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Bellafina 2-1 early favorite for Kentucky Oaks for fillies

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Bellafina is the 2-1 morning line favorite for the 145th Kentucky Oaks after drawing the No. 4 post position in the marquee race for 3-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs.

Champagne Anyone and Restless Rider are the 6-1 co-second choices from the Nos. 10 and 14 posts of horses officially in the field for Friday’s $1.25 million race over 1 1/8 miles. Dunbar Road, one of two also-eligible fillies, drew 5-1 odds and would become the second choice with an opening in the 14-horse field. Jaywalk and Serengeti Empress are 8-1 co-third choices and will start from the Nos. 7 and 13 posts.

As expected, Bellafina is the favorite thanks to a 3-0 record this year and highlighted by last month’s 5¼-length victory in the Santa Anita Oaks. Trained by Simon Callaghan and ridden by Flavien Prat, the filly has six wins and a second-place finish in eight career starts and tops the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard with 132 points.

Bellafina was traveling from California and is expected to arrive at Churchill Downs on Monday after putting in her final workout at Santa Anita on Sunday. Callaghan is expected at the track on Wednesday.

“She galloped a mile and a half and she looks very good,” the trainer said of Bellafina’s workout. “We’re very pleased with her.”

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One of Bellafina’s projected challengers is Champagne Anyone, who is second with 113 points and coming off last month’s win in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks. She also has two third-place finishes in 2019 and has three wins and three thirds in seven career starts.

Trainer Ian Wilkes has been pleased with Champagne Anyone’s workouts at Churchill Downs and was encouraged by her post position.

“It’s better than being stuck down on the inside and can give us a lot of options to see what happens in the race,” Wilkes said. “You know the first eighth of a mile, we can see where we want to be and what’s happening.”

Nine fillies drew double-digit odds including Out for a Spin, one of four 15-1 choices. The winner of this month’s Ashland at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, the Virginia-bred filly will start along the rail, and trainer Dallas Stewart acknowledged that she must avoid getting boxed in with other horses to have a chance.

“She’s not going to be close to the lead with this group like she was at Keeneland,” said Stewart, who will seek his first Oaks win since 2006 with Lemons Forever.

“Hopefully, it’s going to be a tactical race for us. We’ve got a great rider (Irad Ortiz Jr.) that’ll get the job done.”

On the outside of the Oaks looking in is Dunbar Road, who finished a half-length behind Champagne Anyone in the Gulfstream Park Oaks. Also eligible is Point of Honor.

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