Race 10 at Oaklawn Park | Saturday, April 25 | Post Time 6:16 PM Eastern Time
Carousel Stakes | Purse $125,000 | Six Furlongs | Fillies and Mares, Four Year Olds and Upward
The Carousel Stakes marks the four year old debut of Bellafina (1), the multiple grade 1 stakes winner who won six of her first eight races, all grade 1 or grade 2 stakes. Starting with a poor fifth place effort in last year’s Kentucky Oaks, Bellafina lost five in a row including when second at 3 to 5 odds in the La Brea Stakes to close out her three year old campaign. Although Bellafina could beat these with her best effort, there are TWO pretty large question marks concerning whether she will do just that, not including the fact she’s a POOR win bet opening at 8 to 5 odds. The first question is the distance because although she won the only time she raced this six furlong trip, that win came in August, 2018 in her second career start and every one of her five sprint races since then have been seven furlongs. The second question, more important than the first, is she’s a grade 1 stakes winner coming back from a layoff (four months) in a non-graded stakes. This race is just the start of her 2020 campaign and logically she either may not be 100% fit or if she’s not dominant and if there’s a battle, just how much will Joe Talamo want to ask her to win this race which isn’t important in the scheme of things. As such, I’m going to take a stand against her as a win contender and play some others, accounting for her to finish second on exacta tickets.
Therefore, Midnight Fantasy (2) is my top pick. She’s won five of 11 dirt races, finishing second in three others. She’s on top of her game, having won three back off a five month layoff but disqualified for interference), then finishing second, before a mighty win at the end of February at Oaklawn in the nearly identical Spring Fever Stakes. Martin Garcia was aboard for the very first time in that race and rides back, with Garcia getting off Sunny Dale (3), who he’s ridden to three straight wins at Oaklawn. Midnight Fantasy earned a career-best 111 Equibase figure winning the stakes in December and to put that into perspective, the best Equibase figure Bellafina has ever earned was 110 when second to the magnificent Covfefe in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. Midnight Fantasy shows all signs of holding stakes winning form with 46.4 half-mile workout over the track seven days ago which was the best of 105 on the day, more reasons to believe this filly can win her second stakes in a row at Oaklawn and post the mild upset, opening at 5 to 1.
Mia Mischief (8), like Bellafina, is a multiple stakes winner and a grade 1 winner. She’s made few mistakes, with nine wins in 20 starts ad only worse than second twice in 12 career starts at this distance. In the 2019 Carousel, Mia Mischief ran second to a three length winner (Ours to Run), then won the Grade 1 Humana Distaff and two more stakes on the year. Following more than four months off, Mia Mischief started her 2020 campaign with a win in a classified allowance race at Oaklawn on March 20, earning a 105 figure. Considering she had run fast enough for a 110 figure in the Humana Distaff last year in her third start after a layoff, Mia Mischief can take a nice step forward and is another worth considering for a win bet, opening at 4 to 1.
Referring to the Spring Fever Stakes which Midnight Fantasy just won, Amy’s Challenge (6) was beaten a neck in that same race and won it in 2019. Last year she had won the American Beauty Stakes prior to that with a career best 114 figure which is the best ANY horse in this field has earned, ever. She returned from nine months off on February 1 and finished fourth as the 4 to 5 favorite after battling head-and-head for the lead for the first five furlongs in this year’s American Beauty. Four weeks later in the Spring Fever, Amy’s Challenge stalked in fifth and rallied to miss by that narrow margin under Canchari, who did not ride in the American Beauty but who did ride her in both stakes wins at Oaklawn last season. Also with some really fast workouts coming into the race, Amy’s Challenge rounds out a quartet which make up the bulk of the probability to win this race.
Win Bets: Midnight Fantasy (2) to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more.
Additionally, “IF” Mia Mischief (8) is 5 to 2 or higher odds near post time she should be bet to win as well.
The strategy will be to try and beat Bellafina as a win contender so the plays will be:
Box Midnight Fantasy (2), Mia Mischief (8) and Amy’s Challenge (6).
Midnight Fantasy (2), Mia Mischief (8) and Amy’s Challenge (6) over Midnight Fantasy (2), Mia Mischief (8), Amy’s Challenge (6) and Bellafina (1).