(My Miss Lilly / Photo by Holly M. Smith Photography…I’m going to tell you folks one thing…this is one of the best photos and photographers I have ever seen in the industry. As in EVER. I am going to blow this picture up with our tech guys and use it some day where you can really appreciate it. It is drop dead gorgeous.)

From the Media Team at Churchill Downs:


CHOCOLATE MARTINI – Double Doors Racing’s Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) winner Chocolate Martini galloped 1 ½ miles Thursday morning for trainer Tom Amoss and visited the equine spa.

The spa, which is located adjacent to Amoss’ barn at Churchill Downs, is a 15-minute salt water treatment that helps horse’s blood flow.

CLASSY ACT/PATRONA MARGARITA – Carl Moore’s Classy Act, ridden by Peter Mudd, and Craig Upham’s Patrona Margarita, with Simon Camacho up, galloped 1 ½ miles at 5:30 Thursday morning for trainer Bret Calhoun.

“They’re loving the track,” Calhoun said. “They look good and we’re ready for Friday.”

COACH ROCKS – Roddy Valente, RAP Racing and West Point ThoroughbredsCoach Rocks galloped 1 ½ miles Thursday morning at 7:30 for Churchill Downs’ all-time leading trainer Dale Romans.

Coach Rocks drew post No. 2 for the Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) and is 12-1 on the morning line with Luis Saez aboard.

ESKIMO KISSES – Magdalena Racing, Gainesway Stable and Harold Lerner’s Eskimo Kissesgalloped 1 ½ miles Thursday under exercise rider Mario Conbento for trainer Kenny McPeek.

Eskimo Kisses will break from post No. 13 in the Longines Kentucky Oaks with Churchill Downs’ perennial leading rider Corey Lanerie in the saddle.

HEAVENHASMYNIKKI – Loooch Racing StablesHeavenhasmynikki completed her preparations for Friday’s Kentucky Oaks by jogging twice around the track with JakeRadosevich up Thursday morning.

A two-time winner, Heavenhasmynikki schooled in the paddock during Wednesday’s second race, a race that was won by her stablemate Haywired.

“She did good in there yesterday and she will walk in the morning,” trainer Anthony Quartarolo said of the filly who will be ridden by Calvin Borel in the Oaks.

Heavenhasmynikki never has raced on an “off track” but with a chance of rain in the forecast for Thursday afternoon as well as Friday morning and afternoon, a less than fast track is a possibility.

“She seemed to like it when she galloped on it,” Quartarolo said. “It is always nice to have a fast track, but you can’t fight Mother Nature.”

The 1 1/8-mile Oaks will mark Heavenhasmynikki’s debut racing two turns, and Quartarolo is hoping a speed duel develops on the front end Friday to help his filly.

“We have speed to the inside of us and to the outside,” Quartarolo said. “I’d like to see Calvin save ground and get her to relax and hope he times (her move) right. I think she will like two turns so she can relax instead of being in a sprint where the pressure is there to go.”

MIDNIGHT BISOU – The Santa Anita Oaks (GI) winner Midnight Bisou went trackside from Barn 38 at approximately 7:40 Thursday morning during the special Oaks/Derby training session. She was handled for trainer Bill Spawr by exercise rider Jesus Comacho, who doubles at home as the top outrider on the Southern California circuit.

Comacho took the daughter of champion Midnight Lute for a stroll around the Churchill Downs paddock, then went back to the main track for a mile and three-quarters gallop that finished up with an “open gallop” through the lane.

“She went well today,” Camacho said. “She was more relaxed. The last part of the gallop we went ‘open’ and she felt like she was doing :13s to me for the last three eighths.”

Churchill clockers timed the filly’s move through the stretch and gave her a :26.60 clocking for a quarter-mile.

Midnight Bisou is owned by Allen Racing and Bloom Racing Stable and comes into the $1 million Kentucky Oaks with a record of three wins and two very close seconds in five lifetime starts. She’ll be ridden in the nine-furlong Grade I by Mike Smith.

Spawr said the filly’s schooling session in the Churchill paddock Wednesday afternoon was enough of that and that she’d stay in the barn today. She’s scheduled to go to the track during the 5:45-6 a.m. Oaks/Derby training period Oaks Day.

