By Churchill Press Staff — Robert Lund Petersen’s brilliant two-time Grade I winner Gamine and Peter Callahan’s Swiss Skydiver, winner of the Alabama (GI) in her most recent start, headline a field of nine 3-year-old fillies entered Monday for Friday’s 146th running of the $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) at Churchill Downs.
The Oaks, contested at 1 1/8 miles on the main track, will go as the 12th race on Friday’s 13-race program that begins at 11 a.m. (all times Eastern) with the Oaks going at 5:45 p.m. NBCSN will carry the Oaks as part of its 3-6 p.m. telecast.
Gamine, the even-money morning line favorite, comes into the Oaks off blowout victories in the Acorn (GI) by 18 ¾ lengths going a mile and the Test (GI) going seven furlongs. John Velazquez, who won the 2004 Oaks on Ashado, has been aboard for those two victories and has the call again Friday.
Three-times Oaks-winning trainer Bob Baffert conditions Gamine. Baffert’s Oaks winners are Abel Tasman (2017), Plum Pretty (2011) and Silverbulletday (1999).
Gamine will break from post position five.
Swiss Skydiver (8-5 on the morning line) has won her past four starts against fillies with a runner-up finish in the Blue Grass Stakes (GII) against the boys the lone blemish in the past six months.
Trained by Kenny McPeek, Swiss Skydiver notched her first Grade I victory in her most recent start in the Alabama at Saratoga. Tyler Gaffalione, who was aboard for the Alabama victory, has the call Friday and will break from post position one.
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Madaket Stables and Heider Family Stables’ Speech (5-1 on the morning line) returns to Kentucky from her Southern California base following a last out victory in the Ashland (GI) at Keeneland.
Trained by Michael McCarthy, Speech finished second to Swiss Skydiver in the Santa Anita Oaks (GII) and prior to that finished a neck behind Gamine in a two-turn allowance race at Oaklawn Park.
Javier Castellano, who won the 2016 Oaks on Cathryn Sophia, has the mount on Speech and will break from post position four.
The trainer-jockey combination of Brad Cox and Florent Geroux, who teamed to win the 2018 Oaks with Monomoy Girl, are aiming for a second score in the Oaks with Shedaresthedevil.
Owned by Flurry Racing Stables, Qatar Racing Limited and Big Aut Farms, Shedaresthedevil exits a 5-length blowout victory in the Indiana Oaks (GIII). Shedaresthedevil (20-1 on the morning line) will break from post position seven.
Also expected to draw support is Kaleem Shah, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s Donna Veloce.
Trained by Simon Callaghan, Donna Veloce enters the Oaks off a six-month layoff. Winner of the Santa Ysabel in her most recent start, Donna Veloce has compiled a 4-2-2-0 record with one of those runner-up finishes coming in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI).
Listed at 15-1 on the morning line, Donna Veloce will be ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr. and break from post position three.
The field for the Longines Kentucky Oaks with riders and morning line odds from the rail out, is: Swiss Skydiver (Gaffalione, 8-5), Tempers Rising (Julien Leparoux, 50-1), Donna Veloce (Santana Jr., 15-1), Speech (Castellano, 5-1), Gamine (Velazquez, 1-1), Bayerness (Rafael Bejarano, 50-1), Shedaresthedevil (Geroux, 20-1), Hopeful Growth (Manny Franco, 30-1) and Dream Marie (Joe Talamo, 50-1). All starters will carry 121 pounds.