Friday’s Oaks Day stakes picks

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Southlawn, winner of the Fair Grounds Oaks last time out, gives trainer Norm Casse his first Kentucky Oaks starter Friday at Churchill Downs. Coady Photography.

Want picks? We’ve got some picks. The handicapping teams from The Saratoga Special and This Is Horse Racing are back for another Triple Crown season and kick things off with Friday’s 149th running of the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs.

The Oaks leads off the “season” that will feature the Friday-Saturday stakes programs at Churchill, Pimlico Race Course and Belmont Park.

A star-studded Oaks headlines the day Friday, which features six other stakes including the Grade 1 La Troienne and Grade 2 Alysheba.

The Special’s Charles Bedard topped our field of eight during last year’s Triple Crown handicapping challenge, picking 18 winners over the three weekends. He finished four better than John Shapazian and Tom Law. Joe Clancy and Rob Whitlock were one behind that with 13 winners, with Sean Clancy (12), Jessica Paquette (11) and Paul Halloran (10) completing the field.

Here are the picks for Friday, May 5. Good luck.

Alysheba Stakes presented by Sentient Jet (G2). $600,000, 4-year-olds and up, 1 1/16 miles. Post time 12:43 p.m. ET.

Monster run of stakes over the next two days kicks off with rematch of the New Orleans Classic with Art Collector looking to turn the tables on West Will Power. Top field also includes last year’s Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike and multiple graded stakes winner Last Samurai.

Joe: Art Collector, Milliken, West Will Power.
John: West Will Power, Last Samurai, Art Collector.
Paul: Art Collector, West Will Power, Last Samurai
Jessica: Art Collector, Last Samurai, West Will Power.
Tom: Art Collector, Last Samurai, West Will Power.
Sean: Art Collector, West Will Power, Milliken.
Rob: West Will Power, Art Collector, Last Samurai.
Charles: Art Collector, Last Samurai, West Will Power.

Modesty Stakes presented by TwinSpires (G2). $300,000, fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up, 1 1/8 miles, turf. Post time 1:26 p.m.

Chad Brown sends out strong 1-2 punch in Shantisara and McKulick in search of yet another graded stakes win on the grass. He won it last year with Bleecker Street. Title defense won’t be easy with Didia, unbeaten in three starts for Ignacio Correas since coming to the U.S.; and Brendan Walsh’s duo of Lady Rockstar and New Year’s Eve in the field.

Joe: Didia, Shantarisa, Sparkle Blue.
John: Santisara, McKulick, Didia.
Paul: McCulick, Didia, Shantisara.
Jessica: Didia, Sparkle Blue, McKulick.
Tom: McKulick, Didia, Shantisara.
Sean: Didia, Shantisara, McKulick.
Rob: McKulick, Sparkle Blue, Henrietta Topham.
Charles: Sweet Dani Girl, Didia, Shantisara.

Eight Belles Stakes presented by Sysco (G2). $500,000, fillies, 3-year-olds, 7 furlongs. Post time 2:09 p.m.

Undefeated Florida-bred Munnys Gold drew post nine as she makes graded stakes debut for Todd Pletcher against Grade 3 winner Red Carpet Ready and promising maiden winner Accede. Several others with graded stakes experience in the field, including the shortening up Effortlesslyelgant, Condensation, Olivia Twist and Grand Love along with the comebacking Sabra Tuff.

Joe: Grand Love, Munnys Gold, Red Carpet Ready.
John: Munnys Gold, Accede, Condensation.
Paul: Munnys Gold, Red Carpet Ready, Grand Love.
Jessica: Accede, Munnys Gold, Grand Love.
Tom: Munnys Gold, Sabra Tuff, Red Carpet Ready.
Sean: Munnys Gold, Red Carpet Ready, Accede.
Rob: Munnys Gold, Accede, Red Carpet Ready.
Charles: Munnys Gold, Positano Sunset, Red Carpet Ready.

Unbridled Sidney Stakes presented by Turfway Park Racing and Gaming. $300,000, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, 5 1/2 furlongs, turf. Post time 3:03 p.m.

Caravel looks to make his four straight as she makes first start against her own gender since last October. The 13-time winner won the Grade 2 Shakertown against males last time out at Keeneland, where she also topped the boys in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint last fall. She’ll be tough here, even breaking from post 11 of 12.

