Oaklawn Park Racing Preview – 1/2/22 – By Eric Solomon

A very cold day follows a very wet day at Oaklawn, where the high temperature today is only 35 degrees. That’s a big drop in temperature, with lows dipping into the twenties overnight. The track management team will no doubt be tested today. Training was cancelled Sunday morning, but they plan on running this afternoon. Large fields and competitive, wide open races, continue to be the norm for the last card of the week.

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 3 1,3 8 2,4 DBL, PK5
2 8 8,9 13 DBL, PK3, PK4
3 1 1 8,10 DBL, PK3
4 3 3 DBL, PK3
5 2 2,3 11 12 DBL, PK3, PK5
6 4 4,5 DBL, PK3, PK4
7 2 2 1,4,6 DBL, PK3
8 8 8,9 10,11 DBL
9 5 2,5,9

 

Race 1:

A pair of Arkansas bred races start the day today, this one for $30K maiden claiming fillies and mares. The horses with experience haven’t shown much, so I’ll try the Ernie Witt first time starter, Miss Rita (#3). She’s worked well enough in the AM to figure with this field. His numbers with debut runners in maiden claiming races are strong. Half Scout (#1) is coming off a decent try with state bred maiden special weight fillies. She’s shown improvement in her last two races on the main track and now drops to a more appropriate level of competition. Sweetness To (#8) is another first time starter, whose works don’t appear to be that far off from what we’ve seen in the morning from Miss Rita. She hasn’t had as many drills, but the quality is similar and the price on the morning line (15-1) is significantly higher. I think both Run Fearless (#2) and Flirtatious Smile (#4) are horses that will be more dangerous next time out. I suspect both will break their maiden if they stay at this level in future races at this meet. Both are coming off decent layoffs though and both may need this race. They’ve shown enough on the track to consider covering on deeper tickets, as the depth in this field is lacking. 

 

Race 2: 

There’s not much separating the top three in this race, all coming out of a tougher state bred race here last month. Five O One (#13), Souixper Charger (#9), and Heritage Park (#8) crossed the wire 4th, 5th, and 6th respectively that day. Even though he finished behind his rivals that day, I think Heritage Park has the edge here in his second start off the layoff. He made the lead while setting some blistering early fractions when making his first start since July. He came up empty in the final furlong, which could be expected. He’s historically run better races in his second start off a break, and the class relief in here should help his cause. Souixper Charger might not be quite as speedy as Heritage Park, but I think he’ll sit a better trip today after getting shuffled a little farther back than he prefers last time out. He had a sharp drill in between races last week, signaling he’s ready to fire. Five O One is the dedicated closer on the group, finishing with interest last out. He’ll need a defection to be able to compete this afternoon. I think the 5 and ½ furlongs might be a little too short for him, but he’s consistent and in good form. 

 

Race 3:

This $20K maiden claimer features some three year olds taking on older horses for the first time this year. I think Motion Picture (#1) might offer some value and could be dangerous when getting back to a two turn race. He finished 4th in his debut at Monmouth going 1 Mile and 1/16 when facing some nice maiden special weight horses this summer. He cut back to seven furlongs when facing a loaded maiden special weight field on the PA Derby undercard at Parx. He dropped in for a tag in his third start, going a one turn mile at Churchill. He had some issues at the break and seemed disinterested afterwards. He drops in class and gets back to two turns, while drawing an advantageous post in this full field. I like him here and the 12-1 morning line price seems like a good price to me. Falcon Heavy (#10) had a similar issue in the same maiden claiming race at Churchill that Motion Picture comes out of. Hius best effort came at two turns at Keeneland two back and he makes his first start off the Diodoro claim today. Rousing Siren (#8) was claimed after a wide journey at this level at Churchill last time. He ran well two back and Genaro Garcia had decent numbers first off the claim.

 

Race 4: 

I’ve been a fan of Joy’s Rocket (#3) for a while now. She’s never finished worse than second in a one turn dirt sprint in her career. That second place was a narrow defeat to Caramel Swirl in the Grade 2 Lexus Raven Run at Keeneland, where she finished in front of some very good fillies that day. She’s a two time stakes winner for Steve Asmussen and she has the ability to make some noise in the filly and mare sprint division this year. She looks very tough to beat in this race so I’m using her as a single.

 

Race 5: 

A full field of $16K claimers that have never won three times ends the Early Pick-5 and starts the Late Pick-5. Pop’s Biscuit (#2) is an unusually consistent runner for a race like this, hitting the board in 10 of his last 11 starts and crossing the wire first in three of them (he was disqualified in one of those races). This Oklahoma bred was third with $30K N3L claimers last out at Remington. He’ll be a threat if he takes to the local surface. At 20-1 (ML) or better, I’m willing to take a chance that Justin’s Quest (#3) can find his Southern California form from 2020. His last start came in April, and it was not good. He returns in a sprint, despite having more success in his career in route races. That does hint that he might need this start before he’s at the best version of his current self. However, he’s run races in his past that would decimate this group. At long odds, I’d be willing to take a chance that he can return to that form today. Opus Equus (#11) is in very good form at the moment, winning two straight, including a rallying victory on this course with N2L claimers last month. The water gets a little deeper again today, but he’s tending in the right direction. Major Attraction (#12) will garner some pari-mutuel interest based on the Diodoro claim. However, he doesn’t seem to love to win though. Perhaps that’ll change for his new barn, and I’ll cover him on deeper multi-race tickets. However, I think there’s value trying to beat him vertically in this race.

