Can Fabiola take out this year's Oaks? Fabiola is seen here ridden by Blaike McDougall wins the CA Sinclair Pork Wholesalers Maiden Plate at Benalla Racecourse on October 25, 2021 in Benalla, Australia. (David Thorpe/Racing Photos)

She might be massive odds for the Kennedy Oaks, but one thing is almost certain about the three-year-old filly Fabiola – she’ll get the 2500m of the Group 1 race at Flemington.
Trained at Cranbourne but father and daughter training team, Ken and Kasey Keys, Fabiola is by 2013 Victoria Derby winner Polanski (Rakti x Citrium) and is out of Danehill mare Fabianska which had five minor placings from 16 starts.
Fabiola was bred by a group of owners, including Polanksi’s majority owner Ross Warner who trained the stallion to the Derby victory, as well as the Group 3 Norman Robinson Stakes (2000m) and the listed VRC UCI Stakes (1800m).
While Fabiola is rated a $150-plus chance of winning the $1 million race, the filly broke her maiden status at her most recent start at Benalla over 2046m when she was sent out as the $2.30 favourite.
Her sire Polanski stands at veterinarian Dr Jacqui McGregor’s Mornington property, Ducks Crossing and has not had the highest levels of support, especially in recent years.
Fabiola was one of 12 live foals produced by Polanski’s 18 coverings in 2017.
Last year he only served four mares.
Another filly to fly the Victorian flag in the Oaks is one of the fancied runners, Willowy.
Bred by Godolphin, Willowy is by Kermadec, who has relocated to Darley’s Victoria base this breeding season.
Trained by James Cummings, Willowy goes into the Oaks on the back of an impressive victory in last Saturday’s Group 2 Wakeful Stakes (2000m).
Willowy’s dam, Dextrous, is a Group 2 winner of the Sandown Guineas (1600m) and has produced another three stakes winners, including the Group 1 winning Skilled.
Cranbourne trainers Robbie Griffiths and Mathew de Kock have a two-pronged attack in the Oaks.
Gonnadancealot (Sir Prancealot x Tresillian) is well over the odds of $100, while Tiz My Bay is around the $20 mark.
Tiz My Bay is by shuttle stallion Cable Bay which stood four seasons at Woodside Park.
According to the bookies, Victorian filly Douceur (No Nay Never x Danalicious) will give Patrick Payne a great chance of winning the race.
Douceur finished third in last week’s Wakeful Stakes. She started at $31 and was beaten just 1.3 lengths. She was bred by Morning Rise Stud at Red Hill.
Widden Stud is represented with two fillies – Daisies and Biscayne Bay. Both are by the late stallion, Sebring.
Daisies, which won the Group 3 Ethereal Stakes (2000m), was beaten by half a length in last week’s Wakeful Stakes.
Victorian bloodstock agent Sheamus Mills paid $250,000 for Daisies at the 2020 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale.
Ken Keys said the Oaks had been the plan for Fabiola for a fair while and wasn’t just a late decision to have a crack at the big race.
He expected the filly to perform better at Cranbourne when she started $2.60 favourite in a 2060m maiden, but she made up for it at her next start at Benalla.
“She was not ideal that day, and she would have gone to the Wakeful, and we would have known better,” Keys said. “But we had to go via Benalla.”
Keys said Fabiola raced a bit fierce but hoped that the addition of ear muffs and a cross-over noseband might get her to race more generously.
“Everyone is going on the form from two races – the Ethereal and the Wakeful. And everything that was in the Ethereal had won their maiden at their last start,” he said.
“What’s the difference?”
While Keys said that the race might turn out to be strong, but on the exposed form, it didn’t look the case.
“Pedigrees come into play now, and we don’t particularly know that side of it,” he said.
“She is by Polanski, and her full brother (Fabulanski) was heading in the derby direction before he wants amiss, so there is the thought process that she might stick it. Fabianski was showing top-end stuff before he went a miss.
“So if the gear changes we’ve made might make her come back a little bit, and obviously she has done a fair bit more work, so we’ll just see.”
Fabulanski was trained to victory in the list Taj Rossi Stakes (1600m).
Keys said they shouldn’t be concerned with the exposed form as most of the opposition had won their maiden over 1600m.
“And the Ethereal seems to be the form line, and the Wakeful, obviously,” he said.
“I think if we get intimidated by what won the Ethereal or what one this or what one that, you’d never run a horse, and that’s basically the way we approach it.
“We go in on a plan, and we have prepared for it. Who knows?
“She is not a bad galloper, I can assure you of that.”
Fabiola’s dam Fabianska (Danehill x Ballet Score) has produced a full brother to Fabulanski from last year’s breeding season.
And Robbie Griffiths predicts Tiz My Bay will go “super” in the Oaks.
Despite still a maiden after eight attempts, the daughter of Cable Bay, out of Tiz My View, finished third in the Oaks Trial (1800m) at Flemington in September; fifth in the Group 3 Ethereal Stakes (beaten four lengths) and sixth in the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes (beaten 2.5 lengths).
“She ran really well at both Caulfield and Flemington, and she has just been a victim of things not quite going 100 per cent right on the day,” Griffiths said.
“Her runs have been very good, so I think she’ll run the distance, and if the breaks come her way, she can well and truly put herself into the mix.
For a lot of the fillies in the Oaks, the big unknown is the 2500m of the race.
“She ran really close to some good fillies the other day, and she is always having to do more work than everyone else because of bad barriers and stuff like that.
“And she has finally got barrier five, which should give her a better run in transit.”