We are only a day away from the Kentucky Derby, which means it’s Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs. The $1,250,000 Kentucky Oaks (Gr. 1) is scheduled for Friday afternoon in Louisville. The 2020 edition of the Kentucky Oaks was a thriller with Shedaresthedevil with an upset over Swiss Skydiver and Gamine.
Shedaresthedevil pulled off the upset for the biggest win of her career. She is back for the La Troienne Stakes (Gr. 1) on Friday. The weather is forecasted to be beautiful on Friday and Saturday, so it couldn’t have worked out better for Churchill Downs. Along with Churchill Downs, there’s a lot of racing elsewhere as well. A lot of the big players are in the mix this weekend.
Our first stop will be in Louisville on Oaks Day at Churchill Downs. There is the Kentucky Oaks and 13 other events at Churchill Downs on Friday. The card consists of six stakes races, with the Kentucky Oaks the feature event, and the $500,000 La Troienne Stakes (Gr. 1) is the next biggest race. A total of $3,829,000 in prize money is available on Friday afternoon. Head below for our free Churchill Downs selections and Kentucky Oaks pick for April 30, 2021.
Race 6 – Alysheba Stakes
Post Time: 1:26 p.m. EST
Distance:1 1/16 Miles
The $400,000 Alysheba Stakes (Gr. 2) is one of the biggest races on Oaks Day at Churchill Downs. Six horses are slated to run 1 1/16 miles on the dirt. Watch for Sonneman and Maxfield in this event. Sonneman has a chance from the No. 2 post position at 5/1.
He is coming off three graded events, going 4th, 2nd, 5th. In his best performance out of that stretch, Sonneman placed 2nd behind Maxfield by 3 ¼ lengths in the $200,000 Mineshaft Stakes (Gr. 3). That was a good effort from Sonneman against a tough runner in Maxfield.
Sonneman’s most recent win was on November 4 in a $89,000 event covering 1 1/16 miles. Sonneman cleared Mailman Money by 5 ¾ lengths in the solid performance. He’s still looking for a stakes win, but with a solid push and weak effort from Maxfield, a win should be possible.
Maxfield is a five-time winner in six attempts, with tremendous success which includes three graded wins. After a win in the Mineshaft Stakes, Maxfield moved up to the $400,000 Santa Anita Handicap (Gr. 1) for the toughest race of his career on March 6. He finished 2 lengths behind the winner to show 3rd. Acceptable performance, but not enough. Maxfield should have enough versus this field in the Alysheba.
Race 8 – La Troienne Stakes
Post Time: 3:03 p.m. EST
Distance:1 1/16 Miles
The La Troienne Stakes (Gr. 1) is the biggest event not named the Kentucky Oaks on Friday. This looks like an event between Brad Cox and Chad Brown’s runners. Dunbar Road is 6 for 11 in her career, finishing 1st, 1st, 3rd, 3rd in her previous four attempts, his last three all graded races. He beat Saracosa by 3 lengths in the $400,000 Delaware Handicap (Gr. 2) on July 11 for his most recent winning run.
It was the three graded win of his career, though he regressed to 3rd in the $150,000 Beldame Stakes (Gr. 2) and $2,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. It’s hard to fault Dunbar Road for that performance in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff as a longshot. Since that $2,000,000 event, Dunbar Road has been on a layoff.
Shedaresthedevil has gone 1st, 1st, 1st, 3rd, 1st in her previous five attempts. Since winning the Kentucky Oaks last year, Shedaresthedevil has gone 3rd and 1st, showing 3rd in the $400,000 Juddemonte Spinster (Gr. 1) on October 4.
Most recently, Shedaresthedevil beat Letruska by a head in the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (Gr. 2) for a nice bounce back performance. When urged in workouts she has looked good, with a time of 47.60 seconds at 4 furlongs and 59.80 seconds at 5 furlongs. Look for her to edge out Dunbar Road in the stretch for the win in her return to Churchill Downs a year after winning the Kentucky Oaks.
Race 11 – Kentucky Oaks
Post Time: 5:51 p.m. EST
Distance:1 ⅛ Miles
The Kentucky Oaks (Gr. 1) is the feature race of the day at Churchill Downs. This is a race for the girls, with 14 runners participating in the 2021 edition of the Kentucky Oaks. Search Results, Malathaat, and Travel Column all have legitimate arguments as the best horse in the Kentucky Oaks. I have Malathaat and Travel Column high on my list. Malathaat is on a heater with four straight wins in four career attempts.
She is coming off two graded wins in the $150,000 Demoiselle Stakes (Gr. 2) by ¾ lengths on March December 5. It was probably closer than many expected, but still showed great kick in the stretch and held late. Malathaat followed up in impressive form to win the $400,000 Ashland Stakes (Gr. 1) on April 3. She edged out Pass the Champagne by a head.
If Travel Column shows up to play on Friday, then Malathaat might need a bit more, though. The $850,000 Travel Column is a three-time winner in five outings, which includes two Grade 2 victories. Travel Column is coming off a mighty fine performance in the $400,000 Fair Ground Oaks (Gr. 2) on March 30.
She stalked, took over by a length going into the stretch, and cleared by 2 ¾ lengths at the wire. It was a textbook win for Travel Column. Florent Geroux piloted a nice race in that one. In a tune-up for the Oaks, Travel Column was sharp on April 23 with a time of 1:00.40 at 5 furlongs. Travel Column has gone 1st, 2nd, 1st in her last three and is in good form. This looks like good value on Travel Column.