MONOMOY GIRL/SASSY SIENNA/KELLY’S HUMOR – It was the calm before storm Thursday morning in the Brad Cox barn as he makes final preparations for one of the busiest and high-profile days of his career Friday. He will not only start three fillies in the Kentucky Oaks, including morning-line favorite Monomoy Girl, but has eight other runners on the 13-race card.

Monomoy Girl, Sassy Sienna and Kelly’s Humor all went out to train at 7:30 a.m. and galloped 1 ½ miles.

“This was their last day to train,” Cox said. “They’ll all just walk tomorrow. Everything’s good. I was happy with how they all gate schooled yesterday. We’re ready.”

MY MISS LILLY – Courtlandt FarmsMy Miss Lilly jogged two laps around the track at 6:30 this morning, the first ponied by Monnie Goetz and the second setting off on her own around the 9/16ths pole. Emerson Chavez was aboard.

Trainer Mark Hennig described his ideal scenario – with a bit of humor – for the running of the Kentucky Oaks: “I’d like to see a nice live pace,” he said. “Not stupid, but a nice live pace, get some speed up there on the front end. Monomoy Girl get hung about eight wide in the first turn, Midnight Bisou get trapped behind horses at the quarter pole, and us have a clean trip. Not that those are the only ones to beat, but that would be a good start.”

Hennig said My Miss Lilly will walk tomorrow morning.

RAYYA – Sheikh Rashid Bin Humaid Al Nuaimi’s UAE Derby (GII) runner-up Rayya was out during the Oaks and Derby training session to gallop about 1 1/4 miles under exercise rider Dana Barnes.

“She just floats over the track, she’s such a nice mover,” Barnes said. “We’re very happy with her.”

Barnes has been impressed by the filly physically, but also mentally, due to the way she’s handled such extensive shipping, from Dubai to California to Kentucky, and the resulting changes of scenery.

“She’s got so much class and just acts like she’s been here her whole life,” said Barnes, referring to Churchill Downs. “All these people and nothing bothers her.”

The Baffert team has been highly complimentary of the condition Rayya was already in when they received her from Doug Watson, a former assistant to Kiaran McLaughlin who is regularly among the leading trainers in Dubai.

“A lot of the horses that come from over there will be a little stiff but from day one she was perfect,” Barnes said.

Baffert said that what they’re attempting to pull off is “nearly impossible” but that he, too, was more hopeful after seeing how she arrived at Santa Anita.

“She came over in really great shape and she looks healthy and she’s happy,” he said. “Last time she got beat by Mendelssohn who just freaked that night. Nobody was going to beat him that night. But she beat the rest of the other boys there, so she’s definitely a tough filly. And I expect her to run a big race.”

Baffert gave the mount to Louisville native Drayden Van Dyke after they worked the filly at Santa Anita for the first time on April 21, in company with Abel Tasman, when they shared the fastest work of the day, six furlongs in 1:12.80 from the gate.

“The track is pretty deep at Santa Anita so that’s pretty good,” Van Dyke said. “She moves really good and is really classy so I’m happy to be on her.”

Assessing today’s gallop on his first morning at Churchill Downs this week, Van Dyke said: “Dana really got her to relax nice and she looked great.”

TAKE CHARGE PAULA – Peter Deutsch’s Take Charge Paula galloped 1 3/8 miles under exercise rider Jason Gracia before visiting the starting gate Thursday morning.

The daughter of Take Charge Indy set the pace last time out in the 1 1/16-mile Gulfstream Park Oaks before finishing second, 1 ½ lengths behind Coach Rocks and 10 lengths ahead of the third-place finisher.

“We put blinkers on (for the Kentucky Oaks), which might make her more forwardly placed, but she already is forwardly placed. It depends on what No. 14 (Monomoy Girl) does – if she goes, breaks slow or doesn’t go – but we’ll be forwardly placed,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “Jose Ortiz knows her. He rode her last time. We think the distance is not an issue. It’s more of a question mark than the colt {Enticed in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby} to me, but I don’t think it’ll be an issue. She ran very well last time around two turns.”

