Oaklawn Park Racing Preview – 1/9/22 – By Eric Solomon

This might be the most challenging card of the meet thus far. There are nine races this afternoon, and many of them are wide open with many chances. If you have a few strong opinions that work out, you’ll likely be handsomely rewarded. After a wet Saturday, expect a drying out track today. Speed was very good yesterday, so that’s something to pay attention to as the afternoon goes on. 

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

 

 

Race 1:

The early pick-5 sequence looks very tricky to me this afternoon. I certainly can’t blame anyone for wanting to go deeper in this leg, but I’ll try to escape using only two horses in this $30K maiden claimer. Drifter (#4) has been knocking on the door of late, just missing in his first two starts at this meet. He’s had a lot of chances, which is a little concerning, however, he seems to have the best early speed of this group, and that was where you wanted to be yesterday on this course. Beeasy (#7) drops after being gelded after a total disaster in his debut. He was up against some fairly solid maidens that afternoon where everyone went wrong for him once the gate popped open. Lasix is also added for this one who deserves a second chance, despite the big drop in class for this $250K purchase. 

 

Race 2: 

I’m not sold at all on the favorite, Madam Pie (#2) breaking from the rail for Steve Asmussen in this $10K maiden claimer. He has some better efforts on turf and synthetic, but I think dirt is his least favorite of the three surfaces. I like second time starter, Moonlight Blaze (#11) for D. Wayne Lukas. This daughter of Daredevil made it to the races for the first time at the end of her four year old season, finishing 7th in a maiden special weight contest at Remington. She drops to the right level of competition where she could move forward. Miss Alpha Bella (#10) didn’t show her typical early foot last out in a foggy mess at this level on 12/17. There’s not a lot of true early speed here and if the track is playing like it was yesterday, she may have an edge with a more aggressive ride. Tiz My Plan (#7) was wide when battling for the lead in her second career start and her first at two turns. She paired some low Beyers, so there’s reason to believe she can move forward in start number three. Smoking Bossa Nova (#8) has one start on the main track at two turns and it wasn’t bad this summer at Canterbury. She’s been off since the end of October so she might need this race, however, it is a significant drop in class in a wide open race. 

 

Race 3:

Fillies and mares that have never won twice, run with a $10K tag here in the third. While a longshot certainly wouldn’t be a shock here, I think the favorites have the most upside of an uninspiring group. While I’ve struggled to be on the right Diodoro horses at this meet, I do like Purrfect Love (#2) in his first start off the claim. She was claimed for $15K when she broke her maiden last out at Churchill. She runs with a $10K tag, but facing winners for the first time, so I can accept that drop. She had a nice work over the track on New Year Eve and looks ready to go here. Fastest Spin (#3) was also claimed for $15K at Churchill when breaking her maiden. She attempted a run with $30K-$20K N2L claimers at Turfway on the synthetic and was 8th, less than four lengths behind the winner, despite breaking slow. She gets back to the main track and drops in class, while trying the main track again. Her only race on a fast track was really good. On deeper tickets, Wicked Street (#9) and Very Spicy (#12) are playable here. Wicked Street was claimed at this level when making her first start off the layoff last out. She showed some speed, before fading gradually to third, despite a solid effort. She had a decent race in her debut in the mud here last season before a handful of very poor efforts. She looked like she was back to the better version of herself, and if she is, I could see another step forward from her. Very Spicy hit the front in that same race at this condition but the winner took over, pulling away late. Her first several races were not good, but her last two starts have been her best by far. 

 

Race 4: 

Another full field and another very challenging handicapping puzzle here. Let’s try for a bomb here with Hoping for a Ring (#7). She’s already notched a victory at this meeting in her third career start and her first race on traditional dirt. She’s got two straight wins, after breaking her maiden at Woodbine in November. She stretches out to two turns for the first time and Chel-C Bailey retains the mount for Norman McKnight. She continues to improve and certainly isn’t the worst stab on a horse listed at 30-1 on the morning line. West Side Girl (#8) was flattered yesterday when the horse that handily defeated her in optional claiming/allowance company last month, Coach, came back to win the Pippin Stakes. She drops to optional claiming/starter allowance company, where she’s entered for the $15K tag. She’s a two time winner on this track and a logical player who will likely be a short price. Kalalou (#11) at 20-1 seems like good value, especially in the vertical exotics. She’s six for eight on the board at Oaklawn and making her first start after being claimed by Lynn Chleborad. She was caught late after running a solid race off the layoff. She makes her second start since May and still looks like she can run. Persisto (#6) is another feisty veteran mare who won that race that Kalalou is coming out of. She seemed to like the local course, getting the win in her first local start. She makes her first start off the claim as well in this spot. 

 

Race 5: 

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the second start for Where’s Randy (#6). He ran second in his debut at this state bred maiden special weight level last month. He broke from the rail that day and had a pretty miserable run, where he was blocked most of the way. He sure looked loaded throughout the stretch that day, but never really was able to get through. I would have made him a sure fire single in this race, however, the presence of Ev’s Sherman (#2) here scares me. His connections thought highly enough of him to enter him in open maiden special weight company last month. He was 6th that day, beaten less than five lengths behind a nice Brad Cox colt, Back to Normal. The Beyer figure came strong from that performance and he faces a significantly softer group for his second career start. 5-1 on him is likely a pipe dream, as I would expect him to go in the starting gate as the favorite. 

