One of three Grade 1s on the card at Santa Anita on December 26 comes in the form of the G1 American Oaks. This race is the eleventh on the card, and it will see a field of eleven fillies compete over a distance of 1 ¼ miles on the turf.
Chad Brown, Richard Baltas, and Todd Pletcher all have excellent records in this race, with all trainers having won on a record two occasions. Last year’s winner of the G1 American Oaks was Queen Goddess for Michael McCarthy.
(8) Pizza Bianca
I have been slightly disappointed with the progression shown by Pizza Bianca this term, as he looked like a standout contender following victory in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last November. However, she is yet to really fulfill her potential, and there are questions whether this distance will suit.
She was back in fourth over 1 1/8 miles in the Sands Point Stakes in October, and has since finished third in the G1 Matriarch Stakes over a mile at Del Mar. But, she remains an extremely talented runner if she can piece together the form.
One horse that doesn’t look to have any issues with the distance covered in the G1 American Oaks appears to be Skims. This three-year-old was an excellent winner of the Sands Points Stakes over 1 1/8 miles at Belmont At The Big A in October, and has also placed over this distance in the G2 Wonder Again Stakes.
This distance will suit her perfectly, but there will be clear questions to answer on her first start in California, with all of her previous career starts coming on the East coast.
(6) Miss En Scene
Miss En Scene is a horse that I will have my eyes on in the G1 American Oaks, as I have shared in the three-year-old. This distance looks tailormade for her this weekend, as her best recent run came when finishing second in the Josh Musker Fillies Stakes in September over this distance.
I also think she traveled very well on her previous start, as she eventually took sixth in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. I’m not sure if she has what it takes to win the race, but she could certainly play a role for the placings.
(3) Lady Clementine
Another likely big-priced selection that I could see challenging for the top three is Lady Clementine. Frankie Dettori takes the ride on this three-year-old, and the Italian will be a key figure in racing in California over the next three months after deciding to end his retirement year in the U.S.
This runner was a winner on her previous start at Del Mar, achieving a career-best speed figure of 97. She looks ready for this challenge on Boxing Day, and she always runs her best race, which could be good enough for a top-three finish on Monday.
G1 American Oaks Free Pick: (1) Rhea Moon
I think the most likely winner of the American Oaks on Monday is the Phillip D’Amato-trained Rhea Moon. This three-year-old has been excellent over a mile on her previous two starts, recently landing the G3 Autumn Miss Stakes at Santa Anita with a career-best speed figure of 105.
There aren’t any lingering doubts surrounding her ability over this distance, as she was a fine winner over course and distance in June. This looks like a perfect opportunity for her to claim a first Grade 1.
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