We are back in the saddle and looking forward to this weekend where Santa Anita will host the G1 American Oaks. This 1-1/4 mile turf affair presents us with a scratched down field of eight 3yr old fillies that will be competing for their share of the $300,000 purse.
Routes over the Santa Anita turf course usually favor closers, with the last 4 winners of such races coming from an average of 4.5 lengths behind the front runners at the 1st call. With that being said, it is no surprise that none of our 8 participants this week look like they want any part of the front end.
The 2 fillies who have shown the most early speed (but not necessarily an affinity for the lead) are 5/2 morning line favorite Californiagoldrush, and 4/1 morning line Almandine. Californiagoldrush, with Flavien Prat aboard, will be breaking from the outside 8 post, which may give her some advantage as 2 of the last 4 turf routes were won from outside posts. I suspect that Prat will not want the lead and will have wait to see if anyone inside of him goes for the front, leaving him ample opportunity to settle in perfectly.
If nobody leaves in front of Californiagoldrush, I would then expect Prat to grudgingly go forward and set as slow of a pace as possible. This Neil Drysdale trainee has been off since September so my biggest question would be fitness as she attempts 1-1/4 miles for the first time after a 3 month layoff.
2nd choice in the morning line is the #2, Paved, with Drayden Van Dyke in the irons. Paved turned in some spectacular speed figures in January and February of 2018, but she has not been able to replicate them following a brief hiatus. She most recently finished 12th in the BC Filly and Mare Turf.
The #4, Almandine, presents a unique past. She is coming off of a win in the $75,000 Lady of Shamrock where she sat in a perfect pocket stalking spot behind a speed duel that included the even money favorite. She catapulted out of that pocket in the stretch for an easy victory. The odd part is that this was on December 26th, a mere 3 days before this week’s G1. Almandine has run with 7 days between races, finishing 3rd by 3/4ths of a length back in the U.K. But a 3 day rest before stretching out to 1-1/4 in a G1 seems like a pretty tall order. I would not be surprised if she is a scratch before post time.
From the rail we have the #2, Colonia, with Joe Bravo at the reigns. Coming off of a win in the G3 Valley View at Keeneland where Joe Bravo navigated a masterful ground saving trip and was able to get her nose up at the wire, I cannot expect the same glorious trip this week.
The horse I landed on is the 4/1 morning line Chad Brown trainee Competitionofideas. Her last was a 3rd place finish in Aqueduct’s Winter Memories Stakes. She was so far back at the half mile point of this 1 mile race that I almost gave up on her. But this lightly raced filly looks like she is begging for more distance as she has dropped to last in both of her most recent efforts before unleashing a furious rally in the stretch. Her run in the Winter Memories was originally carded for the turf but was switched to the dirt, which gave me a reason to overlook the pedestrian Brisnet speed figures.
Even without the best pace setup for this filly, I like Competitionofideas to do her best running late and sweep by the field. I will take Competitionofideas for the win.