Santa Anita Oaks & Ashland Odds, Field and Betting Picks

The Road to the Kentucky Oaks reaches its final destination this weekend, with four preps bringing the point-gathering to a close.

The highlight of the weekend is the G1 Ashland at Keeneland and a clash between G2 winner Nest and up-and-coming starlet Interstatedaydream, while at Aqueduct the G3 Gazelle has attracted Venti Valentine and Classy Edition.

There aren’t many runners in the G2 Santa Anita Oaks, but one of them is the remarkable Adare Manor, who has won her last two races by an aggregate of 25 lengths.


Three of the last seven winners of the Ashland Stakes, the opening feature of the spring meet at Keeneland, have gone on to win the Kentucky Oaks, including last year’s heroine Malathaat. The race offers 100 RTKO points to the winner and a certain place in the gate at Churchill Downs in a month’s time.

Todd Pletcher bids for back-to-back wins in this race with Nest, who beat a decent field in the G2 Demoiselle over a mile-eighth at Aqueduct in December – Venti Valentine runner-up – and then cut loose when odds-on for a stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in February, winning by six from an overmatched bunch. She shows her best with stalking tactics, and there is a pace set-up here that should give her plenty of speed to run at.

Brad Cox won the Ashland with Monomoy Girl in 2018 and sends Interstatedaydream , runner-up in the G2 Adirondack at Saratoga in August and a dazzling winner of an allowance optional claimer at Oaklawn Park, on her first start off a seven-month layoff and her first beyond a mile. She pressed the pace before running wild down the straight, eight and a quarter lengths clear at the wire, and although it wasn’t a hot race she couldn’t have done more. Improvement is certain and she’ll be sharper second run back.

They are different types from Happy Soul, who stretches out here after three straight wins in sprints, the most recent when clearing away to win by three lengths in a stakes over six furlongs at Oaklawn Park in February, her first run after a break of eight and a half months. She’ll have the speed to lead and will improve with that run under her belt, but the extra mileage is an issue.

There was a big form boost for Cocktail Moments when Kathleen O. won the Gulfstream Park Oaks last weekend, as she had finished third, beaten only three and a quarter lengths, behind Kathleen O. in the G2 Davona Dale at the Miami circuit, her first start in Graded company. She was doing her best work in the closing stages and will appreciate the extra sixteenth today.

This is third time around for Awake At Midnyte and Miss Mattie B, who were separated by six and a half lengths when running two-three behind Under The Stars in the G2 Santa Ynez at Santa Anita in January, and then by two lengths when third and fifth in the G2 Rachel Alexandra at the Fair Grounds in February. On the evidence, Awake At Midnyte is some way the better of the two, but she is zero-for-three in Graded stakes and needs to step up.

It’s the first time away from Aqueduct for Sterling Silver, who nailed a sprint stakes in January before running last (of five) throughout in the mile stakes won by the aforementioned Venti Valentine last month. Whatever the reason – distance, class – this is a pretty tough spot for a recovery mission.

Our Ashland Stakes Betting Prediction

Grade 2 winner Nest sets the standard, but INTERSTATEDAYDREAM couldn’t have been more impressive when winning off a long layoff last time and looks ready for this step up in class

HorseJockeyHorse Racing Odds courtesy of JazzSports
Miss Mattie BJoel Rosario+1500
InterstatedaydreamFlorent Geroux+275
Awake At MidnyteMario Gutierrez+450
NestIrad Ortiz, Jr.+200
Sterling SilverJose L. Ortiz+1500
Happy SoulJohn R. Velazquez+300
Cocktail MomentsCorey J. Lanerie+1200
Heavenly HellosEdgar Morales+5000


The final 100pt RTKO prep is the Gazelle on a stakes-heavy Saturday card at Aqueduct, in which the focus is on a filly who has already earned her place in the gate for the Kentucky Oaks.