WONDER GADOT – Wonder Gadot galloped 1 ¼ miles with regular rider Orlando Crossduring the 7:30-7:45 training period for Kentucky Derby and Oaks horses.

Owner Gary Barber was on site to watch her train. Trainer Mark Casse’s ideal scenario for the running of the Oaks is simple: “A lot of speed, we sit mid-pack and come running.”

John Velazquez, who won the 2004 Oaks on Ashado, has the mount Friday.


The field for the Longines Kentucky Oaks with jockey and morning-line odds from the rail out, is: Sassy Sienna (Gary Stevens, 15-1), Coach Rocks (Luis Saez, 12-1), Classy Act (Brian Hernandez Jr., 15-1), Chocolate Martini (Javier Castellano, 12-1), Wonder Gadot (John Velazquez, 20-1), Kelly’s Humor (Irad Ortiz Jr., 30-1), Rayya (Drayden Van Dyke, 15-1), Heavenhasmynikki (Calvin Borel, 30-1), Take Charge Paula (Jose Ortiz, 15-1), Midnight Bisou (Mike Smith 5-2), My Miss Lilly (Joe Bravo, 10-1), Patrona Margarita (Ricardo Santana Jr., 30-1), Eskimo Kisses (Corey Lanerie, 15-1) and Monomoy Girl (Florent Geroux, 2-1). All starters will carry 121 pounds.


2018 Kentucky Oaks Post Position Draw
Post # Horse Trainer Jockey ML Odds
1 Sassy Sienna Brad Cox Gary Stevens 15-to-1
2 Coach Rocks Dale Romans Luis Saez 12-to-1
3 Classy Act Bret Calhoun Brian Hernandez 15-to-1
4 Chocolate Martini Tom Amoss Javier Castellano 12-to-1
5 Wonder Gadot Mark Casse John Velazquez 20-to-1
6 Kelly’s Humor Brad Cox Irad Ortiz, Jr 30-to-1
7 Rayya Bob Baffert Drayden Van Dyke 15-to-1
8 Heavenhasmynikki Anthony Quartarolo Calvin Borel 30-to-1
9 Take Charge Paula Kiaran McLaughlin Jose Ortiz 15-to-1
10 Midnight Bisou Bill Spawr Mike Smith 5-to-2
11 My Miss Lilly Mark Hennig Joe Bravo 10-to-1
12 Patrona Margarita Bret Calhoun Ricardo Santana, Jr 30-to-1
13 Eskimo Kisses Kenny McPeek Corey Lanerie 15-to-1
14 Monomoy Girl Brad Cox Florent Geroux 2-to-1

Monomoy Girl will go to the gate for the 2018 Kentucky Oaks as the unsurprising 2-1 favorite, but if the Ashland Stakes winner is to cap a dream start to the year for trainer Brad Cox, she will have to do it from the outside post in the full 14 horse field. During Monday’s drawing for Friday’s Oaks, the daughter of Tapizar drew post 14 while fellow Cox trainee, and barn upstart Sassy Sienna drew the 1 hole.

Monomoy Girl will look to get a clean break to battle for early position towards the front with Eskimo Kisses, breaking right inside from post 13, likely to drop back and make a late charge under local Corey Lanerie.

Meanwhile, the main challenger to Monomy Girl, Midnight Bisou, will break from the 10 slot for Bill Spawr and Mike Smith. The daughter of Midnight Lute, coming off a sweep of the Santa Anita Oaks preps, will go to the gate as the 5-2 second choice.

Mark Hennig will saddle third-favorite My Miss Lilly for Courtland Farms. The well-bred progeny of Tapit will have east coast-based Joe Bravo aboard at a morning line of 10-1 breaking right outside Midnight Bisou from post 11.

Fair Grounds Oaks winner Chocolate Martini, morning line 12-1, will break from post 4 and will again try to get the run on Wonder Gadot, third place finisher at Fair Grounds, who breaks right to the outside in post 5.

NBC sports will once again be airing the Oaks which is set for a 6:12 post time on Friday in what looks to be ominous weather conditions.