There’s a nine race program at Oaklawn today with some decent field sizes. While there’s not a signature race on the program, there are some good betting opportunities with races where there are vulnerable favorites. First post for the Sunday program is 12:30 (CT).
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|
|2||7||4,7,9||5||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|5||6||6,10||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|6||5||5,7,9||DBL, PK3, PK4|
$10K claimers start the afternoon in a race that feels like it could be chalky. Town Champ (#8) feels like he’s just better than most of these at this point. He has one off the board finish in his last nine starts on the dirt. He just missed with $6,250 claimers last out where he was a voided claim. He moves up in class a bit, but it doesn’t feel like this is a deeper field. Cristian Torres, fresh off a huge afternoon yesterday, picks up the mount. Otis Otis Otis (#1) is the main threat to the favorite, boasting a few monster efforts at Delaware and Parx earlier in the year. His local debut was a disaster, but he’s known for throwing in some clunkers. I can’t ignore him, but it’ll be hard to take a short price on him with his inconsistency.
Fillies and mares sprint six furlongs in this open $6,250 claiming contest. There’s a pair of runners who were both claimed for $20K in their last starts. House Wrecker (#2) and Dawnland (#6) comes in as the heavy favorites, but both feel completely suspect in this race. House Wrecker had a nice run when she was trained by Anthony Farrior in West Virginia and Maryland, but she’s but below average when running for other trainers. Dawnland has two big races, but was awful here last out, Even though Brad Cox claimed her, running her back at this level does little to inspire confidence that we’ll see her best. Further complicating matters here, all nine runners are coming into this race off rather poor efforts. I landed on C C The Bartender (#7) here, feeling that she’s the one that has a visible excuse for her disappointing effort last out. She was facing a better field of conditioned $12,500-$10,000 claimers last out when she had trouble at the break. A horse two stalls over broke in and caused her to take up sharply a few steps out of the gate. She gained ground but was forced widest of all on the turn while making her move. She likes to be closer to the front end and if she can get back to her Remington form, she’d be a contender here. Proud Victoria (#9) is the only runner in the field with multiple wins on this course. She came up a bit short with state bred $10K claimers in her first start in four months in her most recent start. Others might have a higher ceiling at this point, but I do think she’ll improve off her latest try. Hale’s Angel (#4) might be the quickest in the early stages of this one. She was away slow in the same state bred claiming race that Proud Victoria is coming out of. She’s better when she’s dictating the terms, so I’d expect Isaac Castillo to be more aggressive here. Dorita’s Heart (#5) could be the one running on from the back of the pack late. She drops in class after two poor efforts in a row on this oval. She’s probably better suited for the bottom of the vertical exotics, but I could cover with her on a few deeper plays.
I’m on a pair of second time starters in this maiden special weight contest, giving the preference to Dial Toni (#8). Her third place finish behind Adaline Julia in her debut looks better after that one’s strong effort with first level company yesterday. She’s a half to multiple graded stakes winner on the grass, Toinette, so there’s reason to believe that she could improve in her second time out, stretching out to two turns today. Blame the Toll (#7) is a half to Tax, making her second start today. She debuted at the Fair Grounds last month, finishing 5th in a nine horse field in maiden special weight company there. Dallas Stewart hasn’t started many horses at this meet, but the few that he’s brought here have been live. Into Disco (#4) is the morning line favorite, stretching out to two turns for the first time. Her effort this summer at Colonial in her debut on the dirt was strong. Her next two races came in turf sprints , finishing second in her most recent try at Laurel. There are less turf options in general this season, so we’ve seen more horses like this show up at Oaklawn. I’m not convinced she wants two turns, but I’ll cover with her since I don’t believe in many of the others.
Seven of the ten three year olds entered in this $50K-$45K maiden claiming contest are racing with a tag for the first time. I landed on Hard to Come By (#5), dropping in class for Donnie Von Hemel. His local debut was not good, finishing 9th in a field of 12 last month. His routes at Churchill stack up favorably with this group though. Propellant (#4) makes his third career start for Steve Asmussen after a pair of respectable races at Remington to start his career. In an evenly matched field, I like that he’s finished closer to the front than most of his rivals have. Santana taking the mount is another positive. Daryl’s Bolt (#10) is going to need to work out a trip from the outside stall, which hasn’t been the easiest thing to do lately here. He’s started in outside gates in his last two route races on the turf in California. He returns to Chris Hartman where he’ll route on dirt for the first time. He ran into a buzzsaw, facing Loggins, in his only other start on the main track. There’s enough upside here to consider using him, but he might be more effective next time, if he can draw a better post. Caballo Feliz (#1) is the morning line favorite in this race, and another runner with only one career try on the dirt. That race wasn’t bad though, finishing third at Horseshoe Indianapolis. Lasix is added for the first time and the rail draw should help. 2-1 still feels light to me in this race.I’ll cover, but unless there’s a better price on him, I’ll shop for value elsewhere.
