2018 Ashland Stakes Predictions
What’s on the Line
For starters, this is 1 1/16-mile event is a prestigious race for three year-old fillies with its half a million dollar purse and status as a major prep for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks. The field of 7 lining up for this year’s race is a nice bunch, led by 4/5 morning line favorite Monomoy Girl who will try to secure trainer Brad Cox’s first grade one victory. The Ashland, carded as race 9, immediately proceeds the Grade 2 Bluegrass Stakes – one of the final major Kentucky Derby preps.
Meet the field
1-Monomoy Girl 4/5
2-Eskimo Kisses 2/1
3-Patrona Margarita 15/1
4-C.S. Incharge 10/1
5-Andina Del Sure 6/1
6-Ipanema Beach 20/1
Key Handicapping Factors
Key #1: Weather
The weather in Lexington, KY is doing crazy things. It was 75 degrees earlier in the week, but freezing temperatures along with snow are expected by race time. That’s nuts. Just what kind of shape the Keeneland dirt is in by the time the Ashland goes off is anyone’s guess. Will it be frozen, thawing, muddy, snowy? Hard to say at this point, but it probably won’t be fast.
Key #2: The Favorite
Monomoy Girl is 4 for 5 in her career and a neck away from perfection. The talented filly showed a new dimension last out winning the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra February 17 at Fair Grounds in off-the-pace fashion. She came from seven lengths behind the early leaders to win going away under regular jockey Florent Geroux. Prior to that effort, Monomoy Girl had raced soley on the lead. She’s worked in stellar fashion since and looks primed to win this race given her form and versatility. She’s never raced over an off-track, but does have a pair of turf wins and has victories at four different tracks. She’s strictly the one to beat at short odds.
Key #3: Eskimo Kisses
She’s surely the most aptly named horse running Saturday given the forecast in Lexington. While I think this horse is a notch below Monomoy Girl, Eskimo Kisses is rapidly improving. She ran second by a head March 24 in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks and has recorded Beyer Figures of 87 and 92 in her last two starts, making her every bit the equal of Monomoy Girl if you go strictly by the numbers. Eskimo Kisses has also shown a fondness for a sloppy track, posting her best number (92) while besting allowance rivals at Oaklawn over such a surface. If Monomoy Girl goes to the lead and gets pressured, this closer is extremely dangerous. Bettors might find her available at more generous post time odds than the 2/1 morning line.
In my opinion, once you get past Monomoy Girl and Eskimo Kisses in this race, the only other interesting contender is Andina Del Sur, who will be making her first start on dirt after racing exclusively on grass in her first four career races. In those starts, the Thomas Albertrani trainee is 2 for 4 with a pair of third-place efforts. She’ll have to improve to threaten the top two here, but she could find herself in the hunt turning for home.
As for my top pick, I cannot find any good reasons to play against Monomoy Girl. She’s fast, versatile and ready to fire. The only problem will be the certainty of a short price.
1st: Monomoy Girl
2nd: Eskimo Kisses
3rd: Andina Del Sur
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