Gamine, Swiss Skydiver Face Off in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks

Posted on: September 4, 2020, 09:03h. 

Last updated on: September 4, 2020, 10:00h.

A field of nine is set to run in Friday’s Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs. The sister race to the Kentucky Derby, the Oaks is a 1-1/8th mile race for 3-year-old fillies, and the top two choices come to Louisville taking different routes to get there.

Kentucky Oaks
Gamine, seen here winning the Test Stakes at Saratoga last month, has not been tested in her previous two starts. That figures to change Friday in the Kentucky Oaks. (Image: NYRA/Coglianese Photo)

Bob Baffert-trained Gamine is the morning-line favorite, with even odds. She’s won three of her four races in her career, all coming this year. Her only loss was a disqualification in an allowance race at Oaklawn in May after failing a drug test when lidocaine was found in her system.

She’s bounced back convincingly since then by winning a pair of Grade 1 races. In the Acorn Stakes at Belmont in June, she romped to an 18-3/4-length victory. She followed that with a seven-length win in the Test Stakes at Saratoga.

Not bad for a horse Baffert said he took “baby steps” with in bringing her along.

I thought Indian Blessing was brilliant. But this filly, what she’s done, is amazing,” said Baffert, comparing Gamine to the champion filly he trained more than a decade ago. “Her Acorn was….I did not expect that. And in the Test, she was probably training even better heading into that. She’s doing well. We’ll see how far she can carry that speed.”

With John Velazquez aboard, Gamine drew the fifth post for Friday’s race.

Post time is scheduled 5:45 p.m. ET, and NBC Sports Network will broadcast the race.

Second Choice Draws First Gate

Swiss Skydiver comes into the Kentucky Oaks with wins in four of her last five races, all graded stakes. The only blemish in that span was a second-place result in the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland in July. That’s where she still outran three horses who will run in Saturday’s Run for the Roses.

In her last time out, she won the 1-1/4-mile Grade 1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga by 3-1/2 lengths. The second choice on the morning-line with 8-5 odds, the Kenny McPeek-trained filly drew the inside gate.

“It’s the shortest trip around there,” McPeek said. “I’d rather have the one than the nine. It’s out of my hands. We’ll just let Tyler (Gaffalione) do his thing. He’s a great jock. We’ll probably just let her run into the first turn.”

Friday’s race will be the eighth for Swiss Skydiver this year and her 10th overall. She has five wins in those starts.

Speech Figures to Contend in Kentucky Oaks

The only other horse with single-digit morning-line odds in the Kentucky Oaks happens to be a Grade 1 winner herself.

Speech has two wins in her last three races, with the loss being a second-place finish to Swiss Skydiver in the Santa Anita Oaks three months ago. In her last race, Speech won the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes with a nice stretch drive to claim the race by three lengths.

The other win came thanks to Gamine’s disqualification at Oaklawn, which bumped her up from second, where she finished only a neck behind.

Trained by Michael McCarthy, Speech drew the fourth post and has 5-1 odds. Javier Castellano gets the ride.

“I am looking for a clean break and let Javier take it from there,” McCarthy said.

Kentucky Oaks
PP Horse Jockey M-L Odds
1 Swiss Skydiver Tyler Gaffalione 8-5
2 Tempers Rising Julien Leparoux 50-1
3 Donna Veloce Ricardo Santana Jr. 15-1
4 Speech Javier Castellano 5-1
5 Gamine John Velazquez 1-1
6 Bayerness Rafael Bejarano 50-1
7 Shedaresthedevil Florent Geroux 20-1
8 Hopeful Growth Manny Franco 30-1
9 Dream Marie Joe Talamo 50-1