Many expected the field for this year's Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) to be be among the most accomplished in years, and with six grade I winners filling the entry box for the 1 1/8-mile contest Tuesday morning, that opinion may have been confirmed.
Among the star-studded cast set for this year's $500,000 Oaks are last year's juvenile filly champion Halfbridled, Ashland Stakes (gr. I) winner Madcap Escapade, Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) winner Silent Sighs, Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I) winner A.P. Adventure, and Ashado and Hollywood Story, both of who took down grade I races as 2-year-olds.
Bruce Lunsford's Madcap Escapade enters as the lone undefeated filly in the race and should vie for favoritism Friday. The daughter of Hennessy was perfect in three starts at Gulfstream Park this winter before shipping to Keeneland and scoring a 1 1/2-length victory over Ashado in the 1 1/16-mile Ashland in her first two-turn race. She will break from post six under jockey Jerry Bailey for trainer Frank Brothers.
Halfbridled was also undefeated in her first four starts, all as a juvenile, including a win in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) to seal championship honors for her generation. In her sophomore bow, Halfbridled finished second in the Santa Anita Oaks to Silent Sighs. She was scheduled to run in the Ashland for trainer Richard Mandella but tied up the morning before the race. Instead, she went in the seven-furlong Stonerside Beaumont Stakes (gr. II) a week later at Keeneland and finished second.
Last year's winner, Bird Town, also finished second in the Stonerside Beaumont in her final Oaks prep.
Halfbridled, a daughter of the late Unbridled owned by Wertheimer Farm, will break from post four under Alex Solis.
Ashado should be dangerous in the Oaks after a fast-closing second to Madcap Escapade in the Ashland at Keeneland. The daughter of Saint Ballado won the 1 1/8-mile Demoiselle Stakes (gr. II) as a juvenile and won the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) in her only other start this year. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Ashado will break from the rail under John Velazquez.
California-bred invader Silent Sighs won the restricted Ocala Stud Oaks at Gulfstream Park on the Sunshine Millions program in her start prior to beating Halfbridled in the Santa Anita Oaks. The daughter of Benchmark is a homebred for Martin and Pam Wygod and is trained by Julio Canani.
A.P Adventure won the Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr. III) and Las Virgenes prior to finishing third in the Santa Anita Oaks.
Others entered include House of Fortune and Island Sand, the one-two finishers in the Fantasy Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park last time out; Victory U.S.A, who beat Halfbridled in the Stonerside Beaumont in her previous start for trainer Bob Baffert; and Hollywood Story, who closed out her juvenile campaign winning the Hollywood Starlet Stakes (gr. I). In two starts this year she finished second in the Las Virgenes and fourth in the Santa Anita Oaks.
The field for the $500,000 Kentucky Oaks in post position order. All carry 121 pounds:
1. Ashado, John Velazquez, 4-1
2. Hollywood Story, Victor Espinoza, 20-1
3. Island Sand, Terry Thompson, 30-1
4. Halfbridled, Alex Solis, 9-2
5. House of Fortune, Shane Sellers, 8-1
6. Madcap Escapade, Jerry Bailey, 3-1
7. Silent Sighs, David Flores, 6-1
8. Victory U.S.A, Pat Day, 8-1
9. A. P. Adventure, Mike Smith, 8-1
10. Last Song, Edgar Prado, 20-1
11. Class Above, Corey Nakatani, 20-1
12. Stellar Jayne, Robby Albarado, 30-1