There are not many starters in the Coaching Club American Oaks, but there is one very big standout. In Longines Kentucky Oaks winner Malathaat, the CCA Oaks has attracted an undefeated, 5-for-5 filly who will try to become the 15th filly to sweep both the Kentucky Oaks and the CCA Oaks and to become the fourth CCA Oaks winner in the last six years to become the champion 3-year-old filly.
1. Malathaat (2-5 morning-line odds): On paper, as one would expect from an unbeaten multiple Grade 1 winner, she will be very tough to beat and a huge odds-on favorite. She’s already beaten two of her three rivals, though that might be the lone concern for her. With no one having sharp early speed, there could be a rather slow early pace for her to chase as Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher takes aim at an eighth CCA Oaks win.
2. Maracuja (6-1): She was seventh in the Kentucky Oaks, 7 1/2 lengths behind Malathaat, and hasn’t raced since then. With her late-running style, it’s hard to like her chances in a small field given the likelihood of a slow pace.
3. Rockpaperscissors (15-1): She won her last start by 9 3/4 lengths, but the difference between that off-the-turf allowance win at Indiana Grand and facing Malathaat is a challenge about as tall as the Adirondack Mountains. If anything, she probably will be the early pacesetter and, with a top-notch rider like Luis Saez aboard, that could make her a threat to land in the exacta.
4. Clairiere (9-5): She looms the main rival for Malathaat. A Grade 2 winner, she was fourth in the Kentucky Oaks, 3 ¼ lengths behind the winner, and was a closing third in the Mother Goose Stakes after a stumbling start. It seems like a simple boxed exacta with her and Malathaat, but the pace prevents it from being a no-brainer wager.
THE PICK: Malathaat
Predicted order of finish: 1-4-3-2