Kentucky Oaks Top 10: Wet Paint Steps Up

Throughout prep season for the GI Kentucky Oaks no filly seemed capable of putting in the type of performance that stamped them as the clear leader of the division. It has been a rather uninspiring three months. As for the Oaks itself, it kept looking like the race would be a crap shoot that just about anybody could win. But, thankfully, that changed last week. The win by Wet Paint (Blame) in the GIII Fantasy S. at Oaklawn was decisive and stamped her as the clear leader of the division. That could change this week, which will offer the last round of Oaks preps. But, at the very least, Wet Paint is a classy and consistent filly and will go into the Oaks riding a wave of momentum. She is a deserving No. 1.

We have a busy few days coming up. The GI Ashland S., the only Grade I race among the Kentucky Oaks preps, tops Friday’s card at Keeneland. On Saturday, the GIII Gazelle S. will be run at Aqueduct and later that same day Santa Anita will serve up the GII Santa Anita Oaks. The Bob Baffert-trained Faiza (Girvin) will be favored at Santa Anita, but she was not nominated to the Kentucky Oaks.


1) WET PAINT (f, Blame–Sky Painter, by Street Cry {Ire})
O/B-Godolphin (Ky). T-Brad Cox. Lifetime Record: MGSW, 6-4-1-0, $689,000. Last Start: Won GIII Fantasy S. at Oaklawn Apr. 1. Kentucky Oaks Points: 170.
When Wet Paint finished second in an allowance race at Turfway Park on Dec. 14, her connections had little reason to believe that she might be the favorite in the Kentucky Oaks. She earned a 69 Beyer figure that day and her only win had come in a maiden race at Horseshoe Indianapolis. But she’s been nothing short of fabulous since.  She went on to sweep Oaklawn’s preps for the Oaks, winning the Martha Washington, the GIII Honeybee S. and the Fantasy. She’s flourishing at the right time and, if anything, is improving. In the Fantasy, she was last early, rushed past the leaders on the far turn and won with what appeared to be plenty left. She’s owned by Godolphin, trained by Brad Cox and her pedigree says she’ll run all day.  What’s not to like?
Next Start: GI Kentucky Oaks, CD, May 5


2) WONDER WHEEL (f, Into Mischief–Wonder Gal, by Tiz Wonderful) O-D. J. Stable. B-Three Chimneys Farm & Clearsky Farm (Ky). T-Mark Casse. Sales history: $275,000 yrl ’21 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: Ch. 2yo Filly & MGISW, 6-4-2-0, $1,570,725. Last Start: 2nd Suncoast S. Feb. 11. Kentucky Oaks Points: 48.
It seems like forever since she last raced, which happened on Feb. 11 when she was second as the 1-2 favorite in the Suncoast S. at Tampa Bay Downs. That has given Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse nearly two months to fine tune last year’s 2-year-old filly champion and have her ready for her best effort. That wasn’t the case in the Suncoast when she had the length of the stretch to get past longshot Dreaming of Snow (Jess’s Dream) but could not do so. So what to expect in the Ashland? That’s the big question surrounding her. If she delivers and shows the form she displayed last year she could still be the favorite in the Oaks. Anything less will mean she will really have her work cut out for her on May 5.
Next Start: GI Ashland S., Kee, April 7

3) BOTANICAL (f, Medaglia d’Oro–Daisy, by Blame)
O-LNJ Foxwoods & Clearsky Farms. B-Clearsky Farms & Godolphin (Ky). T-Brad Cox. Sales history: $220,000 yrl ’21 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: SW, 6-4-1-0, $374,410. Last Start: Won the Bourbonette S. at Turfway Mar. 25. Kentucky Oaks Points: 70.

