Oaklawn Park Racing Preview – 1/16/22 – By Eric Solomon

The last card of the week is not the strongest card, as six of the nine races are for either maiden claimers or restricted claimers this afternoon. However, as has been the case all meet, the field size is strong, with 97 horses entered, and an average field size of 10.3 starters per race (Not including the also-eligibles). One of the stories of the week at Oaklawn was the return of Joel Rosario, riding his first races in 2022. After two days, he’s only found the Winner’s Circle once, but he has seven mounts this afternoon, some of which seem live. 

 

I’ll be covering this exciting meet on the ITM Blog, along with posting some updates and thoughts from time to time on Twitter @EricSolomon718. Feel free to reach out!

 

Race Top Pick A B C Exotics Menu
1 5 4,5 1 DBL, PK5
2 11 2,3,11 7 DBL, PK3, PK4
3 5 5,6 9 DBL, PK3
4 7 1,7 8 DBL, PK3
5 2 2 1,3 DBL, PK3, PK5
6 5 5 4,7 DBL, PK3, PK4
7 13 10,13 4,12 9 DBL, PK3
8 2 2 4 7 DBL
9 6 6,9 10

 

 

Race 1:

The day starts off with an optional $50K claiming/$50K starter allowance race at one mile on the main track. I’m looking for a rebound effort from Aquitania Arrival (#5) stretching back out to two turns. He ran a dull 7th in the mud here when facing a strong group of optional claiming/allowance types. He was very sharp in the Zia Park Juvenile two starts back when made the lead, but just yielded late that day. He’s in this race for the tag for the first time here, which doesn’t concern me much as he’s already earned five times his purchase price on the racetrack. Requisition (#4) struggled with starter allowance foes when cutting back to a six furlong sprint last out. He was a solid winner two back at this one mile distance when breaking his maiden here on opening day. He was progressing nicely to that point, so I feel his recent regression could have been attributed to the weather or the shorter distance. I think he fits at this level and should improve getting back to a two turn race. Brody’s Streak (#1) will definitely take attention at the windows off his big Beyer when beating $25K maiden claimers last out at Remington. He was claimed by Alex Hartman who was 0-3 with horses first off the claim last year (he only started 34 horses in 2021). He has decent speed from the rail and leading rider Francisco Arrieta takes the mount, all of which are positive signs. However, I’m not willing to take a very short price on him while facing winners for the first time, especially while also making a decent jump up  in class. 

 

Race 2:

There’s an interesting conundrum in this second race, which is a $20K maiden claiming race for Arkansas breds. The pedigree of Starr’s Mischief (#7) jumps off the page, as you don’t see too many Arkansas bred horses sired by Into Mischief. Her trainer, John Prather has had success with debut runners, winning with two already at the meet. He scored with a 40-1 first time starter with open maiden claimers yesterday, Funtimegirl. The works for this one are average at best though, and the question for me is why is this gelding entered for a $20K tag? The current stud fee for Into Mischief is $250K, however, Into Mischief covered the Badge of Silver mare, Pobeda, in 2017 when his stud fee was $75K. There’s definitely an interesting story here with this pairing, as this gelding was an August foal in 2018 (making him less than three and a half years old at the moment). The mare ran six times that I can find back in 2013, never hitting the board at Delaware, Keeneland, or Mountaineer. She continued in 2014, with her best effort being a second place finish in a maiden claiming race at Calder. I can’t find any other races for her again until 2017 when she returned at Mahoning Valley and Belterra for two poor performances for two different trainers in the spring before being bred to Into Mischief, presumably that summer. The pairing with Into Mischief strikes me as bizarre at the time, and certainly expensive, knowing that the mare never showed much talent on the track. Now her lone foal to make it to the track is debuting with a $20K price tag. All of this is not adding up to me. I’m not sure what kind of attention he will or won’t take at the mutuel windows, especiallly after the bomb that Prather hit with yesterdfay. He’s listed at 6-1 on the morning line, and I could see that number going up or down, but my plan is to try to beat him and possibly cover him on some deeper multi-race bets.

