Welcome to 2022 Kentucky Oaks Prospect Snapshots, where I introduce the contenders for the May 6 Longines Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs, the women’s equivalent of the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve. We’re less than two weeks away from this year’s race, and anticipation continues to build for what looks like one of the most stacked Oaks fields in a while.
This week, we’ll take a look at possible favorite Kathleen O. She’s been perfect in four career starts so far, and carries her unbeaten streak and stellar reputation through the first Friday of May. .
Racing resume: Kathleen O. made waves in her debut, a special seven-stage first weight race on a muddy track at Aqueduct on Nov. 12, 2021. She raced to the back of the seven-horse field in the opening stages before stumbling to throw. the far bend. As the peloton passed eighth pole, the Upstart filly remained 6 ½ lengths behind the leaders and looked hopelessly beaten. However, she exploded late and rallied to win in a photo-finish.
In her next start, Kathleen O. made her Cash Run Stakes debut at Gulfstream Park on New Years Day. Once again she rallied off the pace and won by 8½ lengths on the outside. She picked up another win on March 5, winning the $200,000, Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes presented by FanDuel by two lengths after hitting the front in the final eighth of a mile.
For her final Oaks prep, Kathleen O. competed in the $250,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks Grade 2 on April 2. She was well supported at the betting windows, becoming the overwhelming 1-2 favorite in a field of six. As usual, the filly fell behind from the start, even though she was only a few lengths off the pace in a tight field. She made her move on the final lap and passed her two-lap test with flying colors in a 2 ¾ length win.
Speed figures: Kathleen O.’s recent speed numbers are among the best in the potential Kentucky Oaks field. She ran an Equibase speed figure of 95 in the Davona Dale and a 100 in the Gulfstream Park Oaks. This 100 is tied for the second-best last digit with Santa Anita Oaks winner Desert Dawn. Only Nest, which scored a 106 in the Central Bank Ashland Stakes, will go into the Oaks with a higher Equibase number.
The Beyer Speed Figure scale is more favorable to Kathleen O. Although she ran a rather pedestrian 85 in the Davona Dale, she improved greatly in the Gulfstream Park Oaks to a figure of 98. C It’s six points more than any other Oaks competitor ran in their final build, and two points more than the Beyer won by White Abarrio in the Curlin Florida Derby presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa later in the year. day at Gulfstream Park.
Racing style: As mentioned above, Kathleen O. has a very exciting running style. She always comes off the pace, takes control in the stretch and goes for the win. In the Cash Run and the Davona Dale, she slipped away from the field once she had clear navigation and didn’t encounter much resistance. She had to work a bit to pass Goddess of Fire in the lead in the Gulfstream Park Oaks, but that rival faded late and Kathleen O. cleared out at the end.
Connections: Kathleen O. belongs to Winngate Stables, the pen name of retired lawyer Pat Kearney. Kearney, a lifelong racing fan, got involved in horse ownership last year on the recommendation of his friend, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. Kearney bought Kathleen O. for $275,000 at the 2021 Ocala Breeders Sale of 2-year-olds in training. He named the horse after his wife Kathleen, whose maiden name was O’Boyle. Kathleen O. is one of two horses owned by Kearney. The other, Cloudy, was downgraded to two starts at Churchill Downs last fall and recently returned to the work tab.
Shug McGaughey is one of the most successful coaches in American racing history. McGaughey won two Triple Crown events, nine Breeders’ Cup races and the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer in 1988. The Lexington, Ky. native campaigned for many top female horses, including the undefeated champion Personal Ensign, Inside Information, Heavenly Prize, and Storm Flag Flying. McGaughey won the Kentucky Oaks in 1993 with Dispute. As noted above, McGaughey helped pick Kathleen O. for Kearney at last spring’s sale.
Kathleen O. was ridden by Javier Castellano in his four starts so far. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017, Castellano is one of the nation’s most accomplished runners, with more than 5,480 career wins and $367 million in earnings under his belt. The four-time Eclipse Award winner won the Oaks in 2016 with Cathryn Sophia.
Genealogical notes: Kathleen O.’s sire is Upstart, a two-time Graduated Stakes winner who finished third in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and second in the 2015 Florida Derby. Upstart is also the sire of Zandon, a Toyota Blue Grass Stakes winner and top Kentucky Derby hopeful.
Kathleen O.’s dam is Quaver, who was turfed at age 3 in 2015. Her dam sire is Blame, the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner. Millionaire, Grade 1 winner and sire Cupid is a close relative of Kathleen O. from her female family.
Potential of oak trees: Kathleen O. has tons of upside in the Oaks and could very well become the favorite after the hour mark. She has yet to run a bad race, showing great closing speed each time and winning impressively in her four starts. The filly has a top trainer and top jockey and will be groomed for this race. Perhaps his biggest hurdle is trying to close in a large field. She has never raced against more than six rivals and could find herself stuck in traffic in the middle of her rally. Still, she overcame issues to win before, so that shouldn’t be a big deal. No one would be surprised if Kathleen O. went 5 for 5 on the first Friday in May.