Wednesday, May 2, 2018

2018 Kentucky Oaks Pick: Monomoy Girl

I'll get back into handicapping-contest themes next week, particularly the Public Handicapper's end to its ties with the NHC, but in keeping with tradition will use my next few posts to assess the Kentucky Oaks and Derby.

My Derby selections will be up by Friday.

The Oaks tends to get short shrift, set off a little after 6 p.m. ET when the average sports fan is slogging through the afternoon rush. But if you're around the television on Friday afternoon or at a pub enjoying happy hour, the coverage starts on NBCSN at 5 o'clock.

Monomoy Girl is my selection to win the Oaks and certainly worth watching, particularly against second-choice Midnight Bisou, shipping in from the California circuit.

Monomoy Girl, NJ Horseplayer's
2018 Kentucky Oaks selection,
wins the Ashland on April 7
I'm generally not a "chalk" player, but in my opinion it's a two-horse race, though we'll try to cash in on a $50 bankroll, hoping to roll trifecta and superfecta winnings into Saturday's Derby card.

First a little bit about on the Oaks field of 14:
  1. Sassy Sienna, 15-1: A closer/stalker type who can pass fading horses at the longer mile-and-an-eighth distance. Comes off a win in Grade 3 Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn, where the pace was blistering and she beat out another of today's runners (Wonder Gadot), basically by sitting closer to the front-runner. Ceiling is 3rd or 4th.
  2. Coach Rocks, 12-1: Won the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks on March 31 after breaking the maiden in her prior, but I'm concerned about getting squeezed by the horse just to her outside who's a burner and may leave Coach Rocks in the dust early on. Think she'll have too much ground to make up vs. better horses, but could hit the board; 3th-4th candidate.
  3. Classy Act, 15-1: The pacesetter. She'll carve out fast fractions before fading before the stretch run, similar to her two Grade 2 tries at Fair Grounds this spring. Using 4th in the superfecta.
  4. Chocolate Martini, 12-1: I know I should put much more stock in a horse coming off a Grade 2 score, but I'm having a hard time supporting a horse that a solid trainer (Bret Calhoun) ran in three straight low-level claiming races. Current trainer Tom Amoss has her in sharp form, backed by two bullet workouts in April, but to me something's fishy. Pass.
  5. Wonder Gadot, 20-1: She has hit the board in 8-of-9 tries, including three wins, though the last was back in December at Aqueduct as a two-year-old. This Mark Casse trainee has burned a lot of bettors' money, winless in her last four at odds averaging 2-to-1. With a 20-to-1 morning line I sense that many will have enough and she'll go off even higher, but she's very useful on exotic wagers. If nothing else, she'll get a garden trip as a stalker just off the primary speed horse (#3) and seems to work hard. I'm using her 3rd and 4th on the trifecta, and also 2nd for the super.
  6. Kelly's Humor, 30-1: Passing entirely, which I may regret considering top rider Irad Ortiz is aboard, but zero confidence in this one.
  7. Rayya, 12-1: She finished second in the UAE Derby to one of the Kentucky Derby wiseguy horses, Mendelssohn, but I'm inclined to pass on a horse that I think's going to take too much money. You could argue that a second-place showing for this filly vs. boys in the UAE gives her an edge vs. her own gender again, but there are too many things she's trying for the first time here -- new trainer, first-time Lasix, first-time racing in North America. Pass.
  8. Heavenhasmynikki, 50-1: Will contest pace early for about 6 furlongs then fade. Pass.
  9. Take Charge Paula, 15-1: Seen enough speed and fade from this one to know she's a sprinter and not a router. She had every opportunity to put Coach Rocks away in the Gulfstream Park Oaks and couldn't with the lead in the stretch. Will use 3rd and 4th at most.
  10. Midnight Bisou, 5-2: The aforementioned California invader will take a lot of money off well-timed closing effort in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks, but I'm using her solely underneath in my wagers, as I think she's best as a closer and will need everything to go her way in order to run down the field late and win. Can she win? Certainly. Yet California-based trainer Bill Spawr is 0-for-14 with shippers (he generally keeps to the state) and just two of those finished in the money. For my money, percentages are too low as a win proposition, but use her under.
  11. My Miss Lilly, 10-1: Local rider Joe Bravo again gets the mount after riding Lilly to a win in the Grade 2 Gazelle at Aqueduct last month. But the field in that one was middling. I had second-place finisher Sara Street as a handicapping-contest pick in that race, and she almost won at 5-to-1; but both had to work hard to put home a 20-to-1 shot that day in a six-horse field. I'm using her solely on the superfecta ticket, fourth at best.
  12. Patrona Margarita, 30-1: She completed a small trifecta ticket for me in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland last month, but finished third almost by default. I think she regressed over her last two. Pass.
  13. Eskimo Kisses, 15-1: I was impressed by the ground she gobbled up late in the Ashland, but even trying hard she was never going to catch Monomoy Girl in that race. I'm using her on the trifecta and superfecta tickets, primarily as a closer who can pick up a share late.
  14. Monomoy Girl, 2-1: For my money, she's heads above the field. I was at Keeneland and saw her Ashland performance in person; was a thing of beauty, as she secured the lead from the rail and never looked back. Looked like a paid workout. Visually, it was one of the most stunning performances I've ever seen, and I think her outside post isn't a concern. Two races back she came from seven lengths off the pace to win the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds in February, and she even looked a bit green in the stretch in her fifth lifetime start. Tactically, I think Florent Geroux just needs a clean break from the widest post and can settle third or fourth off the leader and mow 'em down in the stretch. She's also capable as a front-runner, making her super versatile. I'm using her as a single on my tickets to win the 2018 Kentucky Oaks. 

Kentucky Oaks Wagers

Consistent with the $50 bankroll I've kept in year's past, my plays:
  • $10 Win 14, *if Monomoy Girl goes off at least 2-to-1
  • $2 Trifecta: 14 with 5, 10 with 1, 2, 5, 9, 10, 13 = $20
  • $0.50 Trifecta: 5, 10 with 14 with 1, 2, 5, 9, 10, 13 = $5
  • $0.50 Trifecta: 5, 10 with 1, 2, 5, 9, 10, 13 with 14 = $5
  • $6 Oaks-Derby Double: 14 with 11 (Bolt D'Oro) = $6
  • $2 Oaks-Derby Double: 14 with 9 (Hofburg), 13 (Bravazo) = $4
  • *Superfecta (cannot bet in 10-cent denominations via 4NJBets, hence scratching out this one) : 14 with 5, 10, 13 with 1, 2, 5, 9, 10, 13 with 1-3, 5, 9, 11, 13


  1. Replies
    1. Yeah, though in keeping to the $50 limit I chickened out on the Superfecta; paid $1,400 for $1 base. If the 13 could have gotten up for 3rd the trifecta payouts would have been A LOT nicer, but I'll take it. Thanks.