The 2017 Kentucky Oaks will take place on Friday, pitting the best three-year-old fillies in the nation against one another at Churchill Downs.
Paradise Woods enters the race as the clear favourite, courtesy of a dominant win at the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks and a fantastic pedigree. Other contenders include Farrell, Abel Tasman and Miss Sky Warrior.
Here's a look at the post positions, via Eric Crawford of WDRB:
Eric Crawford @ericcrawford
Kentucky Oaks Post position draw, with morning line odds from Mike Battaglia https://t.co/4fOsNoo3Ww2017-5-2 15:21:04
While Miss Sky Warrior has been on a tear of late, with five straight wins and two in 2017 already, it's easy to see why the oddsmakers are backing Paradise Woods by a significant margin.
The Santa Anita Oaks winner didn't just beat a strong field in April―she obliterated the pack on her way to an easy win. Here's a look at the race replay:
Paradise Woods has only run in three races in her career, but the progress she has made during that span has been staggering. With the male class lacking in top-end quality in 2017, it isn't out of the question she could race against colts at a later date this year.
As shared by sports writer J.J. Hysell, legendary trainer Bob Baffert believes the filly is the clear favourite:
J.J. Hysell @trifectabox
Bob Baffert on Paradise Woods in #KyOaks: “She’s the horse to beat. . . She’s really, really special.”2017-5-2 19:01:48
There are other worthy contenders, however. Abel Tasman had a poor start at the Santa Anita Oaks and endured a dreadful trip, but she still recovered to finish strong, taking second place and showing nice pace in the final straight.
The outside draw isn't ideal, but it should allow her to get away a little cleaner and not get caught in traffic.
Miss Sky Warrior's lengthy resume―she has won every race she's entered apart from her debut―means she can't be overlooked, either. Unlike most contenders, she has plenty of experience at the distance of 1 ⅛ miles and has steadily improved her pace.
Farrell has also been unstoppable in 2017, and like Miss Sky Warrior, she has experience on her side. With great closing speed, she could use Paradise Woods' tendency to open up early and finish things off with a final dash.