OAKS DAY PICKS: Is Paradise Woods Vulnerable?

Paradise Woods
Gene thinks Paradise Woods is very vulnerable today.

Race 3: 5-2-8-9-7

Elate, the 5, comes back after a disastrous trip in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes. If she returns to her normal run, she will air here. Neil Howard is a top class trainer and will have the 2 ready. Castellano picks up a mount on the 8 and automatically gives this one a shot.

 

Race 4: 8-7-2-4-6-9

Sassy Little Lila, the 8, loves a yielding/soft grass surface. It will take a lot to beat her today. Marquette, the 7, needed her last and the Tapit filly will run much better today. The top two here are significantly better than the rest, in my opinion. If the race comes off the turf, Flying Tipat, and Princess Princess move up.

 

Race 5: 8-4-6-1-9

There was a huge scratch here with Finest City –the would-be 8– will not start. This opens Race 5 up mightily. Trainer Chad Brown  will have Paid Up Subscriber ready today off her first run of the year. Key the 4 here over and under the rest. Eskenformoney and Go Maggie Go like the off going. NOTE: Throw a little across the board on Go Maggie Go. She ran huge here a year ago.

Race 6: 9-2-8-1-4-11-5

AMERICAN FREEDOM GETS HER FIRST START SINCE LAST AUGUST AND THAT MAY BE THE ONLY THING THAT CAN BEAT HIM, BUT HE IS TRAINED BY BAFFERT – WHO GETS THEM READY. HUGE JOCKEY CHANGE ON BREAKING LUCKY. HE WILL RUN MUCH BETTER TODAY AND WOULD NOT BE SURPRISED IF HE WINS…NOBLE BIRD HAS, HAS, HAS TO HAVE THE LEAD. CAN HE GET IT?

American Freedom, the 9, gets her first start since last August and that may be the only thing that can beat him. He is trained by the great Bob Baffert — who gets them ready. Huge jockey change on Breaking Lucky. He will run much better today and I would not be surprised if he wins. Noble Bird has, has, has to have the lead. Can he get it?

 

Race 7: 8-12-5-3-4

Pure Sensation, the 8, has not run since the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint last November, and that might compromise his chances. BUt, he likes a yielding course and he is the best. Green Mask, the 12, tries every time, and you have to use underneath. Use Maniacal. I love this horse to hit the board at a price.

 

Race 8: 4-5-7-2-3-1-9-10-11-14

As you can see, you have to spread out your horizontal plays here (Pick 3s). But I love, love, love Pretty City Dancer today. Gets a rider today that has won on her before. To be honest, I think Rosario is highly overrated and gets more horses in trouble than any jockey who is supposed to be in the Top 10). This filly is 8-1 morning line. My best pick of the day with two dots, and you better believe I’ll be playing him across the board, in addition to over and under in lots of exactas with the rest of the numbers above. Another bomb in Gris Gris, the 5, could surprise. Golden Mischief, the 7, is 12-1 morning line and could turn this into a record trifecta. I will use Union Strike, who ships in from Santa Anita and has never seen rain like this before. I picked Ghalia when she won on Jan. 22 to break her maiden. I don’t like her so much today.

 

Race 9: 7-9-12-3-4-1-8

TAKE A BREAK FROM ALL THE STAKES AND GET A ROUTE ON THE MUD. I DON’T THINK THEY CAN TOUCH TOM’S D’ETAT IF HE RUNS HIS RACE AND IS NOT COMPROMISED BY THE MUD. DECORATED SOLDIER WOULD BE MY 2ND CHOICE, BUT MAKE SURE YOU USE GOATS TOWN WITH A NEW RIDER – LANERIE. SHOULD MOVE WAY UP TODAY AND LOVES THE MUD. COULD SURPRISE AT A PRICE.

Take a break from all the stakes races and get a route on the mud. I don’t think they can touch Tom’s D’etat, the 7, if he runs his race and is not compromised by the mud. Decorated Soldier, the 9,  would be my second choice. But make sure you use Goats Town with a new rider — Lanerie. Should move way up today and loves the mud. Could surprise at a price.

 

Race 10: 1A-7-1-4-12-9-11

La CORONEL IS A WONDERFUL GRASS FILLY BY COLONEL JOHN. THE ENTRY WILL BE VERY TOUGH WITH DREAM DANCING ADDING A LOT TO THE TEAM. EITHER CAN WIN AND THEY MAY RUN FIRST AND SECOND – THUS MAKING THEM A GREAT BET ACROSS THE BOARD DESPITE THE LOW ODDS. IF THEY BOTH HIT, YOU GET BOTH PAYOFFS. PROCTOR’S LEDGE HAS A SHOT. INDIA MANTUANA WILL BE OVERBET, IN MY OPINION. LOOKING FOR A PRICE? GO TO YOU MISSED IT.

La Coronel is a wonderful grass filly by Colonel John. The entry will be very tough with Dream Dancing adding a lot to the team. Either can win and they may run first and second — thus makoing them a great bet across the board despite the low odds. If they both hit, you get both payoffs. Proctor’s Ledge has a shot. India Mantutana will be overbet. If you’re looking for a price, go to You Missed It.

 

Race 11: 13-7-12-4-14-1-6-10

What a great field for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Oaks. When Unique Bella was pulled out of training and consideration by trainer Jerry Hollendorfer (just like he did a year ago with Songbird), every horse fan sighed. But this is a great field of fillies. Not good. Great. Love the 13 here — Abel Tasman. She finished nearly 12 lengths behind Paradise Woods in the Santa Anita Oaks, in her first start for Baffert. But there was no speed to challenge Paradise Woods that day and it did not set up well for The Tasman. She gets a much, much better scenario today and I think her odds go up from 5-1. Do not overlook her. Farrell has won twice out of 4 starts at Churchill Downs and twice three starts on the wet surface. Do not overlook her, either. Here’s the longshot play: Daddy’s Lil Darling. Loves the wet weather and Churchill Downs. And, I love the way Kenny McPeek trains up to the big races. Use the 12.

I know what you are thinking… “How do you not use Paradise Woods?”

Well, I am going to use her, but I am just not going to key or single. I think she is a vulnerable favorite today for several reasons

  1. No way she can equal her last race. Bounce Theory Applies here in flashing colors.
  2. She sees mud today… For the first time at race time.
  3. She has only run three races lifetime and she has never seen the crowd in the stands today, or the size of the field before. The biggest field she has faced was ten horses in her maiden win. She will be hugely overbet. TVG handicappers don’t think she can lose. I don’t think she can win.

Let’s get it on!

 

We’re looking at it with Seeking the Soul right now. It was his (owner Charles Fipke) decision. He wants to run Seeking the Soul, so that’s what we’re doing. We think he’s got a big shot. A lot of things went into (Fipke’s) decision, and his final decision was just to run one (rather than the mare Forever Unbridled, who won this year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff). And John Velazquez was very happy to have Seeking the Soul, as I understand, running in the race. He wants to ride him. He likes the horse. I think that was probably a big selling factor.

Trainer Dallas Steward, after Seeking the Soul worked at The Fair Grounds
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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