Malathaat and her undefeated record earned 5/2 morning-line favorite status for Friday’s 147th Kentucky Oaks at Monday morning’s post-position draw and morning-line announcement.
The 1 1/8-mile Oaks anchors Churchill Downs’ 13-race, six-stakes Friday card. The 14-filly field of 3-year-olds runs for a $767,250 first-prize check out of the $1.25 million purse.
Todd Pletcher will be sending Malathaat out from post 10 in search of his fourth Oaks victory. Malathaat comes in looking for her fifth consecutive victory and second inside the Commonwealth of Kentucky in a month. She captured the Grade 1 Ashland Oaks at Keeneland on April 3. That doubled as her 2021 debut.
“I’m basically fine with the draw,” Pletcher told Churchill Downs. “I probably would have preferred to be a bit more toward the middle, but if it was a case of drawing inside or outside, I’ll take the outside. It will work out fine.”
Oaks draw gives Geroux, Travel Column, their wish
With exercise rider Amelia Green aboard, the Curlin filly put in gate work and a 1 3/8-mile gallop on Monday morning. John Velazquez, who won the 2004 Oaks for Pletcher with Ashado, gets Friday’s assignment.
Travel Column and Search Results share second-favorite status at 3/1. Travel Column drew post 6, which pleased rider Florent Geroux. Earlier, he told Churchill Downs he hoped for a draw toward the middle with speed to his inside. As if on cue, the draw gods obliged on the first part, although much of the race’s speed – with the exception of Pass the Champagne – is outside.
Regardless, this shouldn’t trouble Geroux. He and Travel Column trainer Brad Cox own three of the last four Oaks titles. They won with 17/1 Shedaresthedevil last year and in 2018 with Monomoy Girl. The pair are coming in off of an easy victory over rival Clairiere in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks in March.
Search Results found recent success
Search Results drew post 12. She galloped 1 3/8 miles on Monday morning for trainer Chad Brown. They’re seeking their fourth victory in as many races, coming in off a win in the Grade 3 Gazelle Stakes at Aqueduct earlier this month. Brown gave the reins to the stellar Irad Ortiz Jr., who rode Search Results for two of her three victories.
Behind those three on the toteboard is Clairiere (5/1), Travel Column’s rival. The Oaks pits the two against each other for the fourth time. Travel Column owns a 2-1 edge, courtesy of that Fair Grounds Oaks victory. Clairiere’s lone victory in the series came a month earlier in the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds. She starts from Post 3 with Joe Talamo aboard.
The other intriguing filly is Crazy Beautiful (15/1). Kenny McPeek’s Gulfstream Oaks winner drew post 4 after taking a Monday morning trot with McPeek’s Derby contender, King Fury.
“She’s coming into this thing like a beast,” McPeek told Churchill Downs. “I’ve been watching some of the others out there and I feel pretty confident that we’ll get a piece of it.”
Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks/Churchill Downs
Post Positions and Morning Line (Jockey/Trainer)
- Pauline’s Pearl, 20/1 (Ricardo Santana Jr/Steve Asmussen)
- Maracuja, 20/1 (Kendrick Carmouche/Rob Atras)
- Clairiere, 5/1 (Joe Talamo/Steve Asmussen)
- Crazy Beautiful, 15/1 (Jose Ortiz/Kenny McPeek)
- Pass the Champagne, 15/1 (Joel Rosario/George Weaver)
- Travel Column, 3/1 (Florent Geroux/Brad Cox)
- Ava’s Grace, 50/1 (David Cohen/Robertino Diodoro)
- Moraz, 30/1 (Flavien Prat/Mike McCarthy)
- Coach, 9/5 (Luis Saez/Brad Cox)
- Malathaat, 5/2 (John Velazquez/Todd Pletcher)
- Will’s Secret, 30/1 (Jon Court/Dallas Stewart)
- Search Results, 3/1 (Irad Ortiz Jr./Chad Brown)
- Competitive Speed, 50/1 (Chris Landeros/Javier Gonzalez)
- Millefeuille, 20/1 (Tyler Gaffalione/Bill Mott)
McPeek’s eagerness to “get a piece of it” is understandable. He’s been second in this race three times without a score, most recently last year with Swiss Skydiver. Toward that end, he put Jose Ortiz in the irons. Ortiz rode Serengeti Empress to the 2019 Oaks winner’s circle.
“I’ve been second three times and fourth three times,” McPeek said. “We’ve run well, and if you keep doing that, eventually you’re going to get it.”