Who are the Kennedy Oaks contenders
A fascinating edition of the Kennedy Oaks this year, with form lines coming through a few key races.
The key historical pointer to note is that the last four winners of the race have come through the Wakeful Stakes at Flemington on Derby Day, using the quick turnaround to great effect. Of those four, three won the race (Willowy, Miami Bound and Aristia), Personal running second in 2020.
In this year’s field of 11, six raced in the Wakeful and occupy roughly 54% of the market, meaning there is a likelihood that the Wakeful will provide the winner again this year.
However, history does not always predict the future, and this year’s favourite comes through the Spring Champion at Randwick.
She’s Extreme was more than gallant in defeat there- she arguably should’ve won with clear air earlier, and that form has worked out well since, with the quinella of the VRC Derby, Manzoice and Sharp ‘n’ Smart also in that race.
She’s taken on the elite three-year-old races in Sydney and run very well. Sixth, beaten 3 lengths in the Golden Rose, second beaten 2 lengths in the Flight Stakes, and of course a Group 1 winner at two in the Champagne Stakes hold her in good stead here.
By Racing And Sports measure, she has a clear ratings edge on this field, with the only query seemingly being if she’ll stay the 2500m. Running the fastest closing splits of the Spring Champion suggests she will, and if that’s the case, she’ll prove very hard to topple.
Renaissance Woman was in behind her at Randwick and worked home well for sixth. It’s tough to see her turning the tables but her form does tie in, having beaten many of the Wakeful fillies in the Ethereal Stakes at Caulfield. Her breeding (by Reliable Man out of a Fastnet Rock mare) suggests she’ll stay and she has to be considered an each-way hope.
Foxy Cleopatra is the equally lightest raced filly in the field, having had just three starts. She was tough but no match late for Renaissance Women at Caulfield. She’s open to further improvement, but others may have better grounding for the 2500m.
The Wakeful fillies will have no issue with grounding- in fact, they have the opposite. The Wakeful Stakes was run at a brutal tempo, with the leaders going out nearly 16 lengths faster than average to the 800m.
With that in mind, the pick of those fillies has to be the winner Zennzella, who sat outside the leader and just kept kicking in the straight. The other leader, Thinking Rain, was beaten 23 lengths into last place, highlighting the enormity of Zenzella’s effort.
The question is whether she can back up five days later and produce her best. We’ll leave that up to the kings of the staying ranks, Ciaron Maher & David Eustace.
Pavitra is honest and should run well again. She’s placed in both the Ethereal and the Wakeful. We'd be surprised if she won but she’s in the mix.
The eye catcher of the Wakeful was Queen Air, who had to weave a passage through and was flashing late for fourth. Still a maiden, she’ll be hoping they go hard out in front again and allow her to swoop over the top.
We think the Spring Champion has proven itself well. She’s Extreme should’ve gone close to winning that and had Renaissance Woman comfortably in behind her, who beat most of the Wakeful fillies in the Ethereal. She looks the best filly in the race and her class should shine through.