It’s a return to the Big A for Venti Valentine, who punched her ticket to Churchill Downs when scampering seven lengths clear of longshot Shotgun Hottie in the ungraded Busher Invitational over a mile last month, confirming the promise she had shown when running Nest – who will give a guide to the form when she runs in the Ashland at Keeneland on Friday – to a neck in the G2 Demoiselle over today’s course and distance, her only defeat in four starts.

Shotgun Hottie had previously won a stakes here over seven furlongs, just getting up in the final strides to win by a nose, and could well be suited by the return to a longer distance.

Todd Pletcher is doubly represented, with Classy Edition the barn selected. She won a stakes here over six furlongs in November, and then coped admirably with a hike in class and distance when a staying-on runner-up to Kathleen O. in the G2 Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park over a mile last month, losing her unbeaten record in the process. That winner has since franked the form with another G2 score and is one of the leading contenders for the Oaks, so it was encouraging that Classy Edition could get within two lengths of her, and the extra furlong today should suit.

Barnmate Greatitude , winner of a seven-furlong maiden at Gulfstream Park, couldn’t cope with a rise in class for the G3 Forward Gal over the same course and distance and stretches out another quarter-mile for the first time today.

Demoiselle fourth Nostalgic – four and a quarter lengths behind Venti Valentine – took advantage of class relief when winning an allowance optional claimer at Gulfstream Park by six and three-quarter lengths last month, clearing right away through the stretch, and is worthy of another crack at Graded company. That also applies to Divine Huntress, who had no sort of trip in the G2 Rachel Alexandra at the Fair Grounds, being pushed wide on more than one occasion, and is likely better than her ninth place in New Orleans suggests.

The admirable Morning Matcha has never been off the board in nine starts and made her stakes breakthrough over the extended mile at Parx Racing last time, when she outclassed her three rivals to the tune of six and three-quarter lengths. That was easy and this will be tougher, but her consistency is encouraging and she has run well on both her starts at the Big A. She’s much more plausible than Caragate, a state-bred maiden winner here at a mile before finishing a well-beaten third in a stakes over the same course and distance.

Our Gazelle Top Pick

Venti Valentine has fine form at this track, but CLASSY EDITION ran a lifetime best when runner-up to the high-class Kathleen O. in a Grade 2 last time, and can return to winning ways.

HorseJockeyHorse Racing Odds courtesy of JazzSports
Morning MatchaFrankie Pennington+800
GreatitudeJavier Castellano+1500
NostalgicJose L. Ortiz+450
Shotgun HottieTrevor McCarthy+1200
Venti ValentineManuel Franco+140
Classy EditionJoel Rosario+250
Divine HuntressDylan Davis+800
CaragateEric Cancel+3000

Santa Anita Oaks

One of the main features of the final preps for the Churchill Downs classics has been the dispersal of Bob Baffert trainees as they chase RTKD and RTKO points, with trainer Tim Yakteen the recipient of several big names. He sends two of those big names to the gate for the Santa Anita Oaks, the highlight of the undercard at the Los Angeles track on Saturday.

The pick of Yakteen’s pair should be the fast-improving Adare Manor, who graduated to Graded company in stunning style when tearing up the track in the G3 Las Virgenes here at a mile. It was a short field just like today – only four runners – and Adare Manor was dominant, muscling into the lead after the first quarter and then simply extending her advantage all the way to the wire, hitting it 13 lengths clear.

The bare form may not mean much – the third horse is still a maiden – but the visual impression was that of a filly going places very fast. On her previous start she had done exactly the same thing in a maiden over the same course and distance, blitzing the field to score by 12 lengths from Micro Share who kept on best of the rest when Adare Manor was just a dot in the distance.

Micro Share franked the form next time out when breaking her maiden here over a mile by four and a half lengths, and although she is clearly on the upgrade she has a mountain to climb to turn around that deficit with Adare Manor.

Yakteen’s second-string is the more seasoned Under The Stars, who made her stakes breakthrough when winning the G2 Santa Ynez here over seven furlongs in January, turning back the challenge of Awake At Midnyte, who’ll give a line to the form when she runs in the Ashland at Keeneland on Friday.

