Can Going Global Continue Her Excellence in American Oaks?

The final Grade 1 race of the 2021 U.S. racing calendar is shaping up to be a good one. Sunday’s $300,000 Grade 1 American Oaks at Santa Anita Park looks to be one of the best betting races of the post-Christmas season.

First held in 2002, the American Oaks is set to celebrate its 20th edition in style. The 1 1/4-mile turf test has drawn 11 talented 3-year-old fillies, and while many are based in California, there are also a couple of high-profile out-of-state shippers in the mix.

The morning line favorite, for obvious reasons, is #5 Going Global at odds of 9-5. The Irish-bred filly has been almost unstoppable since arriving in the U.S. last winter. From seven starts this year (all against stakes company), Going Global has recorded six wins and one runner-up finish. Along the way, she’s rattled off victories in the Grade 3 Sweet Life Stakes, the China Doll Stakes, the Grade 3 Providencia Stakes, the Grade 3 Honeymoon Stakes, the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, and the Grade 2 Goldikova Stakes Presented by PNC.

A stretch-running filly with a powerful burst of acceleration, Going Global has excelled over a variety of distances. Three of her graded wins have come over 1 1/8 miles, so stretching out over 1 1/4 miles for the American Oaks shouldn’t be an issue. She’s also beaten strong competition – in the one-mile Goldikova Stakes last month, Going Global unleashed a terrific rally to beat the accomplished older mares Zofelle and Princess Grace with ease.

Going Global’s regular rider is Flavien Prat, a 27% winner this year and Santa Anita’s runaway leading jockey by wins since 2016. Prat is renowned for his skill at guiding turf horses, so Going Global figures to work out an ideal trip in the American Oaks. Throw in the fact she’s been cranking out sharp workouts with regularity, and Going Global appears poised to end her banner year with a second Grade 1 win.

Who are the other key contenders in the American Oaks? Certainly East Coast raider #1 Fluffy Socks warrants respect. Trainer Chad Brown has won two of the last three editions of the American Oaks, so Fluffy Socks – fresh off a victory in the 1 1/8-mile Grade 2 Sands Point Stakes at Belmont Park – will have every chance to factor on Sunday. However, Fluffy Socks was beaten 1 3/4 lengths by Going Global when third in the Del Mar Oaks, so she’ll need improvement to turn the tables in the American Oaks.

#3 Closing Remarks finished between Going Global and Fluffy Socks when second in the Del Mar Oaks. She subsequently failed to fire when shipping to Keeneland for the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Presented by Dixiana, finishing sixth by a wide margin, but Closing Remarks is eligible to rebound while returning to California. During the spring, she finished less than a length behind Going Global in both the China Doll Stakes and Providencia Stakes.

Trainer Michael McCarthy has entered a quartet of fillies in the American Oaks, with #4 Nicest arguably the best of the lot. Formerly based in Ireland, where she ran third in the Group 1 Juddmonte Irish Oaks, Nicest has shown promise in her first two stateside starts. After rallying to finish fourth in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, Nicest improved to run third against older rivals in the 1 3/8-mile Grade 3 Red Carpet Handicap at Del Mar, beaten only half a length.

Nicest has repeatedly run well over distances equal to or longer than the American Oaks, so she shouldn’t have any trouble negotiating 1 1/4 miles on Sunday. Throw in the presence of Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, and Nicest is a mid-range longshot well worth supporting.

Depending on how much budget you have to spend, we have a couple of suggested wagering strategies for the American Oaks. Both involve keying Going Global on top while emphasizing Fluffy Socks, Closing Remarks, and Nicest underneath.

Wagering Strategy on a $15 Budget

$5 exacta: 5 with 1,3,4 ($15)

What to say at the betting window: Santa Anita, 11th race, $5 exacta 5 with 1,3,4

Wagering Strategy on a $30 Budget

$5 exacta: 5 with 1,3,4 ($15)

What to say at the betting window: Santa Anita, 11th race, $5 exacta 5 with 1,3,4

$2.50 trifecta: 5 with 1,3,4 with 1,3,4 ($15)

What to say at the betting window: Santa Anita, 11th race, $2.50 trifecta 5 with 1,3,4 with 1,3,4

 Good luck, and enjoy the race!