2020 Ashland Stakes (Keeneland) - Predictions, Betting Odds & Picks

Ashland Stakes Keeneland 2020

“If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick, Venetian Harbor (6/5)”

Post Position and Odds – Ashland Stakes

Check out our predictions and odds for the 2020 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland!

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
R Santana Jr. S Asmussen
J Rosario R Baltas
J Velazquez B Cox
J Ortiz K McPeek
T Gaffalione S Joseph Jr.
6 SPEECH 6/1
J Castellano M McCarthy

When the connections of Swiss Skydiver decided to run their star filly against the boys in the Blue Grass, the complexion of Saturday’s Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland changed in a dramatic way. Suddenly Venetian Harbor and Bonny South became the fillies to beat in the field of six who will line up for the key prep on the road to September’s Kentucky Oaks (G1).

The speedy Venetian Harbor from California should go favored on the strength of her romping victory in the Las Virgenes (G2) and her strong second-place finish behind Swiss Skydiver in the Fantasy (G3).

Bonny South, meanwhile, is a rapidly improving filly from the barn of Brad Cox who looked like a horse of boundless potential while running by her competition last time in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2).

Chief among their competition in the 1 1/16-mile race include Tonalist’s Shape and Speech. The former is a four-time stakes winner shipping in from South Florida, while Speech has finished second to some of the most highly regarded fillies in the nation in each of her last three starts.

Ashland Stakes Race Information

What to watch Ashland Stakes (G1)
Where Keeneland Race Course
When Saturday, July 11 — 4:24 pm Eastern time
How to watch Watch on TVG here!
Purse $400,000

Race Analysis

Venetian Harbor

Speed like hers is always to be respected and in this edition of the Ashland, it might be dominating. A small field without any other horse wanting the lead generally leads to good things for the lone speed, and this impressive daughter of Munnings probably doesn’t need too many advantages anyway. Her lone loss on dirt was in a very good performance when second to Swiss Skydiver. Off that tough race, the lightly raced filly should only improve. I respect her competition in here, especially Bonny South, but it just looks like this race is too well set up for Venetian Harbor. I don’t like to pick heavy favorites, but look for her to control this race from the outset, and move on to the Kentucky Oaks as one of the favorites.

Bonny South

Another daughter of Munnings, she is a deserving second choice off her stylish victory in the Fair Grounds Oaks back in March. Before that, she defeated Shedaresthedevil in an Oaklawn Park allowance race, which now looks a whole lot stronger than when the race was run. Freshened since her breakthrough stakes victory, the Juddmonte Farms homebred might return even more ready to show just how good she is becoming. Having said all that, the Ashland looks more like a means to an end for her rather than the end goal. With the controlling speed of Venetian Harbor, this will be a very difficult spot for her to roll by the field again. I expect her to finish well in a losing effort on Saturday, but then get a much more favorable race set up in the Kentucky Oaks in eight weeks.

Tonalist’s Shape

Will get blinkers on in her search for her seventh win in eight-lifetime starts. While her winning percentage is outstanding, this will be her first race outside of South Florida. Clearly she has some class to keep winning like that, but it was in her toughest test to date where she failed and was nowhere to be seen at the finish. To her credit, she rebounded nicely but now must prove that she can run with grade 1 types. I like others better, but perhaps with the addition of blinkers, she can be the one to give the favorite something to think about early.


They haven’t been afraid to test this one against top competition. Never embarrassed, she hasn’t quite been able to get over the hump against the likes of Swiss Skydiver, Gamine, and Donna Veloce. It won’t get much easier on Saturday, but running pretty well against that sort of competition should put her in with a fighting chance. She has more early foot than the second choice, which could well play to her advantage, provided she is not overly discouraged by the speed of Venetian Harbor. I don’t love her for the win, but you have to respect her chances to hit the board once again.


An improving daughter of Uncle Mo, she comes from the same Kenny McPeek barn as Swiss Skydiver. The confidence they have in her could have helped the decision to send that one to test the boys. Still, this is a very tricky spot for her stakes debut on the dirt. She’s gone back and forth in her short career from turf to dirt, but her most impressive races have come on dirt. She has shown some speed on both surfaces, but not the kind of speed of Venetian Harbor. Perhaps she is getting good right now, but everything in her form still points to be a cut below the best in here.

Alta’s Award

Looks to be up against it on Saturday. After a promising start to her season, she has been well beaten in her last two efforts, including against Venetian Harbor in the Fantasy. Only a sharp change of form in her first race at Keeneland would give her serious hope against this tough group of 3-year-old fillies.

Best Bets for the Ashland Stakes

Here are my plays ($30 in total)

$20 Exacta Venetian Harbor over Bonny South = $20

$10 Exacta Venetian Harbor over Speech = $10

If you’re playing only to win, go with my top pick, Venetian Harbor (6/5).

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Brian Zipse

Expert on Horse Racing

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

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