I ended up with Bellamys Roan (#11) as my top pick here in his second race off the layoff. He returned with a dull try with state bred maiden special weight runners on opening weekend, finishing a dull 9th that day. He drops in for a tag today after showing some ability on this course last season. I think he’ll put forth a more honest effort with this softer group. Twisted Dixie (#3) is exiting the same race as Bellamys Roan, and he finished much better than he did that day. However, this five year old gelding has had many chances to break through. He makes his 16th career start today, and his first in a while at this level. He just missed in April at this level, and was knocking on the door with open maiden special weight types at Canterbury this summer. I’ll play him, but I’ll need coverage, especially if he goes off at or near his 5-2 morning line. In my eyes, Coincidental (#2) is the first time starter that is more likely to get the job done on debut. Ron Moquett trains this modestly bred gelding who has been working well enough to possibly figure at this level.

 

Race 3:

$30K N3L claimers go one mile here. I’m going to try to beat both Big Thorn (#3) and Catholic Guilt (#8), both of whom I think will take some money at the windows. Big Thorn is going two turns for the first time in his career and doing so off a three month layoff. I’m not sold on this son of The Big Beast at two turns and I think he’ll be overbet, with Rosario aboard for Asmussen. Catholic Guilt ran a monster race over this course in the mud last month, but I’m not convinced he can duplicate that career top in his second race off the layoff. Looking at his overall body of work, I think it’s more likely that he would bounce. Speed has been good in two turn races at this meet, and I think Eastside Cool (#5) has the best early foot of the group. He was claimed two back at this level by Joe Sharp over at Churchill. He came back in a sprint here with starter allowance company and ran a troubled trip 4th. He’s never won at two turns, but his races at two turns have been with some contested paces that he was a part of. I think if he can get a comfortable lead early on, he’ll be tough to pass in the short stretch of the one mile distance here. Up to this point, there have been only seven winners at this meet that last raced at Remington Park. Four of those seven winners were all dropping from allowance company there to a lesser level of competition here (claiming or state bred). Great Faces (#6) would fall into that category, dropping from N1X allowance company in Oklahoma to N3L claiming company here. He has some solid efforts at this distance, finishing on the board in seven of eight career tries, winning once. He’s only run for a tag once in his 17 race career, and he finished second, losing in a photo that day on this course. He seems like a better priced alternative to some of the shorter prices in here to me, I’m not sure what The Rock Says (#9) has left in the tank, but I think we’ll get a better idea after this. He was claimed off Diodoro by Tom Swearingen, who only won with 6% of his starters in 2021. He is off to a much better start at this meet though, winning 3 of 10 races so far. The horse has only one off the board finish, which came back in 2019 with N1X allowance company at Saratoga, while still earning one of the higher speed figures in his career. He gets back to two turns after returning from a 15 month layoff last month, in a six furlong sprint at this level. I’m not sure what to expect, but if he does improve here, he’ll be tough. 

 

Race 4: 

This is another race where I’m not in love with some of the shorter prices. I’ll take a shot with Fay Dan (#7) in his second race off the layoff for Norman McKnight. Prior to going on the shelf, he had three turf races at Churchill and Woodbine that weren’t very good. Before those races, he had two decent dirt races here and at Churchill, where he broke his maiden. He came back to the main track and caught a very sloppy track last month when facing a considerably better starter allowance field here. He’s getting class relief and could be tough with this group of $30-$25K N2L claimers. One Last Hand (#1) was a 13 length winner in his only two turn race at Indiana Grand two back. He defeated a $16K maiden claiming field that afternoon. Next out, he caught a sloppy track when narrowly missing at Churchill with $20K N2L claimers. He’s certainly trending in the right direction as he moves up a bit in class. He should be able to make the lead from his rail post, which has not been a bad thing at this meet. Beachwalker (#8) is the morning line favorite that is dropping in class. He is definitely a candidate to be closing late here, especially if there is a quick pace. However, he only has one win in 20 career starts, and he hasn’t really been close to winning lately. We have seen a few horses with this profile win at this meet, so he’s worth covering. However, he doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence at 3-1. 

