It’s Kentucky Oaks Day in Louisville at Churchill Downs. The wait is finally over to see Gamine vs. Swiss Skydiver go head-to-head for all of the bragging rights as top filly in the world. It will also come with top prize out of a $1.25 million purse. Gamine and Swiss Skydiver might be the most notable names in this dance, but don’t discard Speech and Donna Veloce.
It won’t be easy for Speech or Donna Veloce, though they have a chance. The Kentucky Oaks could very well be the Race of the Year in a crazy 2020. It’s one of those races that you don’t really need to bet on to get something out of, at least if you’re a horse racing fan.
Along with the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, the undercard is shaping up to provide some exciting racing as well. In total on Friday, there are 13 races with $3,700,000 available. Derby Day is almost here, but don’t forget about Oaks Day at Churchill Downs in Louisville today. Head below for our free Churchill Downs picks and Kentucky Oaks pick for September 4, 2020.
Race 9 – Edgewood Stakes
Post Time: 3:40 p.m. EST
Distance: 1 Mile
The $300,000 Edgewood Stakes (Gr. 2) is our first step on Oaks Day at Churchill Downs on Friday. This Grade 2 race will feature a mile of racing on the turf for a $300,000 purse. A familiar friend, Sharing, is running out of the No. 3 post position in the Edgewood Stakes. The filly was one part of our Pick 5 card back in May, which came through for a monumental payday. Sharing is back at Churchill Downs on Friday looking for more.
Hendy Woods should be able to give Sharing a competitive battle in this one. She has been a winner in her career, with 3 wins in 4 races on January 18, March 15, and August 12 at Fair Grounds and Indiana Grand.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that the only graded event that Hendy Woods appeared in didn’t go well. She finished 7th in the $100,000 Regret Stakes (Gr. 3) on June 27 for a disappointing effort.
Hendy Woods responded on August 12 to win by a neck in the Indiana Stakes (Listed). It wasn’t a graded win for Hendy Woods, but still a nice win in a $150,000 stakes event. That effort provides me with some faith in Hendy Woods here.
She will likely run a competitive race and push Sharing in the stretch. Sharing is 4 for 6 in her career and was on a four-race win streak before faltering in the Coronation Stakes (Gr. 1) at Ascot.
Sharing is back on US soil for the Edgewood Stakes on Friday. Her last loss in North America was her debut on July 21, 2019. After that Sharing went on a four-race winning streak, including a win for us in the $100,000 Tepin Stakes on May 23.
Santa Anita Park on November 1, 2019 was the biggest win of his career in the $1,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (Gr. 1). She won by 1 ¼ lengths over Daahyeh in the best form of her career. That effort would be more than enough on Friday. She should prove to be too tough to beat on Friday.
Race 11 – La Troienne Stakes
Post Time: 4:50 p.m. EST
Distance:1 1/16 Miles
The biggest race next to the Kentucky Oaks is the La Troienne Stakes (Gr. 1), which is set for Race 11 at Churchill Downs. This 1 1/16 mile romp is for a $500,000 purse on the dirt. Vexatious and Monomoy Girl should have a good go at the top prize in Race 11. Vexatious is likely going to be the only horse that will be able to keep up with Monomoy Girl.
She is coming off a win in the $500,000 Personal Ensign Stakes (Gr. 1) on August 1 over Midnight Bisou by a neck in a big upset. Midnight Bisou was the overwhelming favorite and was unable to get there.
Leading into that race, Vexatious finished 5th, 5th, 3rd, 2nd in her previous four races. Overall, she is 4 for 24 in her career, so yes, it was a surprise for her to beat Midnight Bisou who was a powerhouse prior to that loss.
I wasn’t impressed by a recent 52.44 second workout by Vexatious, but all she needs is a good break like she got in the Personal Ensign Stakes (Gr. 1) to pull off another upset. Monomoy Girl is fresh off a hat-trick with marquee wins in the $2,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (Gr. 1) on November 3, 2018 and $150,000 Ruffian Stakes (Gr. 2) by 2 lengths on July 11.
It was an easy win as a heavy favorite. Overall, Monomoy Girl is 11 for 13 in her career, which includes five Grade 1 wins and the 2018 Kentucky Oaks. For $100,000 in 2016, Monomoy Girl has been a nice little investment for her supporters. She is one of the finest mares in the world and should have the upper hand in the La Troienne Stakes on Friday.
Race 12 – Kentucky Oaks
Post Time: 5:45 p.m. EST
Distance:1 ⅛ Miles
Race 12 brings us to the Kentucky Oaks, the main event of the day and one of the most highly anticipated races of the year. Two powerhouses, Gamine and Swiss Skydiver, will get after it on this 1 ⅛ mile circuit on the dirt. Bob Baffert feels confident about Gamine, but Swiss Skydiver, along with Speech should be able to provide a battle in the stretch. Swiss Skydiver is a magnificent filly that has won 4 of her previous 5 races.
She is coming off a win in the Alabama Stakes (Gr. 1) on August 15 by 3 ½ lengths over Bonny South. I didn’t understand the price in that one. Getting plus money on Swiss Skydiver was robbery and one of the easiest bets I’ve won at that price. Spice Is Nice was incredibly overhyped in that race. Overall, Swiss Skydiver is 5 for 9 in her career. Other notable wins include the Santa Oaks (Gr. 2), Gulfstream Park Oaks (Gr. 2), and Rachel Alexndra Stakes (Gr. 2).
Swiss Skydiver was an incredible purchase for $35,000 in 2018. Some people just find lighting in a bottle and strike hot at a good price. Meanwhile, Gamine was bought for $1,800,000 in 2019 after originally being bought at auction for $220,000 in 2018. That was a bad sell for her previous owners.
Gamine has proven to be well worth the price in her first two races. She broke an Acorn Stakes (Gr. 1) record in a blowout over a tough field on June 20 at Belmont Park. Gamine torched the field for a 18 ¾ length win to put Swiss Skydiver on notice. She was jogging late in that race and still broke the Acorn record with a time of 132.2. Incredible.
She followed up for a 7 length win over Venetian Harbor in the Longines Test Stakes (Gr. 1) on August 8. Venetian Harbor is a really strong horse, but Gamine made it look like easy work. The concern for most handicappers on Gamine is the longer distance. She hasn’t been asked to go this far, but Game got stronger deeper in the Acorn Stakes and Test Stakes. There were no signs of her weakening.
Also keep an eye on Speech. I’m not counting her out of this race. She hasn’t ran a bad race in her career thus far. Speech has finished in the top-2 in six straight races following 3rd in her debut on November 15, 2019. She is coming off a 3 length win over Venetian Harbor in the $400,000 Ashland Stakes (Gr. 1) on July 11. Prior to that, she placed 2nd behind Swiss Skydiver in the Santa Anita Oaks. Speech is coming off a promising 47.60 second workout on August 28.
This is going to be a heck of a race. Whatever happens is likely going to be entertaining. There are some handicappers shying away from Gamine based on this being a mile and ⅛. Those are some concerns that I’m keeping in mind. However, in the Acorn and Test Stakes, she more than looked ready to run further if she was asked to. I’m confident that she can handle it and prove that Baffert has the best filly in the world in his barn.