The 2020 Kentucky Oaks Pick 5 Analysis

September 3, 2020

Our own Michael Vale dissects the late Pick 5 at Churchill Downs.

I’m really excited to start my first article for Past The Wire! For those who don’t know, I have been Jon’s co-host on PTW’s new podcast “Gate To Wire.” For those interested, please consider listening! Now on to the business at hand… I am typically a horizontal horseplayer. There are many reasons why, but the main reason is the pick 5 usually has the lowest takeout at most tracks. They are also complicated bets that are difficult for syndicate models to overcome. More than that, I enjoy that horizontal wagers allow you to potentially turn a small wager into a big profit! Here I will give you my picks for the late pick 5 on Oaks day. I’ll be honest, this looks like a chalky sequence to me. Because of that, I recommend narrowing your ticket the best you can and play it multiple times. This is not a good sequence for a wide .50 cent wager. Let’s go narrow and hammer our opinions!

8 Belles Stakes G-2; CD R8

Distance/Surface: 7 Furlongs Dirt

Full Field with Morning Lines (**Favorite:):

  1. **Mundaye Call 6-5
  2. Never Forget 20-1
  3. Extra Effort 30-1
  4. Purrfectly Claire 15-1
  5. Sconsin 6-1
  6. Perfect Happiness 8-1
  7. Four Graces 7-5

Initial Thoughts: How appropriate that we start off the sequence with a 6-5 favorite and a 7-5 second choice. This might as well be the Oaks! I plan on using 2 horses in this leg, but I must throw out one of the favorites. Both favorites like to get to the lead and could get hooked up in a speed duel. If that duel occurs, I want to cover myself with the best closer in the race.  

Horses I like (Will use in the Pick 5):

  • Mundaye Call: I’m going to take Mundaye Call over Four Graces in this one. There is so much to like about this horse. She’s lightly raced as this will only be her 6th career start. I encourage anyone reading to go watch her last race. Not only did she set fast fractions, but she did so with ease. Florent Geroux, who rides again here, barely moved a muscle on this horse the entire race. He gave her a few pumps at the 1/8th poll and that was it. She drew off by 7 lengths and it could easily have been more. We are now getting Mundaye Call 3rd off a layoff so you could even project improvement from her last race. Even if she repeats that effort, she’ll win for fun.  Just for grins, she was a $950,000 purchase that debuted in Saratoga last summer. Their connections clearly thought she was destined for greatness and I’m not going to argue against them.
  • Sconsin: Listen, I know she’s lost to both favorites in her last 2 races. However, both Mundaye Call and Four Graces have been able to enjoy easy leads in their respective races. I certainly think a speed duel is possible here and if the leaders get cooked, look for Sconsin to close on the outside.

Horses I’m Playing against:

  • Four Graces: I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous leaving her off the ticket. But it has nothing to do with her and everything to do with how much I like Mundaye Call. To her credit, Four Graces has won 4 of her 5 career races including two grade 3’s. A few minor knocks lead me away. Although she is lightly raced, this will be her 6th race since March. It is hard for young racehorses to maintain their form for that long. Her competition is fresher. Her speed figures will also need to improve to catch MC.

Top Pick: Mundaye Call

Edgewood Stakes G-2; CD R9

Distance/Surface: 8 Furlongs Turf

Full Field with Morning Lines (**Favorite:):

  1. In Good Spirits 5-1
  2. Hendy Woods 4-1
  3. **Sharing 6-5
  4. Lucky Betty 20-1
  5. Outburst 8-1
  6. Pranked 8-1
  7. Mariafoot 20-1
  8. Wal in Marrakesh 6-1

Initial Thoughts: This race runs through the heavy favorite Sharing. She was so dominant last year that Graham Motion sent her to Ascot to compete against the best turf horses in the world. Will she bounce?

