Brent Sedo | Sun 22/07/2018 - 05:10 EDT

2018 Coaching Club America Oaks Picks

2018 Coaching Club America Oaks Picks
The two fastest three-year-old fillies in North America will renew their rivalry on Sunday when Monomoy Girl and Midnight Bisou go head-to-head in the $300,000 (G1) Coaching Club America Oaks at Saratoga Race Course. Between them, they have won eight of their last nine races and last met in the 2018 Kentucky Oaks in May, where Monomoy Girl prevailed.

Coaching Club America Oaks Preview and Odds

After launching her career in 2017 with three consecutive wins, Monomoy Girl closed out the year running second in the (G2) Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill Downs, beaten by just a neck in her first graded-stakes try. Since the calendar has turned over she has reeled off four straight wins at four different tracks, the last three of those being Grade 1 stakes.

The slight second choice in the betting behind Midnight Bisou in the Kentucky Oaks, she showed her customary early speed and stalked just off the pacesetter through the first half-mile before going to the lead and prevailing by a half-length over a surprisingly stubborn 16-1 shot Wonder Gadot, who has since come back to beat the boys in taking the Queen’s Plate in Canada. 

She showed no ill-effects from that battle next time out when she tracked an even faster pace and went on to win the (G1) Acorn Stakes at one mile on the Belmont Park dirt. Now she stretches out to 1 1/8 miles again and with little other early speed in a small field, she may just take them wire-to-wire as the 7-5 morning line favorite.

Midnight Bisou May Have to Change Tactics

In contrast to the consistent up-front style of Monomoy Girl, Midnight Bisou (4-5) has come from way off the pace to win as often as she’s been up near the lead and it will be interesting to see what trainer Steve Asmussen asks of jockey Mike Smith, and whether they’ll try to stick close to their main rival or take back and make one late run. 

At one point she was as far back as eleventh in the 14-horse Kentucky Oaks field and made a huge sweeping move on the turn and was gaining on the top two when she ran out of track and had to settle for third. She came back from that to win with ease pushing the pace in the (G1) Mother Goose Stakes in late June against a field of only four others. Probably the last thing Smith wants to see is Monomoy Girl running loose in the lead, and he may have no choice but send Midnight Bisou after her early and hope he doesn’t get outrun. 

Given the prospect of facing the Big Two, the race has only drawn a field of three others, but both Eskimo Kisses (6-1) and Chocolate Martini (12-1) are going to take a shot at turning the tables against the fillies that have already beaten them. 

Something of a second-level rivalry of its own, those two have twice previously battled it out, with Chocolate Martini grabbing a win by a head over Eskimo Kisses back in February in the (G2) Fair Grounds Oaks, while Eskimo Kisses ran fourth to Chocolate Martini’s fifth in the Kentucky Oaks. 

Both fillies employ a late-running style and on form, it’s almost a coin toss between them. Eskimo Kisses has shown a bit more tactical speed, and if the pace is moderate she’ll probably have a better chance of being there in the end, while a speed duel between the top two would probably favor Chocolate Martini. 

Rounding out the field, Gio Game (10-1) comes in for trainer Mark Casse and might end up being the only hitch in Monomoy Girls’ attempt to control the pace. Her only wins have come at the maiden and allowance levels and on paper, she seems in over her head here. She kept on well to finish third – beaten 6 1/4 lengths by Monomoy Girl – in the Acorn so if anything the added distance here could be a benefit. 

The Coaching Club America Oaks goes Sunday, July 22 from Saratoga Springs Race Course in New York. Race #9 of 10 on the day, expected post time is 5:40 PM Eastern. 

Entries w/ ML Odds

  1. Chocolate Martini (12-1)
  2. Midnight Bisou (7-5)
  3. Eskimo Kisses (6-1)
  4. Monomoy Girl (4-5)
  5. Gio Game (10-1)

Coaching Club America Oaks Picks

  • 1) #4 – Monomoy Girl
  • 2) #2 – Midnight Bisou
  • 3) #3 – Eskimo Kisses
  • 4) #1 – Chocolate Martini

Saratoga Summer Racing

Opening weekend at Saratoga kicks off seven weeks of racing at the track known as The Spa, which will host 35 graded-stakes races from now to September, including the Grade 1 $1.2 million Whitney Stakes and the Grade 1 $1.25 million Travers. Catch previews of all the major Saratoga races here and make your bets with Bovada’s online racebook.

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