Joe: Caravel, Salvaje, Bay Storm.
John: Caravel, Bay Storm, Oeuvre.
Paul: Caravel, Bay Storm, Oeuvre.
Jessica: Caravel, Bay Storm, Oeuvre.
Tom: Caravel, Majestic d’Oro, Bay Storm.
Sean: Caravel, Bay Storm, Salvaje.
Rob: Salvaje, Caravel, Love Of My Heart.
Charles: Caravel, Sarah Harper, Quaria Comet.

La Troienne Stakes presented by TwinSpires (G1). $750,000, fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up, 1 1/16 miles. Post time 4:04 p.m.

Secret Oath returns to the scene of her biggest victory in last year’s Kentucky Oaks and takes on strong group led by Grade 1 winners Society, Search Results, Pauline’s Pearl and A Mo Reay. Graded stakes winners Played Hard, Classy Edition and Desert Dawn add significant depth to one of the best races of the weekend.

Joe: Classy Edition, Society, Played Hard.
John: Search Results, Secret Oath, Pauline’s Pearl.
Paul: Search Results, Secret Oath, Classy Edition.
Jessica: Society, Secret Oath, Classy Edition.
Tom: Classy Edition, Secret Oath, A Mo Reay
Sean: A Mo Reay, Search Results, Classy Edition.
Rob: Played Hard, Secret Oath, Search Results. 
Charles: Society, Search Results, Played Hard.

Edgewood Stakes presented by Forcht Bank (G2). $500,000, fillies, 3-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles, turf. Post time 4:51 p.m.

Papilio topped several of these, namely Cairo Consort and Heavenly Sunday, last time out in the Appalachian and vies for back-to-back graded success. Slightly deeper water here with Mission Of Joy, Preliminary, Flashy Gem, Girl Named Charlie and Liguria in the field.

Joe: Papilio, Mission Of Joy, Preliminary.
John: Liguria, Cairo Consort, Mission Of Joy.
Paul: Cairo Consort, Papilio, Mission Of Joy.
Jessica: Mission Of Joy, Preliminary, Revalita.
Tom: Mission Of Joy, Papilio, Cairo Consort.
Sean: Mission Of Joy, Liguria, Papilio.
Rob: Cairo Consort, Mission Of Joy, Preliminary.
Charles: Mission Of Joy, Papilio, Cairo Consort.

Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1). $1,250,000, fillies, 3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles. Post time 5:51 p.m.

The best of the best line up for the headliner with divisional leader Wet Paint looking to stay on win streak against Fair Grounds Oaks winner Southlawn, Bourbonette Oaks winner Botanical, Gazelle winner Promiseher America, Ashland winner Defining Purpose and Gulfstream Park Oaks winner Affirmitive Lady.

Joe: Affirmative Lady, Wonder Wheel, Pretty Mischievous.
John: Wet Paint, Wonder Wheel, Southlawn.
Paul: Southlawn, Wet Paint, Botanical.
Jessica: Wonder Wheel, Bontanical, Wet Paint.
Tom: Southlawn, Wonder Wheel, Wet Paint.
Sean: Wet Paint, Southlawn, Mimi Kakushi.
Rob: Gambling Girl, Wet Paint, The Alys Look.
Charles: Botanical, Wet Paint, The Alys Look, Mimi Kakushi.

Bankroll Challenge

As a bonus, The Special’s handicapping team are offering some mythical plays on the Oaks Day card. We gave them $100 to wager, however they want on whatever races they want. Check out the plays:

John Shapazian:
Race 7: $100 Win 9

Jessica Paquette:
Race 6: $100 Win 2

Rob Whitlock
Race 8: $50 Win 2
Race 9: $25 Win 1
Race 11: $25 Win 3

Charles Bedard
Race 5: $3 Pick 3 1,4/1,2,7/6,7,9
Race 7: $10 Pick 3 9/11/7
Race 8: $1 Pick 4: 11/1,2,7/6,9,3/1,2,6,7

Tom Law
Race 9: $20 Win-Place 6
Race 10: $20 Win-Place 6
Race 11: $10 Win-Place 4