LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Brad Cox views his full plate this weekend at Churchill Downs as a good problem to have.
Especially if his contingent of fillies hit the board in Friday’s 149th Kentucky Oaks, a race where the Louisville-born trainer has thrived.
Cox certainly likes his chances with red-hot Wet Paint entering as the 5-2 morning line favorite, with Botanical the 4-1 second choice among 14 horses. They will start the $1.25 million race from the Nos. 7 and 6 posts, respectively, several slots to the right of stablemate The Alys Look (15-1).
“She’s finished up with not a lot of pace in front of her,” Cox said of Wet Paint. “She’s finished up with a hot pace in front of her. So, she always comes running. Bottom line, she’s very, very consistent.”
The Grade 1 race over 1 1/8 mile kicks off Cox’s busiest weekend at the historic track just a few blocks from where he grew up. He has four colts running in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, where Angel of Empire is the 8-1 third betting choice among 20 horses.
His quest for a possible Oaks/Derby double starts with Wet Paint, who has won all three starts as a 3-year-old by nearly eight lengths combined. Botanical has won her last four, including all three starts this year, while The Alys Look aims to build off a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks.
It seems like a lot to keep track of, but Cox insists the process is “very organized.” All have trained well at Churchill Downs, giving Cox three chances for his third Oaks victory since 2018 and his first since 2020 with Monomoy Girl, the 3-year-old champion filly.
“I’m super happy with them,” Cox said this week.
Norm Casse-trained Southlawn poses a challenge as the 8-1 third choice from the No. 4 post and is coming off a Fair Grounds Oaks win by 3 1/4 lengths.
His father, Mark, hopes Juvenile champion Wonder Wheel (12-1) earns her first win since last fall’s Breeders’ Cup. She was a distant sixth in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland behind winner Defining Purpose (12-1) but was second in her other start this year.
Said Casse, “If the real Wonder Wheel shows up, she’ll be tough.”
Post time is 5:51 p.m. Eastern.
The Kentucky Oaks field from the rail out, with odds:
1. Mimi Kakushi, 20-1; 2. The Alys Look, 15-1; 3. Gambling Girl, 15-1; 4. Southlawn, 8-1; 5. Wonder Wheel, 12-1; 6. Botanical, 4-1; 7. Wet Paint, 5-2; 8. Promisher America, 30-1; 9. All Tell Me Nolies, 15-1; 10. Flying Connection, 15-1; 11. Defining Purpose, 12-1; 12. Dorth Vader, 20-1; 13. Affirmative Lady, 10-1; 14. Pretty Mischievous, 10-1. Also eligible: Taxed, 20-1; Julia Shining, 15-1; Hoosier Philly, 30-1.
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