Oaklawn Park Racing Preview – 1/28/22 – By Eric Solomon


There’s a nine race card to start the week of racing at Oaklawn Park. It’s not the strongest card this afternoon, however, there are some interesting betting races with some vulnerable favorites. The 8th race is the featured allowance with a full field of 12 horses, many of which have been running in stakes company. 


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



Race 1:

The week starts off with $20K maiden claimers going six furlongs. I don’t love this race, as most of these runners with experience have never come close to winning. I’m going to try the lone firster, Blame George (#7) here. Trainer Jeff Metz is 0-3 at this meet, but he won with 12% of his starters in 2021, and two of the 14 starters that he debuted in maiden claiming company. His works are decent, most recently running four furlongs in 47:4. I don’t love that he’s entered for $20K and was purchased for $35K, but he’s a four year old gelding facing some horses that have shown little on the track. On deeper tickets, Osiyo (#2) debuted with fellow Oklahoma breds at Remington back in November. Lynn Chleborad is still looking for her first win of the meet, but her horses do tend to improve in their second starts. Freer (#9) is the likely favorite and the most accomplished runner in the field. He was claimed for $30K in November at Churchill, and now makes his first start for Thomas Van Berg in a $20K maiden claimer, which is not a move I love. He may be better than these, but there’s enough question marks to try to beat him. Terawatt (#5) was a $300K purchase in 2019, but he sure didn’t run like one in his two races on the track this spring. He’s been away since May, and has been gelded since his last start. None of this inspires a ton of confidence, but he certainly has a class edge over the other eight. 


Race 2:

We have a full field of $10K N2L claimers going six furlongs in the race that kicks off the early Pick-4. This is one of two mandatory races on the card used in the NHC tournament this weekend in Las Vegas. California shipper, Honorary Degree (#8) feels like the one to beat while making his first start for new trainer, Federico Villafranco. He misfired at Los Alamitos last month when facing stiffer company. He drops in class here and if he can run back to his race at Del Mar two back with $16K-$14K N2L claimers, he should find himself in the Winner’s Circle. Violent Gigi (#2) is another class dropper that is looking to rebound off a bad effort. He made his first start since September last month, when he ran in a salty $40K starter allowance contest. He was done early, finishing last of eleven that day. He has other races in his past that would put him right there with these. On deeper tickets, Holding Pattern (#10) is trending forward in a race where many are headed in the wrong direction. He’s been a disaster at the starting gate in many starts though, so I’ll demand value before investing too much in him. If Lopez can get him to break clean, he could spring the upset at this level.


Race 3:

The current form for many in this multi-conditioned $10K claimer is not the greatest. Tapalong (#3) feels like the one to beat here, coming off a solid effort off the layoff when facing open $10K claimers a few weeks ago. Her form was up and down last year in Illinois, but her last race indicates that she might have needed that break to overcome the funk that she was in toward the end of the summer. She was a six length winner here last season when facing $10K N2L claimers back in March. Field Daisey (#1) feels like she’ll present my top choice the biggest challenge here. She was a solid second with $15K N3L claimers at Sam Houston two weeks ago, making the lead before being caught in the last few strides. She is 0-3 on this course, but all three starts came against significantly better rivals. 


Race 4: 