 

Race 5: 

The parade of restricted claimers rolls on, this race for horses running six furlongs at a $30K-$25K tag, who have never won three times. Molto Vivace (#2) looks very tough in this race, dropping in from allowance company and running with a tag for the first time in his career. When assessing the drop in class, he’s a horse that has earned $138K in his career, over two and half times more than his $50K purchase price. He was 18-1 with that allowance group where he finished midpack, so this is probably the right level of competition for him. He returned off a layoff with a respectable effort in the mud last month with allowance foes. Rosario, who will be the 7th different rider for this horse in his 7th career start, picks up the mount in his second race off the layoff for Asmussen. He ran very well at this meet last year, so we know he likes the local course. I’ll be singled to him on the majority of my multi-race bets. There are several in here that ran a dull race on a wet tack last out. There was rain Saturday, so what the track will look like today is a question mark. However, if the track is drying out, both Ride Richie Ride (#1) and Sag Harbor (#3) could be longshots that I’d use underneath or add to some deeper tickets as savers. Ride Richie Ride was running very in Illinois bred allowance races at Hawthorne before throwing in a clunker with allowance types in the slop here on New Years Day. I’d be willing to give him another shot at this level at 15-1 or better. Sag Harbor was claimed two back by Randy Matthews at Indiana Grand. He was wide and dull at this level in the mud on 12/18. He’s drawn closer to the rail today and may improve off that effort. Matthews has struggled at the meet, not hitting the board with his first 13 starters, however, he’s a solid trainer that won 15% of his races last year. At 20-1 or playable, he is also interesting. 

 

Race 6:

A $50K starter allowance starts the last Pick-4 of the week at Oaklawn. If Herd Immunity (#5) can pick up where he left off in California, he’ll be very tough here. He’s been a popular claimer out west, most recently being claimed by Richard Baltas. He brought him here after the Del Mar meet ended and he’s had some time to settle in, showing up on the local work tab four times since 12/21. His Beyer figures have improved in his last seven dirt starts, so he’s definitely trending in the right direction. Baltas was only one for nine off the claim in 2021 and he is moving up in class as well, so I’ll be looking for a little coverage here. All The Diamonds (#7) is the logical alternative after rallying late to finish a close 5th at this level last month. He typically likes to be forwardly placed, but he found himself last out ten down the backstretch, chasing a quick tempo last time. Perhaps that trip was by design while making his first start for Mike Maker off the claim that day. I think Santana will be a little more aggressive with him in the early stages today. U.S. Steel (#4) got over the track nicely in his local debut last month. Diodoro plucked him for $30K out of that race from Wayne Potts and now has entered this ten time starter in a protected spot. If can run back to his last for his new connections, he’ll be another tough customer here. 

 

Race 7:

He’ll need a defection to participate, but Hellephant (#13) returns after a strong performance in his debut with $40K maiden claimers here last month. Drifter, who beat him that day, came back to beat $30K maiden claimers last weekend. This large field is definitely deeper than that group, but I liked the tenacity he showed at first asking, and the wide draw should be advantageous in his second career try. El Potente (#10) is an intriguing Southern California invader for Rene Amescua. He showed some zip last out with similar at Del Mar in his second career start and his first on the main track. He cuts back to six furlongs, which should help his cause here. Camargo (#4) stretches out to six furlongs after a tough trip in a useful $150K maiden claimer at Churchill last out. The first and second place finishers came back to win their next starts. Lasix is added for him after pairing his Beyers in his first two tries. I’d upgrade him to the A line if Hellephant is forced to scratch. Amity Road (#12) debuts for Brad Cox after a long string of steady workouts. He’s a Street Boss homebred, so this spot seems like a logical place to debut for this outfit. I don’t love the 7-2 (ML) price, as I think the experienced runners offer a little more, but he’d be hard to completely toss. Another first timer that might be worth watching the toteboard on is Doctor Love (#9) for Allen Milligan. He’s 12-1 on the morning line, but I think a lot of people will look to his eye-catching 47 flat bullet  work on 12/27. His other works were unusually slow though, so I’m not completely sure what to make of this son of Cairo Prince that only fetched $2,500 at the Fasig-Tipton October sale in 2020. If he gets some play and looks good on the track, I’d upgrade his chances. If he’s cold on the board, I’d likely pass. 

