ML odds in parenthesis):
Kentucky Oaks – Race 11 – 1 1/8 miles -- Churchill Downs – 5:49 p.m. EDT
1 – Terra Promessa (Asmussen, Santana, Jr., 10-1). This daughter of Curlin has won four straight including sweeping the two Oaklawn stakes. Asmussen has had good fortune in the Oaks winning with Untapable (2014) and Summerly (2005), and finishing second last year with Shook Up. Others seem more logical in here, but she is a nice filly and could surprise.
2 – Weep No More (Arnold, Lanerie, 9-2). Upset winner of the Grade 1 Ashland, coming out of nowhere to upset Rachel’s Valentina and Cathryn Sophia. Has a trip over the Churchill strip in her debut where she flopped in the slop. Will be a tough out with the added distance.
3 – Lewis Bay (Brown, Ortiz, Jr., 8-1). Daughter of Bernardini won the Gazelle at the Big A on a muddy track after being trounced by Cathryn Sophia at Gulfstream. Comes in third off the layoff, and has been the talk of the clocking contingent here since she arrived. She’s the only filly in the field to win twice at the Oaks distance and both were graded stakes.
4 – Go Maggie Go (Romans, Saez, 12-1). Lightly raced daughter of Ghostzapper will be running in only her third career race. She followed up a maiden sprint win at Gulfstream with a win in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks. Tough selection based on lack of experience alone.
5 – Dream Dance (Howard, Hernandez, Jr., 30-1). Afleet Alex filly is the longest shot on the board and has only two wins in nine career races. Has four trips over the CD track, posting two second place finishes. A second-place finish in the Fair Grounds Oaks punched her ticket to the First Friday in May, and she’ll likely have a nice view of the race.
6 – Mokat (Baltas, Prat, 20-1). Uncle Mo filly qualified via a runner-up finish to Songbird in the Santa Anita Oaks. Has her word cut out for her. She finds herself in deep waters, with only one career victory in seven attempts, but has shown promise in the morning.
7 – Mo d’Amour (Pletcher, Rosario, 30-1). Shares long shot status with Dream Dance and represents another Uncle Mo filly in the race. She sports the same connections as long shot 2013 winner Princess of Sylmar. She has struggled in both efforts against graded competition. Would be a major upset.
8 – Royal Obsession (Asmussen, Geroux, 20-1). This Stonestreet filly finished behind Lewis Bay in the slop at the Big A in the Gazelle after being bumped at the start. Could improve with a clean trip and has the running style it takes to win the Oaks. My long shot play.
9 – Paola Queen (Delgado, Jaramillo, 30-1). Another long shot filly that has the same connections of Majesto in the Derby. After breaking her maiden in her fourth try, she finished second behind Go Maggie Go in the GP Oaks and looks to be improving. Is up against it against these foes however.
10 – Venus Valentine (Amoss, Bridgmohan, 30-1). Adds blinkers after flopping in the FG Oaks after her Rachel Alexandra victory in New Orleans. Tough to back on paper, but could improve with the equipment change, as Amoss is 26 percent when adding blinks.
11 – Rachel’s Valentina (Pletcher, Velazquez, 7-2). Talented filly is the morning line favorite looking to avenge her Ashland loss to Weep No More. Her dam won the 2009 edition in a romp. Has worked well at Churchill and is clearly the one to beat and will take big money at the window based on her lineage.
12 – Cathryn Sophia (Servis, Castellano, 9-2). Co-second choice looked like the real deal in the early preps, but she’s a question mark at the longer distances.
13 – Land Over Sea (O’Neill, Gutierrez, 5-1). Can the connections pull off the Oaks-Derby double? Without Songbird in the race, this one takes a big step forward and if she can overcome the outside post, she’ll be in the mix in the final furlong. If not for Songbird, her resume would look a whole lot better. My pick.
14 – Taxable (Asmussen, Smith, 20-1). Tapit filly runs in the Winchell colors, owners of the 2014 winner. Speed figures look a tad below what it’s going to take.
Post Time Outlook: 1 – Land Over Sea; 2 – Rachel’s Valentina; 3 – Weep No More; 4 – Lewis Bay
Long Shot: Royal Obsession
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.