Analyzing the horses in the 150th Kentucky Oaks field: Favorites, contenders, pretenders and more notes

Like their counterparts in the Kentucky Derby, fillies that want to run in the Kentucky Oaks have to earn points in a series of qualifying races. Unlike the Derby series, the competition isn’t quite as fierce, though only 14 fillies get to the Oaks starting gate, while the Derby can accommodate 20.

This year’s Oaks field features last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner, two horses that cost in the neighborhood of $1 million as yearlings and trainers who have never won a race at nearly this level.

What you need to know

• A full field of 14 runners is expected to run on Friday afternoon; if any horses scratch before Friday morning, one of the horses on the also-eligible list may draw in.

• The forecast calls for a couple possible thundershowers in the afternoon. Keep an eye on the weather, on the condition of the track and any horses that have run well on an off track.

• Betting for the Oaks opened on Tuesday, so the morning line odds have already shifted slightly, but as they may change often between now and post time, we’re going with the morning line here.

• Post time for the Oaks is 5:51 p.m. ET. It will be broadcast on USA Network and streamed on Peacock.

Thoughts on this year’s Kentucky Oaks, in post position order. Good luck and safe trips to all.

1 – Tapit Jenallie 

Owner: Willis Horton Racing LLC

Trainer: Eddie Milligan Jr.

Jockey: Emmanuel Esquivel

Morning line odds: Scratch

Trainer Eddie Milligan Jr. scratched Tapit Jenallie on Thursday morning. Our Pretty Woman, an alternate entry, is now in the race. See below for the breakdown on Our Pretty Woman.

2 – Gin Gin

Owner: Calumet Farm

Trainer: Brad Cox

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Morning line odds: 30-1

The first of two trained by Brad Cox, voted the Eclipse Award Outstanding Trainer in 2020 and 2021. She won the Busanda Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens and ran third in two other Oaks prep races there; she’s worth a look given the forecast, given that her only two wins have come on wet tracks, though I’d hesitate to put her on top of your tickets.

3 – Where’s My Ring

Owner: Michael McMillan

Trainer: Val Brinkerhoff

Jockey: José Lezcano

Morning line odds: 15-1

Horses trained by California-based trainer Val Brinkerhoff aren’t a common sight in prestigious races, and until a month or so ago, it seemed unlikely that he’d be a part of this weekend. Where’s My Ring lost her first race by a nose, and while still a maiden, was entered in two graded stakes races, including the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile fillies, losing both races badly. After a distant second-place finish in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel, Brinkerhoff shipped her east to the Grade 3 Gazelle Stakes at Aqueduct, where she got her first win and sealed her place in the Oaks starting gate. Great story for the trainer if she wins.

4 – Regulatory Risk

Owner: Klaravich Stables Inc.

Trainer: Chad Brown

Jockey: José Ortiz

Morning line odds: 20-1

Second by multiple lengths to Where’s My Ring in the Gazelle, this $235,000 yearling purchase has one win to her credit, that coming in a muddy maiden race at Aqueduct. She gets the accomplished Ortiz, who won this race in 2019, in the saddle for the first time, and her affinity for an off track will benefit her, but she chased Where’s My Ring last time out, and as both fillies have done their best running on the lead, she’ll need to improve to best her rival on Friday.

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Thorpedo Anna exercises in preparation for the upcoming 150th running of the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs (Photo: Scott Serio / Eclipse Sportswire via AP)

5 – Thorpedo Anna

Owner: Brookdale Racing, Mark Edwards, Judy Hicks and Magdalena Racing

Trainer: Ken McPeek

Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr.

Morning line odds: 5-1

McPeek brought this filly for $40,000 as a yearling and stayed in as a partner – a pretty good decision in hindsight, given that she’s earned nearly $600,000 in four races, three of them wins, one of them a runner-up finish. Breeder Judy Hicks also bought back in after selling her at auction. Thorpedo Anna’s got a versatile running style and though lightly raced, she’s done little wrong so far. She’s got no experience on a wet track, which could be a factor, but in the unlikely event that if the track stays dry and fast, she’s in the mix.

6 – Lemon Muffin

Owner: Aaron Sones, Julie Gilbert and Harrison Sones

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas

Jockey: Keith Asmussen

Morning line odds: 30-1

Now 88 years old, trainer D. Wayne Lukas won this race for the first time in 1982, and he’s won it four times since, most recently in 2022. His jockey here is 63 years younger, and he got his first graded stakes win on this filly in the Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn Park in February. That race was also the filly’s first win from six starts, so she deserves her longshot status here, and she’s already been beaten by some of her rivals here, but if this trainer/jockey combo gets the win, it’ll be the feel-good story of the day.

7 – Fiona’s Magic

Owner: Stonehenge LLC

Trainer: Michael Yates

Jockey: Luis Saez

Morning line odds: 30-1

Another trainer whose name doesn’t often appear in the entries for high-profile rates, Michael Yates has been training horses since 1991 (albeit often with only a few dozen starts a year) and got his first graded stakes winner last year. He followed that up with two more graded stakes wins this year, one of them coming with this horse in the Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Fiona’s Magic was soundly beaten last out in the Gulfstream Park Oaks, finishing 44 lengths behind the winner. She’s a speedy sort who will want to go to the lead, and with faster horses here than she is, that doesn’t look like a winning strategy.