 

Race 6:

The wide open racing continues with another puzzling race with a large field. I’ll try to beat the shorter priced Pinson (#6) here. He’s been a tremendous horse winning 13 of 68 races in his career. However, his record here is only 1 for 15, meaning that he is 12 for 53 everywhere else. Remington invader Tashkent (#7) comes in on a three race win streak. Like Pinson, he doesn’t have a great record on this track, but he has been competitive here. Lately, he’s shown more tactical speed than he did when he was racing here last season. If he can show that today, he’ll be more dangerous at this level.  Ricardo Santana has been riding very well at this meet, and his ride yesterday on Coach in the Pippin Stakes was brilliant. He gets the mount on this 10-1 shot here. I don’t anticipate him going off at odds that high, but I think he’s very playable around 5-1. Ego (#3) is another horse that has some tactical speed in past races, however, his wide draw last out caused him to have to come from last on a track where closing was not an easy task. He gets a better post today and hopefully a better trip. Colosi (#5) was wide and flat when facing a deeper starter allowance field last out. He drops in class a bit and should get a course that is a little bit drier than what he raced on three weeks ago. He’s consistent and should benefit from having the race over the track. Gambler’s Fancy (#2) is one to think about on deeper tickets in his second race off the layoff. He ran an even 4th in the slop in a one turn mile race at Churchill last time out. He ran several good races at this track last season and should be primed to improve. Closers struggled yesterday, but if they are having an easier time making up ground in the earlier races today, I’d definitely upgrade his chances. 

 

Race 7:

It’s going to be hard to defeat Sarah Harper (#2) in this allowance race. She’s been very good in four career starts. She faded late in her local debut at this level. This field does have a decent amount of early speed signed on, but there’s less depth than the group that defeated her on the 12/12. It was very hard to make up ground on this course yesterday, and if that trend continues today, she certainly seems to have the edge here. Break Curfew (#4) is the one best suited to make up ground if closers are having an easier time getting home today. She was too far back in the same race as Sarah Harper is exiting, and she never really threatened. She closed well two starts back at Churchill to get up late for third. If she can sit a little closer in the early stages, like she did when clearing the N1X condition this summer at Ellis, she’ll stand a much better chance with this group.

 

Race 8: 

The first race of the year on this track at the 1 Mile and 3/16 distance features a stakes quality field. Trident Hit (#8) really upped his game when racing here last season after shipping in from the Fair Grounds. He was a bit dull last out as the heavy favorite in stakes company at Remington. He’s shown the ability to rebound off of performances that were below his best. Night Ops (#4) is the morning line favorite and the likely post time favorite, but he hasn’t won in a while. He’s been on a steady diet of stakes races, so this will be a bit of class relief. I do think he’ll be in a good spot, just off the early speed of Huge Bigly (#5) and My Sixth Sense (#6). He has the ability to get this longer distance and should run a better race this afternoon. On deeper tickets, Huge Bigly is one to think about. He ran two very good races at Churchill with allowance types this fall. He faltered badly in the slop three weeks ago in the Tinsel Stakes. If My Sixth Sense doesn’t go, he could be the lone speed. He was very dangerous in that role two starts back at this distance, and if there’s a speed favoring track, we know he can get brave.

 

Race 9: 

A maiden special weight race for four year olds and up closes out the card. Brett Calhoun has two that are very live here. I prefer his longer priced runner, Victory March (#9). He’s a son of Maclean’s Music that his connections paid $210K for at the Keeneland September Sale back in 2019. It took him a while to get to the track and when he did, he broke slow and finished 6th in a fast heat here last month. He has worked considerably faster than his more accomplished stablemate, Go West (#5), who ran big off a long layoff in the same maiden special weight race last out. He’ll be very tough to beat if he can run back to that race, but he’ll likely be a short price to do so. Taxit (#7) debuts for Asmussen and Santana off some decent Am drills over the local course. These connections have started to heat up since they’ve reunited. On deeper tickets, Invariably (#4) is worth a look if he looks good on the racetrack and in the paddock. He was foaled by Sweet Catomine, who was the champion two year old filly in 2004 after winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Her other foals haven’t been very successful, but this son of Union Rag has some decent drills for Jerry Hollendorfer. If the price is right, at 10-1 (ML) or better, he could be worth a flyer. 

 

Favorite Bet Today: Race 4 Exacta/Trifecta Box ($48)

I don’t have a great feel for the multi-race sequences on this card, so I’m hoping to have some success in the 4th race, where there are two longshots, Hoping for a Ring (#7) and Kalalou (#11) that both feel like they have a legitimate shot. 

 

Tickets:

$2 Exacta Box 6-7-8-11 ($24)

$1 Trifecta Box 6-7-8-11 ($24)

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