 

Race 8: 

Arkansas bred optional $40K claiming/allowance runners take the spotlight this afternoon in the featured race on the program. I like Siouxper Charger (#2) quite a bit here, especially at his 5-1 (ML) figure. He enters this race in very good form, beating state bred optional claiming/allowance foes here two weeks ago. He was an even 5th against a better group at this level last month, but was promoted to 4th via disqualification. I think his current form carries him over others that might not be at their best. If K J’s Nobility (#4) is at his best, this race might be over once the gate springs open. He won the Nodouble Breeders Stakes race here in 2020, but has gone winless in his six strats since. However, many of those races came against some runners in open company, losing to horses like Lexitonian, C Z Rocket, and Mucho during that span. He’s been away since March of 2021 when he finished 5th in a race similar to this. He has since been moved to Wesley Hawley, whose horses tend to need a race or two off the bench before they’re at their best. I’ll use him here, but he might be better next out. Man in the Can (#7) beat K J’s Nobility in the Arkansas Breeders Championship race here on closing day in 2020, as a three year old taking on older horses. He went on to beat a nice field of first level allowance horses in open company at Churchill, which was enough to take a swing with him in the Blue Grass at Keeneland that July. He was last of 13 behind Art Collector that day and has never really been the same horse since. He was chasing Tempt Fate in the Arkansas bred stakes races here last season and just doesn’t seem to have that same fire we saw during the spring of his three year old season. He returned at this level in a disastrous trip race last out. I can maybe give him one more chance, but he’ll be a short price here and he hasn’t run a race that could beat this group in a while. I’ll save him for the deeper tickets. 

 

Race 9: 

Robertino Diodoro and M and M Racing sent out a suspect dropper here on Friday to win handily. Here they send out Leading West (#9) who will likely be heavily favored to win the $16K N3L claiming race that ends the week. He was claimed for $30K back in October at Keeneland and ran three times since with starter allowance company. He just missed with a much better field in starter allowance company last Friday. He’s improving and running solid races, which is why it’s baffling to see him wheeling back and dropping to this level. At least this one makes a little more financial sense as he’s banked $13K in those three starts for M and M. A win and claim here would net about $32K before fees. I’ll use him on the A line, but I’ll include a few others, as I wouldn’t be shocked if he does scratch out of this race. Wartime Hero (#6) was heavily favored at this level last out, but had a tough trip from his outside post when getting a muddy track. He was good enough to beat $16K N2L claimers at nine furlongs at Saratoga in August, so I’d think he’d be eligible to improve under better circumstances. He was bred to be a good horse, foaled by Kentucky Oaks runner up and Grade 2 winner, St. John’s River, and sired by Belmont winner, Empire Maker. I don;t think we’ll get 10-1 (ML) on him, but I do think we’ll get solid value, maybe 5-1 or better, especially with Broberg’s cold start to the meet. Sports Fan (#10) hasn’t won much in his career, but this Remington Park invader is very consistent. Closers haven’t done great in routes at the meet, but a win wouldn’t be impossible for this Remington invader on the drop in class. 

 

Favorite Bet Today: Early Pick-5 ($54 Ticket, $0.50 Base Wager) 

After a brutal beat yesterday in my Pick-3 that started with an $82 winner, I’ll jump right back in early today, and try to tackle the Early Pick-5. I like the idea of trying to beat some shorter prices in the sequence, while singling to Molto Vivace (#2) in the last leg. He’ll likely be a short and logical single there, but I think there could be enough value in the first few legs to make this worth playing. 

Race 1: 1,4,5

Race 2: 2,3,7,11

Race 3: 5,6,9

Race 4: 1,7,8

Race 5: 2

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