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Horse Racing expert Andrew Champagne previews the card at Churchill Downs and provides his picks for the Kentucky Oaks

2021 Kentucky Oaks Predictions: Free Churchill Downs Picks

Friday is Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs, and the day is far bigger than just the biggest race of the year for 3-year-old fillies. The undercard features several high-profile stakes races, and the Oaks anchors an all-stakes Pick Four you won’t want to miss.

I’ll be attacking it with a $32 ticket that singles one favorite, but excludes several other horses that figure to take money. Here’s how I’ve constructed it and formed my free Churchill Downs picks.  

Churchill Downs Picks - All Stakes Pick Four Predictions

RACE #8: We’ll know right away if we’ve got a chance to make some money. This is the Grade 1 La Troienne for older fillies and mares, and on the undercard of the 2021 Kentucky Oaks, I’m singling the 2020 Kentucky Oaks heroine.

#2 SHEDARESTHEDEVIL came back running when she edged Letruska in the Grade 2 Azeri last month. That one, of course, came back to take the Grade 1 Apple Blossom, where she re-rallied to defeat Monomoy Girl. This isn’t a field light on quality, for sure, but Shedaresthedevil has abundant tactical speed and is 3-for-3 under the Twin Spires. I’m happy singling her here, and if another runner jumps up form-wise and beats her, I’ll live with that.

RACE #9: The Grade 2 Eight Belles may be seen as a step down from the Oaks, but this year’s renewal is far closer in quality to that race than one might think. I’ll finish off this ticket by going four-deep in the last three legs, and in this one, I’m excluding the likely favorite.

That’s #10 DAYOUTOFTHEOFFICE, whose connections picked a very tough spot for her 2021 debut. She won three of four starts as a 2-year-old and was second in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, and perhaps she’s good enough to beat this group. However, there’s a lot of other early speed signed on and she’ll need to work hard from the first jump. That’s a tough ask given it’s her first race since November, and I’ll try to beat her.

My top selection is #6 SLUMBER PARTY, who crushed an overmatched group in her debut and ran a strong second in the Grade 3 Beaumont. She’s shown some versatility and should be able to rally from off of a very fast pace. I’ll also use fellow “logicals” #3 SOUPER SENSATIONAL and #9 LI’L TOOTSIE, and #2 CANTATA is a big price that I feel has a shot if she runs to the potential she hinted at in her 2-year-old season.

RACE #10: We’ll go to the turf for the Twin Spires Turf Sprint, which may be the best betting race of the sequence. Even if you like a favorite, you’ll likely get a very bettable price.

#3 FIYA is my pick to be the public choice. He reeled off five impressive wins last season after being switched to the grass, and this race is his 2021 unveiling. He makes some sense, but there’s other early speed in this race and he has every right to need one, so I can’t simply use him and move on.

#8 FAST BOAT, #9 DIAMOND OOPS, and #10 SOMBEYAY could all benefit from the likely race shape. They’re all closers, and they’ve all capitalized on similar situations in similar-level races. I’ll use them all, and if Fiya can’t hold them off, I’ll have other ways to move on.

Kentucky Oaks Picks

RACE #11: We’ll finish with the main event, the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks. 14 3-year-old fillies will line up to go a mile and an eighth, and much like Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, it features an undefeated favorite.

That’s #10 MALATHAAT, who came flying late to take the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland. That was her first effort since December, but she showed no signs of rust and has since worked well at Churchill Downs. She’s bred to be any kind, and any improvement off of her most recent triumph will make her tough.

#3 CLAIRIERE and #6 TRAVEL COLUMN ship in from Louisiana, and both would make sense. In addition to those two, I’ll also throw in #4 CRAZY BEAUTIFUL at a price. Her record looks far better if you draw a line through the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, which was contested over a track biased against late-runners like this filly. Her last-out victory at Gulfstream Park was solid, and if she gets a fair track and an honest pace, I think she’s got a shot to do some damage and significantly increase the payoff potential of this sequence.


R8: 2

R9: 2,3,6,9

R10: 3,8,9,10

R11: 3,4,6,10

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Article Author

Horse Racing

Andrew Champagne is a horse racing handicapper with a specialism in juveniles. One thing is for certain, Champagne gets the party started.


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