Botanical | Coady

An interesting horse who has won four straight, including a pair of dominant performances in stakes at Turfway on the synthetic track. The problem is that she’s never run on dirt. Trainer Brad Cox understands that’s an unknown, but is hoping that her upcoming works on the dirt at Churchill Downs will answer those questions. “She worked pretty well on the dirt last summer leading up to her debut,” Cox said.  “I’ll know more in a couple weeks. I think we’ll get a pretty good line on if she’s going to transfer over to the dirt based off her works here at Churchill.” Type of filly who could be first, could be last in the Oaks. If she doesn’t handle the dirt she could have a bright career on the grass. Chris Landeros is her rider.
Next Start: GI Kentucky Oaks, CD, May 5


4) SOUTHLAWN (f, Pioneerof the Nile–Mo d’Amour, by Uncle Mo) O-Robert Masterson. B-WinStar Farm (Ky). T-Norm Casse. Sales history: $290,000 yrl ’21 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GSW, 7-3-0-0, $318,369. Last Start: Won the Fair Grounds Oaks at Fair Grounds Mar. 25. Kentucky Oaks Points: 100.
Has come out of nowhere to be a Kentucky Oaks threat. After finishing off the board last year in a pair of grass races, one at Keeneland, one at Churchill Downs, she turned into the best 3-year-old filly at the Fair Grounds. She won an allowance race there in February by eight lengths and then cruised to a 3 1/4-length win in the GII Fair Grounds Oaks. The wins came after Southlawn underwent a procedure to clear up a breathing issue. Is trained by Norm Casse, who might have to take on his father, Mark, in a battle of the Casse family in the Kentucky Oaks. “I’ve worked for dad for a long time, been around a lot of nice horses, we know what to do,” Casse said after the win in the Fair Grounds Oaks.
Next Start: GI Kentucky Oaks, CD, May 5


5) PRETTY MISCHIEVOUS (f, Into Mischief–Pretty City Dancer, by  Tapit) ‘TDN Rising Star’ O/B-Godolphin (Ky). T-Brendan P. Walsh. Lifetime Record: GSW, 6-4-1-1, $501,310. Last Start: 2nd GII Fair Grounds Oaks at Fair Grounds Mar. 25. Kentucky Oaks Points: 103.
Along with Wet Paint, should give Godolphin a potent pair in the Oaks. After winning the Untapable S. and the Rachel Alexandra S., she looked like she could be as good as anyone in the division. Took a step back when beaten by Southlawn in the Fair Grounds Oaks, but sill ran well enough for her to be considered a threat in the Kentucky Oaks. That said, she may need to improve a bit. Has run three times at Churchill, winning a maiden race and an allowance before finishing third in the GII Golden Rod S.
Next Start: GI Kentucky Oaks, CD, May 5


6) JULIA SHINING (f, Curlin–Dreaming of Julia, by A.P. Indy) ‘TDN Rising Star’ O-Stonestreet Stables LLC. B-Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC (Ky). T-Todd Pletcher. Lifetime Record: GSW, 3-2-0-1, $204,075. Last Start: 3rd Suncoast S. at Tampa Bay Downs Feb. 11. Kentucky Oaks Points: 16.
It’s not that she ran baldy when third in the Suncoast, her only start this year. The Beyer of 81 was a career best and she was only beaten 1 ½ lengths. But she had no excuse and, like Wonder Wheel, couldn’t get past Dreaming of Snow in the stretch. Now it all comes down to the Ashland, where she’s the third choice in the morning line at 3-1. Does trainer Todd Pletcher have her ready for an improved effort, which is what it’s going to take to win the Grade I stakes. There’s a lot of upside with this filly, who is a full-sister to Eclipse Award winner Malathaat (Curlin), but she clearly needs to move forward off of her 3-year-old debut.
Next Start: GI Ashland S., Kee, April 7