 

Race 6: 

Good old Beverly Park (#4) is a neck away from winning ten straight races. He won while leading gate to wire at this $10K starter allowance level last out. He’s won races at Belterra, Thistledown, Keeneland, Churchill, and Oaklawn during this mighty run. He’s a cool horse that continues to race at a high level in these protected starter allowance contests. These races are always salty, and if you can find someone to beat him, the payoffs in the multi-race sequences will be exponentially higher. Hidden Ruler (#5) makes sense as the other one to use in this race. He needed his last when making his first start off a three month layoff. He was in excellent form when he left here and went to Prairie Meadows this summer. He might offer a little more value here, as Beverly Park could wind up being a popular single in the multi-race sequences.

 

Race 7:

A full maiden special weight field starts the last Pick-3 of the week. I’m going to try to beat both Brad Cox first timers in this race and use Mamzooj (#2) on top. He has two very good races at six furlongs with a lousy effort in a very salty field when going seven furlongs at Churchill sandwiched in between. He closed well to narrowly miss on this track last month, when running with Lasix for the first time. If he can run back to that race, I think that will put him in the Winner’s Circle. Both Boat Song (#1) and Miniconjou (#4) are live second time starters here, both at 12-1 on the morning line. Boat Song was very wide in a tough maiden race at Keeneland in October. All in Sync, who struggled late in the Smarty Jones yesterday, came out of that race, and I think he could be a talented one turn horse. Miniconjou has a more modest pedigree than many in here, but he ran pretty well, with a few trouble spots in his debut on this course last month. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a forward move from him. Sky and Sand (#6) is the lukewarm morning line favorite, coming in from New York for Steve Asmussen. He adds Lasix after two respectable on the board finishes behind some solid runners, including Remsen runner-up, Zandon. 

 

Race 8: 

The question in the featured allowance races is what do you do with Full Impact (#10) and Whiskey Double (#11), the morning line favorite and second choice, both coming in off long layoffs? Full Impact looked like a star in the making at the end of 2020, dominating in both of his two Carter starts. He missed all of 2021 though and is just resurfacing now under the care of Brad Cox. His works are decent, but not eye-catching and he faces a solid field here. Whiskey Double ran respectable races when facing the likes of Jackie’s Warrior and Drain the Clock last year. He misfired in his last and had been on the shelf since May. Both are certainly capable and worth covering, but I’ll try to beat them with a pair of in-form runners. Silver Moon Road (#8) has been sharp in main track sprints in Southern California, never finishing off the board in those efforts. He was claimed in his last two starts and ships east for Matt Williams. He’s done well with horses running back off the claim with a limited sample. Chipofftheoldblock (#9) just missed at this level after returning to a sprint. He was in too deep in stakes company at Indiana Grand two back, but he ran better when shipping here. He has five wins and five second in eleven career starts at this six furlong distance. 

 

Race 9: 

There’s several runners in this maiden special weight that cost their owners a significant amount of money. Between Good Luck Charm (#5) and Fan Club (#9), Gary and Mary West have over $850K racing on the track in this race. Both are live as Good Luck Charm makes his second start after an even debut in a 5 and ½ furlong sprint at Churchill. He’s bred to get better on the stretch out, and Moquett has solid numbers with horses in their second career try. Fan Club has been much better in his three, two turn races on the main track. He faced a salty field last out the Fair Grounds when finishing third. This group is not a walkover by any means though, and Geroux will have to navigate a trip from his wide draw. Constitutional Law (#2) has some interesting running lines, starting in a ten furlong maiden special weight race two back and then cutting back to a six furlong sprint in his local debut, while running for the first time for Chris Hartman. He’s bred to get two turns, so it wasn’t a shock that he finished an even 4th when sprinting last out, despite being favored in the wagering. Both of his races at this distance came in the slop in New York and Kentucky. He’s drawn well for this race and certainly could move forward here. 6-1 (ML) is solid value on him in my opinion. 

 

Favorite Bet Today: Early Pick-5

I think Joy’s Rocket (#3, R4) is the most likely winner on the card, and while she’ll be a short price, I think we can get some value with the Early Pick-5. I think there are longshots that have a decent shot in the 1st, 3rd, and 5th races, many of which are wide open.

Main Ticket: ($0.50 Base Wager – $40.50)

Race 1: 1,3,8

Race 2: 8,9,13

Race 3: 1,8,10

Race 4: 3

Race 5: 2,3,11

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