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Beholder on Top of Her Game

Posted by Pete Mitchell on 5/2/2013 4:59:19 PM

Who: Thoroughbreds – Midnight Lucky, Beholder, Unlimited Budget, Dreaming of Julia, Rose to Gold, Close Hatches
What: Horse Racing Betting Tips – The Kentucky Oaks
Where: Churchill Downs
When: Friday, May 3rd

Friday’s 139th Running of The Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs shapes up as one of the top 3YO Filly races in recent memory. The field of 10 (due to the scratch of Flashy Gray) has bankrolled nearly $5 million in earnings, boasts three undefeated starters, and has an aggregate win rate of 60% and an in-the-money rate of 82%! Picking a winner out of this talented group will be no easy task. Let’s take a closer look at the major players below.

#2-Midnight Lucky (9-2): What this unbeaten (2-for-2) Bob Baffert trainee lacks in seasoning she makes up for in sheer talent. After posting a Beyer Speed Figure of 100 in winning her career debut sprinting at Santa Anita, she was sent two turns in the Sunland Park Oaks. Midnight Lucky won handily at odds of 3/10, shattering the track record for 1 1/16th miles in the process. She has been working swiftly (vs. males) at Churchill Downs, and gets her acid test in the Oaks.

#3-Beholder (7-2): The 2YO Filly Champ went through a growth spurt early in her sophomore campaign, and after a lackluster outing in the 6 ½-furlong Santa Ynez in January, rattled off a pair of front-running scores going two turns at Santa Anita to reestablish herself as a force in the 3YO Filly Division. The masterful Dick Mandella hasn’t notched a win yet in the Oaks or the Derby…this filly could get him over the Oaks hump. They’ll have to catch her to cash.

#4-Unlimited Budget (7-2): This undefeated (4-for-4) filly keeps improving on the Beyer scale with each victory. Many thought she was trainer Todd Pletcher’s best 2YO filly…which is saying something when you consider he’s got morning line favorite Dreaming of Julia as well. In a race loaded with quality speed, Unlimited Budget’s ability to rate and finish should serve her well. DRF handicappers are all over this horse, so her price may drop into “underlay” territory.

#8-Dreaming of Julia (3-1): The main question with the morning line chalk is what to make of the towering (114) Beyer figure she earned last out when dominating the Gulfstream Oaks. Prior to that explosion, she topped out at 93. I’m expecting a significant regression, and will try to beat her with one of the other top contenders.

#9-Rose to Gold (15-1): Trainer Salvatore Santoro isn’t exactly a household name, which is why you’re likely to get a nice price with this sharp filly. She’s 2-for-2 in the slop, so give her a close look in the exotics if the rains come. Regular rider Calvin Borel certainly knows his way around the Churchill strip, and his mount has worked swiftly here in preparation for her local bow. Interesting…

#11-Close Hatches (6-1): Hall-of-Fame trainer Bill Mott has been a bit more vocal than usual about this lightly-raced, undefeated (3-for-3) filly’s upside. She has won on the lead and from off the pace, so I’m not expecting her to duel from her outside post. Her Beyers are a bit on the light side, and her post doesn’t help matters, so 6-1 seems rather unappealing.

Sometimes when you see race like this with multiple speed types, the natural tendency is to look for a stalker or closer, like Unlimited Budget or even Dreaming of Julia. I’m taking a counter-intuitive stance on this race, however, and siding with the speedy Beholder. Since most of these trainers and jockeys can read the Racing Form, and won’t want to get into a speed duel, you may find a horse like Beholder on an uncontested lead. If that happens…look out! She’s loaded with class, and may never look back! I’ll bet on Beholder to win and place at odds of 3-1 or better.   

Those are my horse racing betting tips for Friday’s Kentucky Oaks. Best of luck and happy gambling!

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