The most exciting and historic race for three-year-old fillies in America is coming up on Friday, May 5, at Churchill Downs: the 2023 Kentucky Oaks! The horses compete for a $1.25 million purse, an iconic blanket of lilies, and a place in horse racing history. With such a large and talented field, it is one of the best horse racing betting opportunities of the year!
Keep reading to find out the best horses to bet in the Kentucky Oaks and the best places to get real Las Vegas odds on the Kentucky Oaks online!
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This is the official field for the 2023 Kentucky Oaks, including post positions, trainers, jockeys, and morning-line prices:
If horses scratch from the Oaks field before 9:00 a.m. Eastern on Friday, then Taxed, Julia Shining and Hooser Philly can get into the field in that order of priority. If Julia Shining draws into the field, Luis Saez will ride her, and Jose Ortiz will take over the mount on Dorth Vader.
Keep in mind that the morning line is not guaranteed if you bet from the track. That is only the best estimate of odds on track, but prices vary until post-time. Your best bet in the Kentucky Oaks is to play online since you can lock in Las Vegas odds on each contender the moment you place your bet.
These are the Vegas odds at the top online sportsbooks:
Sometimes the favorite is the goods, and so it looks with Wet Paint. She dominated the Oaklawn spur of the Kentucky Oaks trail, winning impressively over both wet tracks and dry. And, with a wet forecast on Kentucky Oaks day, that strong wet-track ability will serve her very well.
She is also bred well to stretch out to the one ⅛-mile distance of the Kentucky Oaks. And even though she usually rallies from well off the pace, she sat a bit closer in the Martha Washington, showing that she doesn’t have to come from the clouds. All in all, two-time Oaks-winning trainer Brad Cox is likely to sew up a third with Wet Paint.
Affirmative Lady’s connections regarded her well enough to run her against winners last year when she was still a maiden, and she ran a close second to Julia Shining in the sloppy, one ⅛-mile Demoiselle (G2). She has only gotten better this year, with a maiden win and a Gulfstream Park Oaks win to her credit. If she can come away well and get an outside stalking spot, she can be a factor.
Southlawn has been a new horse since turning three. A bit behind the eight-ball at age two, she has won impressively at Fair Grounds in both her starts at three, including in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), a strong source of live Oaks prospects. The one issue may be that she did not run well at Churchill in two starts last year, but she may do better now that she has grown into her better self.
Gambling Girl has only won against New York-birds, making her a poor win prospect in the Oaks. However, she keeps getting underneath shares in points races at a mile and an eighth: she piled up most of her points by doing so in three races. This suggests the distance helps this Todd Pletcher trainee, and she is versatile and consistent enough to grab another minor award.
Promiseher America has excellent long-shot appeal in the Kentucky Oaks. She surprised as a 26-1 long shot winning the Gazelle, running down the more seasoned Gambling Girl in her first start against winners. That was also her first two-turn start, which may have been the key.
The worry is whether Promiseher America will regress off of that big race in the Gazelle. But, she will be a big enough price to bet that instead, it was the real Promiseher America who showed up that day, the horse who was bred to improve with time to grow up and more distance to run. If that’s the case, she is a huge overlay.
Todd Pletcher has won the race four times (2004, 2007, 2013, 2021), including two years ago with Malathaat. He also finished second in 2022 with Nest. This year he sends out Gambling Girl with Irad Ortiz in the irons; Ortiz has never won the Oaks but has won many other major races.
Brad Cox, who won the Kentucky Oaks in both 2018 and 2020, sends out three runners in this year’s Oaks: Wet Paint, Botanical, and The Alys Look. Tom Amoss, who won the Oaks in 2019, has a horse on the also-eligible list.
Oaks-winning jockeys in the field include Javier Castellano (2016), Florent Geroux (2018, 2021), Luis Saez (2022), and John Velazquez (2004, 2021). Rafael Bejarano (2010) will ride Taxed if she draws in. Jose Ortiz won the Oaks in 2019; he will have the mount on Dorth Vader if Julia Shining draws in and takes Luis Saez.
These are the expert bets for the Kentucky Oaks:
The entire Kentucky Oaks card is full of top-class stakes races and betting opportunities. These are the horses you should key in on for your wagers in major stakes races all day long!
For 10 years, Rowan Ward has been handicapping and betting horses in Chicago. For almost as long, they has also been writing about horse racing. They are aware that the best handicapping approaches for a given race rely on a variety of variables, but they frequently discover that the proverb "the pace makes the race" can yield profitable betting opportunities. Local Chicago races, national stakes races, and two-year-old maiden races with intriguing pedigrees are some of their favorite events to handicap.