For a long time, the formula for finding the Kennedy Oaks winner was to only look at fillies well in the market who had gone around in the Wakeful Stakes five days earlier.
19 of the 26 editions between 1988 and 2013 were won by horses coming out of the Group 2 Wakeful (2000m), 16 of which started $7.50 or shorter, including 11 favourites.
But the past four years have thrown a couple of curve balls for followers of historical data.
A favourite has not won the Oaks since Kirramosa, who became the most recent of the 35 fillies to complete the Wakeful/Oaks double in 2013. Kirramosa is also the most recent winner to have come through the Wakeful.
Set Square (2014) and Pinot (2017) entered the Oaks off victories in the Ethereal Stakes (2000m) on Caulfield Cup Day and Jameka (2015) won the 2040m Vase at The Valley on Cox Plate Day, while Lasqueti Spirit (2016) came off an unplaced effort in a 2000m Kembla Grange Class 1.
Order is a strong chance to be restored on Thursday, however, with three of the top four in betting coming out of the Wakeful. Aristia ($4.60), Qafila ($8) and Verry Elleegant ($5) are backing up after running first, second and fifth respectively in the 2000-metre Group 2.
The fly in the ointment for the Wakeful brigade could be Amphitrite, who also went around on Derby Day, but in the G1 Empire Rose Stakes (1600m).
The Darren Weir-trained filly had little luck when finishing in 11th position. The Empire Rose into the Oaks is an unusual path, but one taken by 2011 Oaks winner Mosheen, who ran in the 1600-metre event to avoid Atlantic Jewel and cashed in on her absence to win the 2500-metre G1 by nine lengths.
Amphitrite won the G1 Thousand Guineas at her previous start and is striving to become the 18th filly to complete the Guineas/Oaks double, but the first since Miss Finland in 2006.
Nineteen Guineas winners have run in the Oaks in the past 30 years for seven winners.
Largely due to that Group 1 success, Amphitrite will carry the No. 1 saddlecloth in the Oaks, a number that has been carried to victory 10 times in the past 30 years.
A further eight winners have been No. 2, Aristia’s number this year, meaning 18 of the past 30 – or 60 percent – have been numbers one or two.
Further aiding the chances of Amphitrite and Aristia are good barriers – five and four respectively – given only three winners have started from a double-digit alley since the turn of the millennium.
Qafila has drawn barrier 10 and Verry Elleegant, who was Oaks favourite before the Wakeful, gate 13 in the field of 15.
The Verdict: Concentrating on those at $7.50 or shorter, in particular Amphitrite and Aristia after the barrier draw. Given they both come through Derby Day runs, with Aristia through the better-known producer of Oaks winners, she gets the nod.