Horses I like (Will Use in the Pick 5):

  • Sharing: What can you say about this horse other than Wow! This Breeders’ Cup champion won 4 races in a row going into Ascot, where she lost heroically by 4 lengths to a very impressive European filly. Motion smartly gave this horse a 3-month layoff after that effort. I’m less worried about the bounce with this much rest. Her work tab also suggests that she’s feeling great back in the USA. She’s fired 3 bullet works in a row and doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon. She’s already beaten several other horses in this field. You’ll look a long time trying to find a flaw with this fabulous filly.
  • In Good Spirits: There is so little pace in this race, that she could be your early leader. I never want to leave the leader in a pace-less race off my ticket. She’s the only horse in the field that has come close to taking down Sharing. You can also project improvement here. This is her 3rd start off a long layoff and as a 3 year old. She loves the track, breaking her maiden at Churchill last year.

Horses I’m Playing Against:

  • Hendy Woods: She needed yielding turf to win last out at Indiana Grand and she has lost her only start on the Churchill turf. Also, I’m skeptical of the speed figures coming out of that Indiana race. The pace is likely to be slow in this race, which does not help her closing style.
  • Mariafoot: I gave here a long look at a price, but it is hard to back a horse that has done their best running off the turf.
  • Pranked: She is improving, but her only 2 victories have been a 40k maiden and a 30k optional claimer. I’ll let her beat me.
  • Walk In Marrakesh: She has yet to win in the US despite having plenty of chances.

Top Pick: Sharing

 Alysheba Stakes G-2; CD R10

Distance/Surface: 8.5 Furlongs Dirt

Full Field with Morning Lines (**Favorite:):

  1. Silver Dust 15-1
  2. Mckinzie 8-5
  3. Owendale 6-1
  4. Hence 50-1
  5. Mr. Freeze 6-1
  6. **By My Standards 7-5
  7. Title Ready 20-1
  8. Bodexpress 15-1

Initial Thoughts: This race turned out to be a pretty nice race! The pace will certainly be very contentious. I suspect that Bodexpress will try to break quickly from the outside and contest Silver Dust and Mr. Freeze for the early lead. Mckinzie and By My Standards will stalk while Owendale tries to close from the back.

Horses I like:

  • By My Standards: I’m shocked that he is the favorite here. Do not be surprised if Mckinzie is your favorite by post time. Regardless, I love By My Standards. He’s been ultra-consistent in his 4-year-old campaign. He’s won 3 races and placed twice this year. Also, his losses were to some monster horses including Improbable and Tom’s D Etat. I’ve reviewed his head-on replay in the Whitney and noticed he stumbled coming out of the gate. I didn’t notice this live because he recovered much faster than Tom’s D Etat did. I think there was a legitimate excuse for why he didn’t catch Improbable in the Whitney. His only start at Churchill was the 2019 Derby. But you can throw that race out. First, the Derby is such a crazy race where anything can happen. The track was sloppy, and By My Standards was not the same horse last year. His tactical speed should give him a perfect trip here. Single!

Horses I’m Playing Against:

  • Mckinzie: I know he’s the defending champion, but I’m going against Mckinzie in this spot. By My Standards is the better horse in my opinion especially at the distance. I think Baffert should keep this horse at 8 furlongs and under which is where Mckinzie has run his best races. He is a good horse. But when he goes up against the top-level, he’s shown time and time again that’s he’s just a step below. I believe By My Standards is a top-level horse. Mckinzie will show up, but likely running for second.
  • Bodexpress: He’s a fun horse, but he’ll have too much pace pressure to be competitive.
  • Mr. Freeze: I never want him going farther than a mile.
  • Hence: I’m embarrassed to admit that I bet him in the 2017 Derby…. Please don’t stop reading. I could give what my thought process was, but it would just make me look worse.
  • Silver Dust: He’s decent at the Grade 3 level, but these waters are too deep.
  • Owendale: He’ll make his run at the end. I don’t think he’s fast enough to catch up to the favorites, but he’s got a shot in the exotics. 

