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Post Time: Untapable looms large in Kentucky Oaks

By Gene Kershner 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The 140th Run for the Lilies, also known as the $1 million Grade 1 Longines Kentucky Oaks, is the feature race on Friday’s card under the iconic Twin Spires at Churchill Downs. An overflow crowd of over 110,000 is expected for one of the biggest races of the year for 3-year-old fillies. The race will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network during a two-hour telecast starting at 4 p.m. post time for the Oaks is 5:49 p.m.

Untapable (4-5), the overwhelming favorite for embattled trainer Steve Asmussen, will face 12 other fillies and will have to overcome the far outside post to win this year's edition of the Oaks. Jockey Rosie Napravnik will attempt to win her second Oaks in the past three years. She won the 2012 Oaks aboard Believe You Can, making her the first female jockey to win the Kentucky Oaks.

Asmussen, who won the 2005 Oaks with Summerly, isn't too concerned with the outside post for his star filly. Being caught wide on the first turn has done in a number of horses in the 1 1/8-mile race.  "You don't know if a draw's good until after the race runs," said Asmussen. "If she's away cleanly, finds a nice spot going into the first turn, you can see how it's ideal. If somebody blows the turn and takes her into the parking lot, then it's not the spot to be!"

She's won her last two races at the Fair Grounds by combined 17 1/4-lengths, so she looms large for some of her competitors to try to outrun her.  One competitor who has been training lights out and will challenge the Tapit filly will be Rosalind (8-1) who comes off a dead-heat victory in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland.

Trained by Ken McPeek and ridden by talented jockey Joel Rosario, last year's Derby winning rider, the daughter of Broken Vow has the pedigree to stay the distance and finished a strong third in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies behind She's A Tiger and Ria Antonia, two very talented horses. She has a good race at Churchill under her belt where she made up a lot of late ground finishing third behind Untapable in the Grade 2 Pocahontas as a 2-year-old.

She should save some ground with from her inside post and should sit right off the front runners' mid-pack before making her late move. Based on the way she's trained over the Churchill dirt and coming in third off the layoff she should be peaking just at the right time.

I'm likely to play those two on top with My Miss Sophia (8-1) and Sugar Shock (12-1) in the second spots and include Unbridled Forever (12-1) with those four in the show spot.

My Miss Sophia comes off two straight wins, is lightly raced and has looked strong in her workouts at Churchill. She'll have Javier Castellano in the irons and will look to provide trainer Todd Pletcher his second straight and fourth career Oaks victory.  Pletcher also has Got Lucky (20-1) in the field, a filly who finished 7 1/4-lengths behind My Miss Sophia in the Grade 2 Gazelle.

The top trainer wasn't exactly thrilled with My Miss Sophia's outside post.  "Not an ideal draw for us," Pletcher said. "But we can adjust to it. My Miss Sophia has enough speed that she'll be able to find a good position. And Got Lucky is going to drop back and make a run, so post isn't that important. They'll both be fine.

Sugar Shock (12-1) has the King of Churchill in the saddle with Calvin Borel, who from the 3-hole will be able to get to the rail fairly quickly with this daughter of Candy Ride. She is riding a four-race winning streak into the Oaks for trainer Doug Anderson who is seeking his first Oaks victory.

Unbridled Forever (12-1) is the daughter of 2006 Oaks winner Lemons Forever who upset that field at 47-1. She's my long shot play and although she was defeated handily by Untapable in the Fair Grounds Oaks, she has the bloodlines that has produced an Oaks champion.

Breaking out of post No. 9, Robby Albarado will have several options for Unbridled Forever according to trainer Dallas Stewart. "She's real easy to ride, looks to be a rateable, kind filly," he said. "She can go either way - press the pace or lay back. It doesn't matter."

Post Time Outlook: $0.50 Trifecta:  4,13/3,4,11,13/3,4,9,11,13  Cost: $13.50

Here is your field for the 140th running of the Kentucky Oaks: 

PP

Horse

Jockey

Odds

1

Please Explain

Lezcano

50-1

2

Ria Antonia

Smith

10-1

3

Sugar Shock

Borel

12-1

4

Rosalind

Rosario

8-1

5

Thank You Marylou

Leparoux

30-1

6

Kiss Moon

Espinoza

30-1

7

Fashion Plate

Stevens

6-1

8

Aurelia's Belle

Hill

50-1

9

Unbridled Forever

Albarado

12-1

10

Empress of Midway

Nakatani

50-1

11

My Miss Sophia

Castellano

8-1

12

Got Lucky

Velazquez

12-1

13

Untapable

Napravnik

4-5

Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.

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Horse Racing
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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.

@WDX2BB | bbailey@buffnews.com

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