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Tarifa exercises in preparation for the upcoming 150th running of the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. (Scott Serio / Eclipse Sportswire via AP Images)

8 – Tarifa

Owner: Godolphin LLC

Trainer: Brad Cox

Jockey: Flavien Prat

Morning line odds: 7-2

The morning line favorite brings regal connections and bloodlines; bred and owned by Godolphin, the racing operation founded by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai. Tarifa is by 2007 Preakness winner Bernardini and out of a mare by Awesome Again, winner of the 1998 Breeders’ Cup Classic. She’s won four of five races, winning the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks last out. Should speed duels set a swift early pace, her stalking style might suit the raced shape beautifully, and she’s won on both fast and sloppy tracks. Her name has multiple positive meanings in Arabic (gleeful, rare, lively), all of which will gain greater resonance if her connections are donning the blanket of lilies on Friday evening.

9 – Everland

Owner: Foster Family Racing, William Wargel, R.K. Eckrich Racing LLC and Maxis Stable

Trainer: Eric Foster

Jockey: Abel Cedillo

Morning line odds: 30-1

Last December, after three winless races, Everland was entered in a $30,000 claiming race at Turfway Park and picked up by trainer Eric Foster. She’s won twice since then, but she’s never even run in a graded stakes race, much less a Grade 1 with the elite of her generation. Her breeding ranks among the best in the race, but to go from claimer to Grade 1 winner in six months seems like a big ask. The Oaks will also be her first race on dirt, her prior starts coming on turf or synthetic surfaces, so she’s a wild card when it comes to a wet track, but I’d bet against.

10 – Into Champagne

Owner: Six Column Stables LLC, Randall L. Bloch, Jim Gladden, Mike Davis and Michael Steele

Trainer: Ian Wilkes

Jockey: Julien Leparoux

Morning line odds: 30-1

Sired by the No. 1 stallion in the country, Into Mischief, and out of a mare by a champion sprinter, this bay filly has done her best running at shorter distances, winless in races beyond a mile. Granted, those longer races were against stiffer competition, some of which she’ll face on Friday, but the Oaks’ nine furlongs give me pause. Wilkes doesn’t spot horses just for the fun of it, which might warrant a second look, and she does have a win on an off-track, but I’ll look for her sprinting later in the year.

11 – Ways and Means

Owner: Klaravich Stables

Trainer: Chad Brown

Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione

Morning line odds: 5-1

The second here from the Klaravich/Brown team. A clearly talented filly, she’s not won since last August at Saratoga Race Course (that a 12-length romp), running second in two graded stakes races since then. Her race in March, the Gulfstream Park Oaks, came after a six-month layoff, so she’s running here against much more experienced fillies, and she’s another that I’ll look to down the road.

12 – Power Squeeze

Owner: Lea Farms

Trainer: Jorge Delgado

Jockey: Daniel Centeno

Morning line odds: 12-1

She comes to the Oaks on a four-race winning streak, having faced much weaker horses in all of her races except her most recent, in which she won the Gulfstream Park Oaks by a length, beating some of her rivals here. An off-track moves her down, while her breeding moves her up–her sire won the 2012 Belmont Stakes. I’m passing.

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Junior Alvarado celebrates atop Just FYI after winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies horse race in November (Photo: Ashley Landis / AP)

13 – Just F Y I

Owner: George Krikorian

Trainer: Bill Mott

Jockey: Junior Alvarado

Morning line odds: 9-2

Last year’s 2-year-old filly Eclipse Champion ran an undefeated campaign in 2023, two of her three wins coming in Grade 1 races, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. After a winter layoff, she returned in April to run third in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland Racecourse, beaten by the horse that will break just to her outside on Friday. It’s a forgivable loss given the layoff, and no need in my eyes to look at her askance. She relishes distance–her sire is 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify – and she’s won in the slop. Nothing not to like here.

14 – Leslie’s Rose

Owner: Whisper Hill Farm LLC

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Morning line odds: 4-1

She cost $1.15 million as a yearling, and she’s well on her way to earning back that investment, having banked $468,000 in just four races, three of them wins. She finished third in the Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes, behind two horses she faces here, winning the Ashland last out. Her running style is versatile; she can set the pace or stalk, the talent is there.

15 – Our Pretty Woman

Owner: Courtlandt Farms

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Morning line odds: 15-1

Another pricey yearling, this one going for $900,000. She’s lightly raced, having run only three times. Her last race was a second in the Fair Grounds Oaks, her first into stakes company. She does love the slop, and she likes distance, which makes her worth a look if she gets in.

Also eligible (may draw into the race in the event of scratches before 9 a.m. Friday)

AE16 – Candied

Owner: Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Jockey: Luis Saez

Morning line odds: 20-1

She won a Grade 1 last fall off just a maiden win, finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, and returned this year with a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Ashland. She was beaten in her last two starts by two horses running here, and I suspect that she needs more than one bad race to regain her top form from last year.

(Photo of Leslie’s Rose: Scott Serio / Eclipse Sportswire via AP Images)

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