We’ve got another tricky $20K maiden claiming contest where the favorite feels vulnerable. Autostrada (#5) ships in from Monmouth off the layoff and drops from maiden special weight company for the first time. She appears to have been a private purchase as she was recently campaigned by Chad Brown for Peter Brandt. She was originally a $375K purchase and ran four times earning a mere $10K on the track. She makes her local debut with a soft group off some average local workouts. I’m not sold on her as a real contender here, so taking anywhere near 3-1 isn’t for me. I’m content to let her beat me if I’m wrong, since betting favorites like this over the long term is a losing proposition. I ended up with My Coralena (#1) on top, making her second start since being claimed at this level by Cody Retsin last month. She stretches out to two turns for the first time, despite running a race at this distance this summer against a sharp field at Colonial.  Her dam was a stakes winner at two turns at Delta, and she’s sired by Exaggerator, so I expect her to be able to get the distance. Alita (#6) ran her best career race in her only two turn start on the dirt two back at Indiana Grand. Since then, she was moved to Rob Atras, who dropped her for a tag in a six furlong race last month at Aqueduct. He brings her here and drops her from $40K maiden claimers, while employing the leading rider, Ricardo Santana Jr. I think she may end up as the post time favorite, so value will determine how much/little I’ll invest in her. I think the morning line 7-2 figure feels fair, but I’m not convinced we can get that price. Ipsum Gratus (#2) comes in off a strong effort at Churchill at this level last out. The winners of that race came back to win in her first try against winners in their next starts. She had a rough journey in her only two turn race when facing $15K maiden claimers at Keeneland two back. I’ll give her another shot while routing here. 


Race 5: 

The favorites in this multi-conditioned $16K state bred claimer feel like a reasonably safe wager. J.E.’s Handmedown (#4) is the morning line favorite at 5-2, but I suspect the post time favoritism will go to Heritage Park (#11). I prefer J.E.’s Handmedown here, while looking to rebound after blowing the break in his return to his favorite track. He’s won all four of his career victories here and has only one on the board finish in 12 starts outside of Oaklawn (where he’s hit the board in 13 of 20 starts overall). He was competitive with better last season, and just missed with open Arkansas bred claimers at the end of the meet last year. He was overmatched when facing better fields at Indiana Grand and Canterbury this summer and fall. I expect him to turn it around with this group. Heritage Park is coming off a total clunker with optional claiming/starter allowance company last out. He ran a solid race off the layoff two back and now drops to face a considerably softer group. Better track conditions and the class relief should equate to a better showing from him here.


Race 6:

There’s only seven entered in this $10K starter allowance for fillies and mares going one mile, however there’s not much separating the top four here. I ended up using Texas Rain (#4) and Absolute Love (#5) on the A line, giving the slight edge to Texas Rain. I feel like there’s not a ton of pace signed on for this race, giving this duo the tactical advantage over both Jazzy Lady (#1) and Lea Ro (#2). Texas Rain was very sharp in her two turn dirt races at Remington back in December of 2020. She ran okay at Arlington this summer on the turf and synthetic, but her best efforts have come on the main track. She’s in her third race off the layoff and she’s dropping in class after going off at 58-1 against a solid allowance field last month. Absolute Love threw in a clunker last out when stretching back out to two turns. She was favored against a better field that day, but struggled mightily, finishing last of ten. She drops in class to a level where she was a winner two back at Churchill. I’d expect her to rebound here. Jazzy Lady doesn’t have a ton of tactical speed, but her lone dirt race was a strong effort, winning easily with a softer group at Churchill. I think she has a shot, but I think it will be hard to overcome a slow pace here if that scenario develops. Lea Ro has shown a little more early foot in the past, but not as much lately. She was claimed out of her last and now runs for John Ortiz, who has had many live runners at the meet so far. Her bullet work last week at four furlongs could indicate that they’re trying to get her to be more aggressive in the early stages. 


Race 7: 

