LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Untapable, the 4-5 morning-line favorite for the Kentucky Oaks, remains the horse to beat Friday at Churchill Downs, despite drawing the outside post earlier this week.
Ridden by Rosie Napravnik for all but one of her six starts, Untapable won the Fair Grounds Oaks in March and has four wins.
Napravnik did not seem overly concerned about the Untapable’s post draw of 13, the farthest outside position.
“It’s probably not ideal, but I’ve gotten a really good trip from the 13 hole in the Oaks before,” she told The Courier-Journal on Tuesday. Napravnik finished second from gate 13 on St. John’s River in 2011. She also won the 2012 Oaks abroad Believe You Can, becoming the first female jockey to win the 1 1/8-mile race.
She also said she would prefer the No. 13 position over post 1, where she will start Vicar’s in Trouble in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.
Untapable has drawn comparisons to Rachel Alexandra, the filly who won the 2009 Oaks by more than 20 lengths and who was later named Horse of the Year.
Untapable’s trainer, Steve Asmussen, started training Rachel Alexandra after her Oaks win, and led her to a triumph in the Preakness the same year. Asmussen has won the Oaks once before, with Summerly in 2005. He also has horse in the Kentucky Derby, Tapiture, starting at with 8-1 odds.
Asmussen’s potential Oaks win is clouded, however, by investigations he faces over allegations from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that he mistreated horses. The New York Times reported on the undercover investigation in March.
Leading up to the Oaks and Saturday’s Derby, Asmussen has avoided talk of the allegations, preferring to focus on the races instead.
Other trainers and owners have said that they don’t believe the accusations. Ron Winchell of Winchell Thoroughbreds, which owns both Untapable and Tapiture, said there was a “rush to judgment” before any investigations had finished.
PETA, however, stands by its claims.
“Recent statements from prominent members of the racing industry have implied or stated outright that the 9½-minute video that PETA released was not an accurate reflection of what occurred in the Asmussen barn,” the organization said in a statement Wednesday. “If anything, the video is not as negative as it could be.”
Trainer Todd Pletcher, whose Princess of Sylmar won last year’s Oaks, has two horses starting in the 13-horse field. My Miss Sophia has 8-1 odds and will break from post 11, and Got Lucky is at 20-1 and post 12.
“We have two fillies with different running styles,” Pletcher said. “My Miss Sophia is a filly that will show more speed and be up close to the pace, and Got Lucky is a filly that will relax off the pace. So they complement each other’s style well.”
My Miss Sophia won her last two starts, including the Gazelle Stakes at Aqueduct last month.
“She’s only had three starts but she’s been very impressive so far,” Pletcher said.
Unbridled Forever, who placed third in the Fair Grounds Oaks, will also compete in Friday’s race, with 12-1 morning-line odds.
Post time for the Kentucky Oaks is 5:49 p.m. Friday.