Next time out Under The Stars stretched out over course and distance in the G2 Santa Ysabel and saw out the extra mileage well, pressing former barnmate Eda all the way to the line and beaten just a half-length. She was comfortably ahead of third-placed Ain’t Easy and longshot Desert Dawn in fourth, beaten three and three-quarter lengths and another length, and is evidently a high-class filly, a known quantity in comparison with Adare Manor, who could be anything.

Prior to the Santa Ysabel, Ain’t Easy had posted an impressive win in the G2 Chandelier over course and distance in October, again finishing ahead of barnmate Desert Dawn, who was six lengths back in third and is zero-for-four in Graded stakes since breaking her maiden. On the evidence Ain’t Easy is by some way the better of Phil D’Amato’s pair and should be sharper now, as the Santa Ysabel was her first start off a five-month break.

Our Santa Anita Oaks Betting Prediction

Tim Yakteen holds a pair of aces; Under The Stars is a solid contender but barnmate ADARE MANOR has won her last two starts by a total of 25 lengths and could be a class apart.

HorseJockeyHorse Racing Odds courtesy of JazzSports
Desert DawnUmberto Rispoli+2000
Ain’t EasyJuan J. Hernandez+400
Under the StarsMike E. Smith+250
Micro ShareVictor Espinoza+800
Adare ManorJohn R. Velazquez-167

Beaumont **Odds will be updated soon**

The Beaumont, the standout at Keeneland on Sunday, is officially a Kentucky Oaks prep, but the ten RTKO points available to the winner aren’t going to make much difference when it comes to qualification for the big race.

Money can buy you lots of things but it can’t guarantee success when buying a racehorse. Gina Romantica cost connections more than a million dollars, but this time it could be money well spent judged on her debut victory at Tampa Bay Downs last month, when she was odds-on and justified that billing when rallying to score by a length and a quarter. She goes another furlong today and is sure to improve.

From the least experienced to the most seasoned – Lady Scarlet is three-for-seven and unbeaten in two this year, improving to win a six-furlong stakes at Aqueduct last time, drawing clear to win by four and three-quarter lengths. She stretches out for the first time today and should appreciate it, although that may not be the case for Chi Town Lady, twice a winner at five and a half furlongs, including a stakes at Saratoga, but then beaten twice at six furlongs and coming here off a five-month layoff.

One stepping back up in distance is Matareya, an easy winner of a Fair Grounds allowance over six furlongs – Reagan’s Decision third, five and three-quarter lengths back – following on from her solid showing when runner-up to Secret Oath, subsequently third against colts in the G1 Arkansas Derby, at Oaklawn Park over a mile. She was beaten a long way but showed willing behind a quality rival and this in-between distance may be ideal.

Two defeats in stakes company have dented the reputation of Radio Days, and she was a big letdown when fourth at odds-on behind Venti Valentine – runs in the Gazelle at Aqueduct on Saturday – in the Busher Invitational over a mile at Aqueduct, but this looks easier and the cut back in distance might help. It would be no surprise to see her bounce back, while Majestic D’Oro, who snapped a four-race losing streak when romping by five and a half in an allowance optional claimer at Turfway Park, is in good heart at present and worth a try up in grade.

Our Beaumont Top Pick

LADY SCARLET, a stakes winner last time out, is on a roll and is the choice to take her winning streak to three, especially as the extra furlong is likely to bring further improvement.

HorseJockeyHorse Racing Odds courtesy of JazzSports
Lady Scarlet (KY)Jose L. Ortiz+350
Radio Days (KY)Joel Rosario+300
Majestic d’Oro (KY)Joseph Talamo+1500
Gina Romantica (KY)Irad Ortiz. Jr+500
Reagan’s Decision (KY)Luis Saez+800
Chi Town Lady (KY)John R. Velazquez+600
Matareya (KY)Flavien Prat+200

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