7) AND TELL ME NOLIES (f, Arrogate–Be Fair, by Exchange Rate) O-Peter Redekop B.C., Ltd. B-Lara Run, LLC (Ky). T-Peter Miller. Sales history: $70,000 yrl ’21 KEEJAN; $230,000 2yo ’22 OBSAPR. Lifetime Record: GISW, 6-3-1-0, $392,800. Last Start: Second in GIII Santa Ysabel S. at Santa Anita Mar. 5. Kentucky Oaks Points: 30.
After training at the San Luis Rey training center the Peter Miller-trained filly showed up on the work tab last Saturday at Santa Anita. She went five furlongs in 1:01.80. The winner last year of the GI Del Mar Debutante and the GII Chandelier S., she stubbed her toe when eighth in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, finishing seven lengths behind Wonder Wheel. Dismissed at 7-1, she finished second behind Faiza in her 3-year-old debut in the GIII Santa Ysabel S. Is not fast. The 78 she got in the Santa Ysabel is her best career Beyer number. Will try to give sire Arrogate his second straight Oaks winner. He is the sire of 2022 winner Secret Oath.
Next Start: GII Santa Anita Oaks, SA, April 8


8) PUNCHBOWL (f, Uncle Mo-Devilish Lady, by Sweetsouthernsaint) O-Gary and Mary West. B-Gary and Mary West Stables Inc. (Ky). T-Brad H. Cox. Lifetime Record: 2-2-0-0, $150,528. Last Start: Won an allowance optional claimer at Oaklawn Mar. 5. Kentucky Oaks Points: 0.
An Ashland starter, she’s obviously very talented as she was an impressive winner of a March 5 allowance race at Oaklawn Park in her second career start. That came just three weeks after she broke her maiden in her career debut on Feb. 11. Now, trainer Brad Cox is throwing her into the deep end in a Grade I race that features last year’s champion 2-year-old filly. “Punchbowl is a very talented filly but we are throwing a lot at her,” Cox admitted. “We ran her back quick off of her breaking her maiden. Hopefully, she’ll be a Grade I winner after Friday.” The Ashland is a huge test for her. If she were to win it that would make her one of the favorites in the Oaks, maybe even the favorite. But is she ready for such a tough challenge? Is the 2-1 second choice in the Ashland morning line.
Next Start: GI Ashland S., Kee, April 7


9) AFFIRMATIVE LADY (f, Arrogate–Stiffed, by Stephen Got Even) O-AMO Racing USA. B-Alastar Thoroughbred Co., LLC (Ky). T-H. G. Motion. Sales history: $210,000 yrl ’21 KEESEP; $400,000 2yo ’22 OBSAPR. Lifetime Record: GSW, 6-2-1-2, $270,568. Last Start: Won GII Gulfstream Park Oaks Apr. 1. Kentucky Oaks Points: 110.

Affirmative Lady | Ryan Thompson

Also by Arrogate, she’s the lone horses to jump into the Top 10 this week, which she did off of her win in the GII Gulfstream Park Oaks. It was the first graded stakes win in the U.S. for AMO Racing, which has won a number of group races in Europe. She didn’t break her maiden until her start prior to the Oaks, but did run second last year in the GII Demoiselle S., where she finished just a neck behind Julia Shining. It looks like she’s headed in the right direction, but she didn’t face all that much in the way of competition in the Gulfstream race.
Next Start: GI Kentucky Oaks, CD, May 5


10) SHIDABHUTI (f, Practical Joke–A. P. Candy, by Candy Ride {Arg}) O-Peter Brant. B-Gabriel Duignan & Gerry Dilger (Ky).
T-Chad Brown. Sales history: $77,000 wnlg ’20 KEENOV; $310,000 yrl ’21 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: SW, 3-3-0-0, $189,600. Last Start: Won Busher S. at Aqueduct Mar. 4. Kentucky Oaks Points: 50.
She goes next in Saturday’s Gazelle S. at Aqueduct, where the main competition is expected to include her stablemate Occult (Into Mischief). The good news is that she is undefeated in three career starts. The bad news is that she has raced at Monmouth and then made two starts during the winter run at Aqueduct. Even if she wins Saturday, the story won’t change much. Everyone will be asking, who did she beat? Chad Brown does have a history of running some of his better horses in New York during the winter, which he did with his two GI Preakness winners, Early Voting (Gun Runner) and Cloud Computing (Maclean’s Music).
Next Start: GIII Gazelle S.,  Aqu, April

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