While this year’s Kentucky Derby looks absolutely loaded at the top with a plethora of top runners, the 2018 Kentucky Oaks sets up more as a two-woman show. The best from the West, Midnight Bisou, and the Kentucky-based Monomoy Girl have dominated their competition so far, and now they are set to face each other in a Kentucky Oaks showdown. Twelve other fillies will have a say in the outcome, but it would be no surprise to see this year’s big race come down to the two top choices. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the likely field of 14, including my early odds …
1) Monomoy Girl (Tapizar–Drumette, by Henny Hughes) Brad Cox 9-5 – After suffering her only career defeat in a heart-breaker late last year in the Golden Rod, the Brad Cox-trained chestnut has looked near unbeatable this year while winning graded stakes at Fair Grounds and Keeneland.
2) Midnight Bisou (Midnight Lute–Diva Delite, by Repent) Bill Spawr 5-2 – The stretch runner from California made her competition look silly with a gigantic move in the Santa Anita Oaks. She’ll need that closing kick to run down her main rival at Churchill Downs.
3) Rayya (Tiz Wonderful–Spread, by Coronado’s Quest) Bob Baffert 8-1 – Bred in Kentucky, she began her career with five starts in Dubai. She won the UAE Oaks, and was second in the UAE Derby in her last two, albeit beaten by a pole by Mendelssohn in the last, and has since been transferred to the barn of Bob Baffert.
4) Coach Rocks (Oxbow–Mexican Moonlight, by El Prado) Dale Romans 12-1 – Much like her sire did back in 2013, this Dale Romans-trained filly is turning it on at the right time of year. Most recently she impressed while winning the Gulfstream Park Oaks in South Florida.
5) Eskimo Kisses (To Honor and Serve–Silver Colors, by Mr. Greeley) Kenny McPeek 12-1 – What she lacks in early speed, this filly from the barn of Kenny McPeek makes up for with a stout late kick. She’ll get more pace to run at in the Oaks then she did last time in the Ashland.
6) Sassy Sienna (Midshipman–Tap for Gold, by Pleasant Tap) Brad Cox 15-1 – In what turned out to be the race of the division so far in 2018, she stepped up her game to win an absolute thriller in Oaklawn Park’s Fantasy Stakes. She’s from the same barn as the Oaks favorite.
7) My Miss Lily (Tapit–Wicked Deed, by Harlan’s Holiday) Mark Hennig 15-1 – The talented daughter of Tapit may have turned the corner with a determined win in the Gazelle last time, but the competition on May 4 will get that much tougher for the Kentucky Oaks.
8) Wonder Gadot (Medaglia d’Oro–Loving Vindication, by Vindication) Mark Casse 15-1 – She clinched a championship in Canada by closing out 2017 with a nice score in the Demoiselle, but has yet to find the winner’s circle in four tries this year. Her last, a whisker loss in the Fantasy, was her best yet, though.
9) Chocolate Martini (Broken Vow–Nicksappealinglady, Successful Appeal) Tom Amoss 20-1 – After three straight claiming races, the Amoss-trainee has turned things around completely in her last two starts, including an upset in the Fair Grounds Oaks.
10) Blamed (Blame–Salsa Star, by Giant’s Causeway) Joel Marr 20-1 – Bred in Maryland,she has been a monster in New Mexico, and seems to be getting better with each start. She will be tested for class in Louisville.
11) Take Charge Paula (Take Charge Indy–Perfect Paula, by Songandaprayer) 20-1 – Experienced and consistent, the daughter of Take Charge Indy has finished first or second in six straight stakes races.She’ll add speed to the fray.
12) Classy Act (Into Mischief–Acting Class, by Distorted Humor) Bret Calhoun 30-1 – Talented and speedy, the Calhoun-trained filly was not able to hold them off last time as the favorite in the Fair Grounds Oaks.
13) Red Ruby (Tiznow–Caroni, by Rubiano) Kellyn Gorder 30-1 – The Martha Washington winner disappointed next out in the Honeybee. She will need to step it up for her late run to have much impact in here.
14) Patrona Margarita (Special Rate–Margarita Mistress, by Naevus) Ian Kruljac 30-1 – The upset winner of the Pocahontas at Churchill Downs last fall, has been smoked by Monomoy Girl in her only two starts this year.
Photo of Monomoy Girl courtesy of Hodges Photography