2019 Kentucky Oaks Betting Odds, Preview: Is Bellafina an Untouchable Favorite?

2019 Kentucky Oaks Betting Odds, Preview: Is Bellafina an Untouchable Favorite? article feature image
Credit:

Jamie Rhodes, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Florent Geroux

  • The 2019 Kentucky Oaks takes place on Friday, May 3 just after 6 p.m. ET from Churchill Downs.
  • No. 4 Bellafina (2-1) is the betting favorite in the morning-line odds, but Adam Staple breaks down whether she is overrated and provides other horses with value.

The Kentucky Oaks is like the co-main event of Kentucky Derby Weekend. The Oaks is a Grade I stakes race for 3-year-old Thoroughbred fillies held annually at Churchill Downs.

This race tends to feature one or two top-class fillies at fairly low odds and then a few horses in a second tier that can offer a lot of value. Still, it’s hard to look past the favorites because they have been performing at a high level over the past few months.

The key thing for bettors to take into consideration is where these fillies prepped for this race. That handicapping angle applies to the boys in the Kentucky Derby as well, but it is even more important for the fillies.

Kentucky Oaks 2019 Betting Odds, Field

  • No. 1 Out for a Spin (15-1)
  • No. 2 Chocolate Kisses (20-1)
  • No. 3 Lady Apple (20-1)
  • No. 4 Bellafina (2-1)
  • No. 5 Flor de La Mar (20-1)
  • No. 6 Positive Spirit (30-1)
  • No. 7 Jaywalk (8-1)
  • No. 8 Motion Emotion (15-1)
  • No. 9 Liora (20-1)
  • No. 10 Champagne Anyone (6-1)
  • No. 11 Jeltrin (15-1)
  • No. 12 Street Band (15-1)
  • No. 13 Serengeti Empress (8-1)
  • No. 14 Restless Rider (6-1)

This year’s big favorite will be No. 4 Bellafina (2-1), who has been nothing short of fantastic in her recent races on the West Coast. She won the Grade II Las Virgenes and the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks.

Clearly she has shown to be the best filly out West, but in her one try shipping East she was soundly beaten, as the 2-1 favorite, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs.

Also, Bellafina hasn’t really defeated the cream of the crop in any of her races. The only filly who also made this trip for the Oaks is No. 5 Flor de La Mar (20-1), who ran a distant second to Bellafina last time out.

Two of Bellafina’s last three races featured five horses and the other only had four entrants. In the Oaks she will face 13 other horses. The last time Bellafina faced a large field she lost as a 2-year-old at Churchill Downs.

Bellafina’s running style suggests she’d prefer to stay on, or at least near, the lead and dictate the pace. She’s not going to be able to pull that off in this race since No. 1 Out for a Spin (15-1), No. 3 Lady Apple (20-1), No. 6 Positive Spirit (30-1), No. 7 Jaywalk (8-1), No. 8 Motion Emotion (15-1), No. 9 Liora (20-1) and No. 13 Serengeti Express (8-1) all will want a piece of what will likely be a hotly-contested pace.

With that many fillies fighting for the lead or wanting to stay close, it’s going to be hard for Bellafina to get this race on her terms. It will take a monumental effort from her to pull this race out and I believe it will be a lost cause for her by the time they hit backstretch.

If she does manage to win this race it will be a massive accomplishment and she will establish herself as the filly to watch for the foreseeable future. But she can do all that without my money.

With so many horses vying for the early lead, I’ll be looking for someone who can sit comfortably behind a heated pace and make a move as everyone falls by the wayside.

For me, that filly is No. 14 Restless Rider (6-1). She’s currently listed at 6-1 but I get the feeling she will be the bandwagon horse that many will turn to if they don’t like the favorite, so I expect her odds to shorten to 7-2 or so.

What makes her so appealing is that she can sit behind and make her push in the stretch. She’s finished first or second in seven of her starts, including four Grade I races. She was the second-favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, finishing a strong second, and only made her 3-year-old debut last month with another solid second, losing by a neck in a Grade I race at Keeneland. She may have needed that race as a freshener and also has the advantage of training over this track.

I’m also interested in No. 7 Jaywalk at 8-1. While she’s hardly an unknown factor here and won’t light up the board if she wins, she should still be a square price.

The public is off her after two unimpressive tries as a 3-year-old, but she won four in a row as a 2-year-old — including a five-length win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies over this same track. But in 2019 she ran a massive clunker as the 1-5 favorite at Gulfstream in a Grade II race and then didn’t redeem herself at Keeneland last month as an even-money favorite.

The fact that her connections are still pushing forward could mean two things: 1. They are being greedy OR 2. They believe that the top-quality filly from last year is still there.

Jaywalk will likely need to be on the lead to win the race, but there was a time she was considered one of the best fillies in the country. If that horse shows up again, she’s capable of winning this race at the best price you’ll ever get on her.

Kentucky Oaks-Kentucky Derby Double

One bet that I think shouldn’t be overlooked is the Kentucky Oaks-Kentucky Derby double. This year’s Derby features a wide-open field with plenty of live horses, so it is likely going to be a tough race to handicap. That being said, it’s a great opportunity for value seekers and adding a leg for the Oaks will expand that value.

I’m playing No. 14 Restless Rider and No. 8 Jaywalk from the Oaks with No. 2 Tax, No. 5 Improbable, No. 7 Maximum Security, No. 8 Tacitus and No. 17 Roadster from the Derby.

Note: This is a $20 wager since there are five combinations played with both #8 and #14 at $2 each.

Kentucky Oaks, Turf Classic, Kentucky Derby Pick-3

Another fun combo bet that could provide some serious payouts is the Pick-3 with the Oaks on Friday along with the Turf Classic and the Derby on Saturday.

For the Turf Classic expect the grass to be a little soft with rain in the forecast. That should give some of the European horses an advantage.

The three horses I like in the Classic are all Chad Brown runners. No. 2 Raging Bull, No. 10 Ticonderoga and No. 12 Bricks and Mortar. All three horses have shown an ability to run well on soft turf and seem to be right on top of their game.

I expect No. 12 Bricks and Mortar to be the deserved favorite. Since returning from a 14-month layoff, he’s been nothing short of perfect — winning three stars in impressive fashion. I think the only horses who can beat him are his aforementioned barn-mates. So if you’re looking for a live Pick 3 for $1 look at the following combinations:

(Oaks) 8-14, (Turf Classic) 2-10-12, (Derby) 2-5-7-8-17.

There are 30 combinations here so for a $1 wager the cost will be $30. Good Luck!