Kentucky Oaks 2023 Report: Top Pick

Churchill Downs Photo by Jarrod Horak

By Jarrod Horak

The Kentucky Oaks 2023 field is set and there have been no changes since post positions were drawn earlier this week. Wet Paint is the deserving morning line favorite. She won the Martha Washington, Honeybee, and Fantasy Stakes from off the pace in her last three starts at Oaklawn. She is fine if the track is fast or wet, and she could easily make it four straight wins under Flavien Prat if she gets enough pace help. 

Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks – Churchill Downs Race 11 – Friday, May 5, 2023

1 – Mimi Kakushi (20-1)

2 – The Alys Look (15-1)

3 – Gambling Girl (15-1)

4 – Southlawn (8-1)

5 – Wonder Wheel (12-1)

6 – Botanical (4-1)

7 – Wet Paint (5-2)

8 – Promiseher America (30-1)

9 – And Tell Me Nolies (15-1)

10 – Flying Connection (15-1)

11 – Defining Purpose (12-1)

12 – Dorth Vader (20-1)

13 – Affirmative Lady (10-1)

14 – Pretty Mischievous (10-1)

15 – Taxed (AE) (20-1)

16 – Julia Shining (AE) (15-1)

17 – Hoosier Filly (AE) (30-1)

There are many ways to go if you are wagering on the Oaks this year. I already mentioned Wet Paint and her many positive attributes. Her trainer Brad Cox has two other entrants in here beginning with The Alys Look. The Fair Grounds shipper made nice progress in Louisiana this winter and needs to take another step forward after a show finish in the FG Oaks. His other entrant catches the eye and her name is Botanical. She cruised to big wins in her last four starts on the all-weather surface at Turfway Park. She is training like she will handle the main track at Churchill Downs, and her running style versatility should serve her well. 

Mimi Kakushi will break from the rail. She qualified for the Kentucky Oaks after winning the UAE Oaks in Dubai. Let’s see if she can maintain top form in North America. 

Gambling Girl is an improving New York-bred for Todd Pletcher. She picked up minor awards in multiple Oaks points races including a runner-up finish in the Gazelle. She can be used in the exotics. 

Southlawn cruised in her last two starts at Fair Grounds and her form is definitely going the right way. The FG Oaks is typically a strong prep for this race, and she can make some noise in the lane. 

Wonder Wheel was excellent last year and earned the 2-year-old title after wins in the Alcibiades and BC Juvenile Fillies, both Grade 1 route races at Keeneland. She started her career last June and has the look of an early developing juvenile, and that definitely seems like the case after her disappointing effort in the Ashland in her final Oaks prep. 

Promiseher America must prove that her Gazelle update was no fluke. She should impact the pace but is facing the deepest field she has ever seen. 

And Tell Me Nolies won two graded stakes in California last year. She returned with back-to-back runner-up finishes behind undefeated filly Faiza in the Santa Ysabel and SA Oaks. Peter Miller’s Arrogate filly might be ready to run her best race in her third start of the year. 

Flying Connection is a fleet filly from New Mexico. The daughter of Nyquist might try to take the early lead in the Oaks, but I am not sure she can keep going in such a deep renewal of this event. 

Defining Purpose upset the Ashland and is training like she will run another quality race. The main issue with her is she has yet to run two alike. She might regress. 

Dorth Vader can impact the pace but she seems best around one turn. Affirmative Lady won the GP Oaks last time but that has been a negative Kentucky Oaks prep for the last several years. Pretty Mischievous is stuck out in post 14. She has struck twice at Churchill and has never finished out of the trifecta. 

Taxed, Julia Shining, and Hoosier Philly are the three also-eligibles. The only one I am interested in from that group is Julia Shining. Todd Pletcher’s well-bred filly is training lights out and should relish the 1 1/8 miles trip, but she is unlikely to draw in. 

Now that we have gone through all of the entrants, it is top pick time. Wet Paint is obviously the one to beat, but I will go with her stablemate Botanical on top. The all-weather specialist is bred to handle dirt and owns some of the best recent Today’s Racing Digest Final Ratings. Her rider Chris Landeros is 4-for-4 with her and she can set the pace, press, stalk, or close. I love her versatility and we should get every bit of her 4-1 morning line price. 

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