Four of the eleven entered here are entered for a tag that is significantly lower than their purchase price. To make things more complicated, seven of the eleven are stretching out to two turns for the first time. I’m not buying Winterwood (#9) here, stretching out and dropping in class. He was a $400K purchase for the same connections that are campaigning the four Baffert three year olds in stakes races this weekend. My guess is that he was with Baffert at one point, but was transferred to Brisset before he ever ran a race, suggesting that Baffert didn’t have a high opinion of him. He’s sired by Maclean’s Music, whose runners typically perform better in one turn races, so I’m going toss him and hope to get value elsewhere. I ended up with Mesmerized (#11) on top, in hopes that he’ll be able to work out a trip from his wide draw. I do believe he’ll improve at two turns, being a son of Cupid. He ran okay in his debut in the slop, gaining on the second place finisher as the winner was drawing off. I’ll give him a shot today on a dry track. Oiler (#5) had the misfortune of running into Dash Attack last time out, when trying two turns for the first time. I would have liked to see him fight to stay on a little better, but perhaps if he had, he wouldn’t be in for a tag today. His effort two back at Churchill was solid when beaten by the recent winner of the Lecomte Stakes, Call Me Midnight. He’s certainly been keeping better company than any of these, so the class relief will be welcome. Group Eighteen (#6) was shuffled back a bit when catching a muddy track last time out, while also moving back to the maiden special weight level. This $50K maiden claiming level feels like it’s more his speed. I think he has enough tactical speed to work out a nice trip while also getting back on a fast track. I think he’s trending upwards and is worth including in the multi-race wagers. On deeper tickets, I’ll add second time starter, Scotch No Rocks (#2). He didn’t show much in his debut, sprinting against a solid maiden special weight field. Arrieta retains the mount for Hartman while stretching out. He should be closer to the pace today while drawn inside. If his odds go over 12-1, I’d be more inclined to take a shot.


Race 8: 

The featured allowance race today offers a twelve horse field where seven of the runners were competing in stakes company in their last two starts. This is also the second and final mandatory NHC race from Oaklawn. Brad Cox looks to be holding a pair of aces in here, but I really like Shared Sense (#1) to get the job done for him. He looked like he needed his last at the Fair Grounds when he was a wide 4th, beaten by Chess Chief in the Tenacious Stakes as the favorite. He was a decent third when beaten by Knicks Go and Independence Hall in the Lukas Classic two back. He’s a two time Grade 3 stakes winner, dropping to allowance company today. He draws well in this full field and gets Rosario to ride him. Warrior’s Charge (#11) came up empty in the Tinsel Stakes here last month in mud, faltering late to finish 4th. He has a few solid works since and this feels like a logical spot to gain some confidence for him. He has a decent record on the track, but you have to go back to the spring of 2020 to find his last victory. The wide draw is less than ideal for him though. He fits from a class perspective, but I prefer his stablemate, especially if that one goes to post at longer odds.


Race 9: 

The nightcap today is for Arkansas bred maiden special weight fillies going six furlongs. Dancin N Thepulpit (#8) debuted here last month with state bred $40k maiden claimers and ran a strong second that day. There’s not typically a huge class difference between that level of competition and this state bred maiden allowance level. Plus that was an above average race for the maiden claiming condition. I think she can build off that effort to be a factor with this group today. Tom Swearigen has been live with his runners that have come in from Illinois this meet and he sends out Summer Shoes (#11) to make her second career start. She was a little green when facing open maiden allowance company at Hawthorne in October, but she closed well there to be second, beaten only a length. She has a few decent works over the track here and certainly looks like she fits with these. Punchy Girl (#1) has finished second and third in two career tries at this level. She draws the rail today, so she’s kind of committed to winging it on the front end. That was a winning kind of trip earlier in the meet, but the track has played much more evenly over the last few weeks. If she continues to improve, she should be right there with this group. On deeper tickets, I’ll cover with the morning line favorite, Choctaw Charlie (#4). Her 2020 form would be competitive with this group, but her 2021 was a disaster. Her last race signaled that she could be on the improve, but her morning line price of 3-1 feels way too short for me. I need her at 6-1 or better to think about using her as anything else but as a saver.


Favorite Bet Today: Late Pick-5 ($48.00 Ticket, $0.50 Base Wager)

I like the idea of building a ticket around Shared Sense (#1, Race 8). I think his stablemate will take more money in that race, so there should be a little value there. I think we cover all the logical horses in the first two legs of this ticket and then hopefully connect with a price in the 7th and/or 9th where the favorites look very beatable.


Race 5: 4,11

Race 6: 1,2,4,5

Race 7: 2,5,6,11

Race 8: 1

Race 9: 1,8,11

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