Arkansas bred fillies and mares sprint six furlongs in this $30K-$25K N3L claiming race. Run Fearless (#6) feels like the one to beat in this spot. She came back and finished in the middle of the pace in a state bred allowance race last month. She was able to break her maiden with state bred maiden special weight runs at the end of the 21-22 meet in April. She was overmatched in her two starts away from Arkansas. She drops for a tag at the state bred level for the first time in a while and should be tough to beat here. Derby Bay Lassie (#10) figures to be the main threat here. She’s speedy from the gate, so they’ll likely have to run her down. She stopped badly in her seasonal debut in the same allowance race that Run Fearless is coming out of. She started off as a horse that her barn had to have been high on, winning her debut in a state bred maiden allowance race, going off as the 7-10 favorite. Things haven’t panned out as they hoped, and now she’s offered for a tag for the first time. Her Achilles heel has been when there’s been too much competition for the front end. I do think we’ll see a better effort from here at this level though.
The Late Pick-4 starts with a modest $12,500-$10,000 maiden claiming race. Vobiscum (#4) is a red flag dropper for Steve Asmussen. He’s a five year old that cost $125K in 2019. He’s made one start in that span, running 7th in his debut here last year. He’s been on the sidelines again and now shows up, entered with a $12,500 tag. They’re clearly looking to cut their losses, and while he might fit at this level, I’ll look in another direction. Both Little Frappucino (#7) and Shotgun Up (#9) are two other shorter priced runners in search of their first career victory. Little Frappucino has tried 12 times, while Shotgun Up has made 11 starts. They were second and third at this level when they faced each other at this level a few weeks ago. They’re consistent enough to use both, however, I’ll try Strickland (#5) on top in hopes of catching a little value on a horse that is trending in the right direction. He finished third at this level in the mud last month, showing improvement from his previous three starts. He didn’t break well that day, but still ran on well late to get into third. He doesn’t have a ton of early speed, but he was able to still be closer to the leaders last time, in spite of his poor break. There’s reason to believe that he could continue to progress today.
This race carries an interesting condition, being for state bred horses that have started for a claiming price of $30K or less and have never won three races. Randy Morse thought about running Mahomey (#3) in a route race earlier in the week, but opted for this spot instead. I think he fits well with this group, while making his second start of the meet. He was third in the slop with state bred N1X company, and the runner up that day, Bellamys Roan, was the winner of the race N1X on Friday that Mahomey scratched out of. This horse has started nine times in his career and jockey Elvin Gonzalez has ridden him in three of those races, including both of his wins. I believe certain riders connect with certain horses, and that seems to be the case here. I think he can upset this field today. Macho Ronnie (#4) is likely the one that he’ll have to try to run down. He crushed a field of $20K N2L claimers last month as the favorite, while making his first start since August. He was an emphatic winner with state bred $16K maiden claimers last year as well. Chel-C Bailey is likely going to put him out front in a race where there doesn’t appear to be a ton of competition for the early lead. Rolling Fork (#2) was a winner two weeks ago with open $30K conditioned claimers, pulling off a massive 60-1 upset. Kim Puhl brings him back two weeks later in a protected spot where he’s facing state bred foes.He likes the course, winning four of eleven times here and he was running solid races with better company last season. He’s going to be tough if he can keep that momentum going.
I see Major General (#2) as a horse that is a logical single in this $50K-$45K N3X claiming race. He was the winner of the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill as a two year old, which was the last time he was in the Winner’s Circle. He was on the Derby Trail last year, running second in the Grade 3 Lexington in April. He struggled in his next three starts in stakes company, but ran better with allowance types two back at Churchill. He was privately purchased and moved to Chris Hartman’s barn. He ran in a salty allowance race last month where the runner up came back to beat a nice group in his last start. That race came in the slop and he didn’t get the best trip that day. He drops in for a tag for the first time in his career and he has a significant post advantage over the other serious contenders here. I’d be comfortable rolling with him as a single in this spot. I’d cover on deeper tickets with two of the other shorter prices in this race, Cosmo (#8) and Runway Magic (#11). Runway Magic has more tactical speed, so Santana is likely going to have to ask to go early in hopes of avoiding as much ground loss as possible from his outside draw. His consistency is worth noting though as he rarely puts forth a poor effort. Cosmo hasn’t run two turns on the dirt in a while. His last race with starter allowance company was solid, finishing third behind a nice horse (Flap Jack). He comes back for a tag which is $25K more than he was claimed for in California. Everything from this barn is worth paying attention to right now, especially when Cristian Torres is riding.
We’ll wrap up this week with a $12,500-$10,500 N2L claiming race, which drew an overflow field of 14. He’ll need help to draw in, but I see Lapiz Lazuli (#13)as a big player in this spot. He was claimed by Bentley Combs, who has decent numbers first off the claim. He just missed at this level in his last start, losing to Title Shot, who came back to run a strong race yesterday with better company. He’ll make his third start off the layoff as well, signaling to me that he’s capable of improving. Extravagate (#8) and Golden Luna (#4) are going to take a lot of money at the windows, but both are suspicious claim and drop runners. Extravagate has been more consistent, so the claim and drop for Riley Mott, who is still searching for his first local win, is a bit puzzling. Golden Luna was claimed by Diodoro and gets Cristian Torres to ride. They’re connecting at 41% when teaming up here, so it’s hard to discount anything they’re teaming up with. I have doubts about both, it feels like there’s a lot of filler in this race.
Meet Statistics: Top Pick 34/148 (23.0%), $240.40 $1.62 ROI