Kentucky Oaks 2023 Report: Early Preview

Defining Purpose wins Ashland Stakes (Keeneland photo)

By Jarrod Horak

The 2023 Kentucky Oaks is just around the corner and the race is shaping up as a wide open betting affair. Wet Paint is the likely favorite after late running victories in the Martha Washington, Honeybee, and Fantasy Stakes. All of those races were at Oaklawn Park, and she is hoping for pace help and a clean trip in the Oaks. The Brad Cox runner will be joined in the starting gate by stablemates Botanical and The Alys Look, and they all have different running styles. Wet Paint is a closer, Botanical likes to get involved early, and The Alys Look is a stalker. 

Oaks contender Affirmative Lady won both starts at Gulfstream Park since adding blinkers for Graham Motion. The patient filly likes to stalk and pounce, and she has been preparing for her Oaks assignment at Keeneland. She is on the upswing and is bred to run all day. 

Defining Purpose was no match for Wet Paint at Oaklawn, but really put it all together in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland last time. She has worked twice at Churchill since that race including a half-mile bullet on April 29. She might be getting good at the right time for Ken McPeek, but she has yet to run two alike. 

Pretty Mischievous is 4-for-6 overall and has stuck twice under the Twin Spires. Her tactical speed should lead to a good trip but I am not sure about the 1/18 miles for her. 

Southlawn cruised in her last two dirt routes in Louisiana including a sharp score in the FG Oaks. She had a big workout at Churchill on April 20. She drilled a five panel bullet in 58.80 that day and could not be doing any better. 

Mimi Kakushi is the mystery horse. She won her last three starts at Meydan in Dubai, and the distance should not be an issue after a nice victory at 1 3/16 miles on Feb. 17.

Wonder Wheel earned the 2-year-old title after wins in the Grade 1 Alcibiades and BC Juvenile Fillies last fall. She utilized her speed from the inside post in the former race and rallied up the rail in the latter event. She could not catch a longshot winner in her seasonal bow in the Suncoast, and finished up the track when last seen in the Ashland. The early developing filly has not advanced this year. 

Gazelle winner Promiseher America, And Tell Me Nolies, Dorth Vader, Gambling Girl, and Flying Connection also qualified for the Oaks. Taxed is the first alternate should there be a defection. 

Julia Shining is the second alternate and needs plenty of luck to make it into the Oaks field. Todd Pletcher’s well-bred filly is training forwardly and figures to relish the 1/18 miles distance. There is a good chance that she won’t make the Oaks field, and I expect her to make an impact in this division later this summer and fall.  

Top 17 Kentucky Oaks Points Leaders (through 4-30-23)

170 Points: Wet Paint

110 Points: Affirmative Lady 

107 Points: Defining Purpose

103 Points: Pretty Mischievous

100 Points: Southlawn

100 Points: Promiseher America

70 Points: And Tell Me Nolies

70 Points: Botanical

70 Points: Dorth Vader 

61 Points: Gambling Girl

54 Points: The Alys Look

50 Points: Flying Connection

50 Points: Mimi Kakushi

48 Points: Wonder Wheel (14th place)


48 Points: Taxed

46 Points: Julia Shining

45 Points: Hoosier Philly

Jarrod Horak’s Fabulous Five Kentucky Oaks 2023 Contenders (4-30-23)   

#1 – SOUTHLAWN – FG Oaks winner is developing rapidly.   

Pioneerof the Nile – Mo d’Amour, by Uncle Mo – Trainer: Norm Casse  

CD Workout: 4f in 48.80 (22/66) on April 27

CD Workout: 5f bullet in 58.80 (1/20) on April 20

CD Workout: 4f in 47.60 (4/34) on April 13

#2 – BOTANICAL – Early-pressing all-weather specialist is razor sharp. 

Medaglia d’Oro – Daisy, by Blame – Trainer: Brad Cox

CD Workout: 5f in 1:00.60 (4/24) on April 27

CD Workout: 5f in 1:00.20 (5/20) on April 20

CD Workout: 4f in 48.20 (12/38) on April 14

CD Workout: 4f in 49.20 (34/53) on April 7

#3 – PRETTY MISCHIEVOUS – Consistent stakes winner owns 2 wins at CD.  

Into Mischief – Pretty City Dancer, by Tapit – Trainer: Brendan Walsh

CD Workout: 4f in 47.80 (7/66) on April 27

CD Workout: 5f breeze in 1:00.40 (10/33) on April 21

CD Workout: 5f in 1:02 (34/42) on April 14

#4 – WET PAINT – Strong late bids in last three stakes wins at OP. 

Blame – Sky Painter, by Street Cry – Trainer: Brad Cox 

CD Workout: 5f in 1:01 (10/24) on April 27

CD Workout: 5f in 1:00.20 (5/20) on April 20

CD Workout: 4f in 48 (8/38) on April 14

#5 – AFFIRMATIVE LADY – GP Oaks winner is progressing nicely. 

Arrogate – Stiffed, by Stephen Got Even – Trainer: Graham Motion

KEE Workout: 5f in 1:01.40 (4/13) on April 27

KEE Workout: 5f in 1:01 (7/25) on April 21 

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