The road to the Longines Kentucky Oaks makes a key stop at Churchill Downs, home of Saturday’s $400,000 Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes.

Held at the same course as the Kentucky Oaks, the Golden Rod is a 1 1/16 mile competition open to two-year-old mares. The race dates back to 1910 and the long list of winners includes heroines from Kentucky Oaks and Hall of Fame inductees Silverbulletday and Rachel Alexandra.

Only time will tell if the 2022 Golden Rod winner achieves similar long-term success, but there are certainly many promising names among the 10 entries. The most important among them is #4 Hoosier Phillyan exciting filly who has been unbeaten in two starts for trainer Tom Amoss.

Hoosier Philly wasn’t overly flashy in her debut sprint on September 25 at Churchill Downs, but she got the job done. After settling in fifth place, 2 1/2 lengths behind the lead, Hoosier Philly gradually advanced and moved away to prevail by 1 3/4 lengths.

In her next race, Hoosier Philly took her game to a new level when she stretched 1 1/16 miles for the Rags to Riches Stakes on October 30th at Churchill Downs. Hoosier Philly sped over a sloppy stretch and relaxed in third place for the first 3/4 mile before blasting past the leaders to win by 7 1/2 lengths. Hoosier Philly was full of running down the home stretch of Rags to Riches, with the official Equibase results chart stating that she “took command under her own steam in the top section and then sped away while playfully changing her lead through the final furlong”. A daughter of 3-leading sire Into Mischief out of a mare by 3-leading sire Tapit, Hoosier Philly was bred for success and is a deserving favorite to win the Golden Rod.

If you’re willing to consider Hoosier Philly a standout in the Golden Rod then betting on the race becomes a lot easier. If we can find the right horses for exotic bets like exacta and trifecta under Hoosier Philly, we’ll be set for some tempting payouts.

An obvious candidate for inclusion is #1 Pretty mischievous, to be ridden by Churchill’s leading jockey, Tyler Gaffalione. Pretty Mischievous is a daughter of Into Mischief out of a Tapit mare (replica of the cross that produced Hoosier Philly). Pretty Mischievous sprints 2 on 2 at Churchill Downs and wins a first special weight of 2 1/4 lengths and an optional eligibility of 1 3/4 lengths. Pretty Mischievous is fast enough to win sprints, but she’s perfectly content being a few lengths from the early lead, so a relaxed ride should be on the cards as she stretches 1 1/16 miles. With a clean ride from her inside post position, Pretty Mischievous can land a top 3 finish in the Golden Rod.

#10 Define purpose is another exciting contender. Despite finishing fifth in her first 1 1/16 mile race at Keeneland, Defining Purpose took a big step forward when she tackled the same distance at Churchill Downs for her second start, leading all the way to one first specialweight race to be beaten by six lengths. Trainer Kenny McPeek tends to be dangerous with young stakes horses on the Kentucky racetrack and it’s possible we haven’t seen the best that Defining Purpose has to offer.

Other fillies worth respecting are #3 American Missilefell behind in class after facing stiff competition in the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes and Grade 1 Frizette Stakes; #6 Knock out your socks, runner-up in the Grade 2 JP Morgan Chase Jessamine Stakes on grass; and #7 Maxan impressive winner of her first two starts before finishing second to Hoosier Philly in the Rags to Riches.

Depending on how much budget you have set aside for betting on the Golden Rod, we’ve outlined a pair of betting strategies that cost $10 and $30:

Betting Strategy A: Exactas ($10)

$5 exactly: 4 with 1.10 ($10)

What to say on the betting window: Churchill Downs, 10thth Race, $5 exactly 4 with 1.10

Betting Strategy B: Trifecta ($30)

$9 exactly: 4 with 1.10 ($18)

What to say on the betting window: Churchill Downs, 10thth Race, $9 exactly 4 with 1.10

$1.50 Trifecta: 4 w/1.10 w/1,3,6,7,10 ($12)

What to say on the betting window: Churchill Downs, 10thth Race, $1.50 Trifecta 4 w/1.10 w/1,3,6,7,10

Good luck and have fun racing!

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