11.12pm Churchill Downs, tips for Friday’s Grade One contest A full field of fourteen are set to go to war here with the winer invariably crowned three-year-old filly of the year lately, and perhaps the most prestigious fillies contest of the season. According to the lcoals it’s a two horse race but we shall see, with close to three-quarters on a million in prize money on offer here. Read on for our free betting tips, predictions and analysis.
As tough to call as you would expect for a race of this prestige but MIDNIGHT BISSOU has looked straight out of the top drawer recently and she can get the better of Monomoy Girl, with Coach Rocks taken as the bigger priced option for the minor places.
1 SASSY SIENNA – The winner of the Fantasy Stakes last time out for trainer Brad Cox, it seems fair to say she is not the stable first string as they are also responsible for likely favourite Monomoy Girl as well as Kelly’s Humor. If she gets in to a battle near the front she will not be giving in close home but unless the rans come to slow them all down she doesn’t appear to have the turn of foot expected to win a race of this magnitude.
2 COACH ROCKS – A daughter of Oxbow out of an El Prado mare, she took a while to get the hang of what is required from her on a racecourse but put the rest of the field to bed in double quick time in the Gulfstream Park Oaks in March and looks to be improving all the time. Dale Romans likes to improve them slowly if that suits the horse, and if there is a surprise contender here she may well be the one at a decent price.
3 CLASSY ACT – One of a few potential front runners here who can make sure the pace is a true one at the very least, she may not quite have the gears to lay-up with the likes of Monomoy Girl here (if she is ridden that way, of course). Fourth to Chocolate Martini last time out she has a bit to find on that form but she could have more to offer and is relatively lightly raced.
4 CHOCOLATE MARTINI – Three wins from four starts this season make the daughter of Broken Vow hard to knock, but she only saw off Eskimo Kisses by a head last time out with the runner-up considered a little unlucky in running. Bought out of a Claimer for $25,000 she is clearly the bargain of the race and would sure have a film made about her should she win but that looks unlikely and she has a few pounds to find to get involved in the finish here.
5 WONDER GADOT – Canadian two-year-old filly Champion last season and some decent placed form to her name but she keeps coming up a fraction short at the highest level and seems likely to find one or two that bit too good for her here as well. Only beaten a nose by Sassy Sienna last time out in the Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park last time out the pair of them went to war that day, and although she has had three weeks to recover, there is a fear that race may have left its mark.
6 KELLY’S HUMOR – Without a recent win and second to gas Station Sushi last time out at Keeneland over seven furlongs. She likes to come from off the pace late and fast if at all possible but whether she can do that over this extended trip seems a huge ask and others appeal far more in this race, including both the other Brad Cox trained runners.
7 RAYYA – Winner of the UAE Oaks at Meydan and has her first run away from Dubai today as well as her first race for the legendary Bob Baffert having left Doug Watson. Stepped up to mix it with the colts last time, out she was a long way second to Kentucky Derby hope Mendelssohn in the UAE Derby but clear of the rest of the field in second and if she can repeat that over here then she has to be worthy of some very serious consideration.
8 HEAVENHASMYNIKKI – Her breeding suggests she will be far better at sprint trip and there is a huge question mark over her ability to get home over this trip, especially with a fast early pace eagerly anticipated. A big price is expected for Anthony Quartarolo’s filly and rightly so but Calvin Borel is no mug in the saddle and will do his best to nurse her home.
9 TAKE CHARGE PAULA – Another possible front runner here, and with stamina questions, if they allow her to roll on up or near the pace, she won’t be pressing too hard in an attempt to conserve her stamina for the stretch. Overpriced without a doubt if she does get the run of the race and will be sniffing at the places if her stamina holds out.
10 MIDNIGHT BISOU – Heavily favoured by plenty of the press state-side, the Santa Anita Oaks winner has an electric turn of foot and can come from a long way back if necessary which may well work well in this field with the fast early pace expected. She has won all three starts this season and the whip wasn’t even needed last time out to score by three and a half lengths, and if she gets a clear run, she will take some stopping here.
11 MY MISS LILLY – The bookmakers seem to have failed to notice that she is very much on an upward curve and has plenty of room to improve further after just the five starts. Last time out she won the Gazelle Stakes finishing very fast at Aqueduct over a mile plus and with her progressive profile she may well get involved in the finish this afternoon for trainer Mark Hennig and jockey Joe Bravo who are both looking for their first win in this contest.
12 PATRONA MARGARITA – Whatever way you look at it, Bret Calhoun’s filly comes up short in this contest both on the clock and on recent form. She did surprise them all to take the Pocahontas Stakes here last September at odds of 23.8/1 but was last seen finishing third to Monomoy Girl and Eskimo kisses, thirteen lengths adrift of the winner and seven and a half-length off the runner up leaving her with a mountain to climb today.
13 ESKIMO KISSES – An interesting alternative for each way punters who found herself too far behind last time out when over five lengths adrift of Monomoy Girl after the winner had a very soft lead. She came from a long way back that day with the winner not stopping but if she can keep better tabs earlier in this contest she won’t be that far away at the finish.
14 MONOMOY GIRL – Very classy filly who looks tactically adaptable having made all to win the Ashland Stakes by an easy five and a quarter lengths in early April having won from off the pace at Fairgrounds on her only other start this season. Clearly a very major player though there is a nagging doubt over her stamina if she is pressed for an early lead and she may need to be ridden differently again today.