Top Pick: By My Standards (Single)

La Troienne Stakes G-1; CD R11

Distance/Surface: 8.5 Furlongs Dirt

Full Field with Morning Lines (**Favorite:):

  1. Horologist 4-1
  2. Vexatious 4-1
  3. With Dignity 30-1
  4. Saracosa 20-1
  5. Risky Mandate 20-1
  6. She’s a Julie 6-1
  7. Lady Kate 15-1
  8. **Monomoy Girl 4-5

Initial Thoughts: 8 horse field, 4-5 favorite, what’s not to love?

Horses I like:

  • Monomoy Girl: Listen, I was never in the camp of Midnight Bisou being better than Monomoy. I didn’t understand where that was coming from. I Know Bisou was impressive in Saudi against the boys, but she has still never finished ahead of Monomoy. This is the best mare in the country. Period. She’s won 9 races in a row (not including DQ.) Her only loss was back in 2017! Brad Cox has been patient with her and has her loaded in this spot. Monomoy Girl looked great in her 2 preps. She beat Vexatious by 2 lengths last out in the Ruffian. Vexatious is coming off a great, but certainly tiring, performance in the Cotillion. Don’t overthink this one. Single Monomoy Girl.

Horses I’m Playing Against:

  • Everyone Else: Good luck taking down the queen!

Top Pick: Monomoy Girl

Kentucky Oaks G-1; CD R9

Distance/Surface: 9 Furlongs Dirt

Full Field with Morning Lines (**Favorite:):

  1.  Swiss Skydiver 8-5
  2. Tempers Rising 50-1
  3. Donna Veloce 15-1
  4. Speech 5-1
  5. **Gamine 1-1
  6. Bayerness 50-1
  7. Shedaresthedevil 20-1
  8. Hopeful Growth 30-1
  9. Dream Marie 50-1

Initial Thoughts:

Horses I like:

  • Donna Veloce: This is the longshot horse that no one is talking about, and I don’t know why. She’s lightly raced, has great upside, and bred to love the distance. She had every excuse to lose the Santa Ysabel off a 4 month layoff. Instead she powered to a 4 length victory over Speech! Her workouts at Del Mar have been impressive, and she has every right to improve in her 2nd 3 year old start. Trainer Simon Callaghan is hitting at 24% in 2020! Don’t let this horse sneak up on you. 15-1 is a gift.
  • Gamine: The distance question is legitimate, but she might just be a freak. Her pedigree says she won’t get the distance. But sometimes I have to throw pedigree out the window and trust my eyes. She destroyed Venetian Harbor in the Test Stakes and she is a great filly in her own right. Gamine didn’t even look tired after the race. I think she could have run the same race again against fresh foes and still won. I know Speech nearly caught Gamine at 8.5 furlongs, but keep in mind that was only the 2nd race of Gamine’s career. It’s possible that she had not built up her stamina yet. Notice too that Baffert has given her another 6 furlong bullet prior to the race. He did the same thing before the Test and does this often when his horses are ready to fire a big one.

Horses I’m Playing Against:

  • Swiss Skydiver: She’s a great filly with a bright future. But today is not her day. She’s going up against a monster in Gamine. In races with multiple speed horses, it’s usually beneficial to find the speed of the speed. In my opinion the speed of the speed is Gamine. While Swiss may have more stamina, I could see her getting caught in a speed duel with Gamine which would eliminate her chances completely. If she tries to sit back and stalk Gamine, she’s risking not being able to catch her. I just don’t see a pace scenario where she can prevail. At the short price, I’m trying to beat.
  • Speech: While she is clearly improving, she’s had 2 shots to beat the favorites and failed both times. I’m also getting 3x the price on a horse who already beat her.

Top Pick: Donna Veloce

Final Ticket: $5;1,5/1,3/6/8/3,5 ; $40 Total

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Comments

  1. Kyle Sep 3, 2020 at 4:07 pm

    I believe By My Standards has run at CD twice. But your point still holds.

  2. Michael Vale Sep 4, 2020 at 3:35 pm

    Kyle, I think I may have missed that, but thank you! And thank you for reading!

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