With just over two weeks to go, the star-studded cast for the Oaks is beginning to be finalized.
19 entries remain in the 1m4f contest, with the best of the three-year-old fillies division descending on the famous Epsom Downs for their tilts at Classic glory.
The three-year should progress further after that run at Newmarket and her impeccable pedigree would suggest Santa Barbara would relish the step in trip.
However, she faces a real threat from her own backyard in the form of stablemate SNOWFALL (4/1) who benefitted from her Group 1 experience as a two-year-old to win on her seasonal reappearance at York last week.
O’Brien’s filly showed improvement over the longer distance of 1m2½f, as she made all in the Musidora Stakes at the Dante Festival.
The daughter of Deep Impact saw off two talented contenders in the form of NOON STAR (8/1) and TEONA (8/1), winning comfortably by 3 ¾ lengths.
Snowfall could relish the extra distance on the Downs and could be a real threat to Santa Barbara here.
ZEYAADAH (8/1) looks like an exciting prospect from Roger Varian’s yard, with the Shadwell recruit catching the eye in the Cheshire Oaks at the beginning of the month.
Conceding 3lbs to the winner, the previously unbeaten juvenile showed her class in the final stages as she narrowed the distance between her and DUBAI FOUNTAIN (10/1) to a length, claiming second in difficult circumstances.
It is questionable whether she will be able to stay the full 1m4f distance at Epsom, but she is one to watch out for in this contest.
SAFFRON BEACH (16/1) ran a cracker to claim second in the 1000 Guineas for Jane Chapple-Hyam and William Haggas’ SEA EMPRESS (20/1) can be forgiven for a poor showing on her seasonal reappearance after losing her right-fore shoe.
SHALE (25/1) will be aiming to reproduce her two-year-old form and will likely run in the Irish 1,000 Guineas beforehand, while Martyn Meade holds hope that TECHNIQUE (40/1) could build on her second in the Listed Blue Riband Trial at Epsom back in April.
SHERBET LEMON (33/1) produced a bold effort at big odds to land the Oaks Trial at Lingfield, while second SAVE A FOREST (40/1) and fourth DIVINELY (50/1) holds entries to the Classic as well.
With the two-week countdown beginning on Friday, the Oaks is beginning to shape up into a wide-open affair on the Epsom Downs.