There’s a ten race card this afternoon at Oaklawn Park, highlighted by the Poinsettia Stakes for three year olds. The track seemed to be a little more fair yesterday with three gate to wire winners, three winners who stalked the pace, and three winners that closed from behind. Keep an eye on the runners coming in from Indiana Grand, as they have won 7 of the last 19 races here. The three Indiana based winners all paid well on yesterday’s card ($16.60, $20.60, $92.20). There are a few that have a live look on today’s program as well.
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||3||1,3||2,7||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|6||6||6||9,14||10,11,12||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|7||6||6||2||DBL, PK3, PK4|
Open $8K claimers start the day off at Oaklawn. Coach Adams (#4) makes a lot of sense in this spot. With the exception of the 6/25 race at Monmouth, where he lost all chance at the break, his races when he’s run for Jerry Hollendorfer, have been very good. He’s got the right running style for the way the track has been playing early on at the meet. I feel like he’s worthy of being a single in The Early Pick-5.
This is a sharp group in a $10K starter allowance race. Beverly Park (#3) has been a beast in 2021. He had his 8 race win streak snapped, when he was caught in the final strides to lose by the narrowest of margins in the slop at Churchill. He will be challenged every step of the way and his regular rider, John McKee is not riding here, however, he’s very tough to ignore in this spot. There should be a lively pace, and the potential for a pace meltdown exists here. The benefactor in that scenario would likely be Alex’s Strike (#1), making his first start since being claimed by Robertino Diodoro. He’s going to add blinkers in hopes of having him be a little closer to the front end in here. Beverly Park was about five lengths better than him at Keeneland two back, but he has run good races on this course and could definitely improve for his new connections. Both One Fit Richie (#2) and Hidden Ruler (#7) are solid starter allowance runners that usually show up. Both will be pressing Beverly Park and both are certainly capable. Both are coming off a layoff though and finding some strong, in form rivals here. I’ll use both on the B line in this spot, as neither would be a surprise if they won, but I feel they both might be more dangerous next time out.
I think Fallen Empire (#2) is interesting in this $20K N2L claiming race at a little bit of a price. He was claimed for $12,500 at Indiana Grand last out, in a race where he was able to set dawdling fractions, before falling to third in a one mile contest. He moves up a little bit in class from that effort while also returning to a sprint race. His sprint form is good enough to hang around at this level. His chances could dramatically improve if another horse in this race puts some serious pressure on Kosher Cowboy (#1) who has been in very good form at Hawthorne of late. He isn’t the strongest of finishers though, so I’d definitely want at least one other horse on the ticket besides him. Latin Casino (#6) got back on the dirt last out at Delaware and ran a solid race with better horses when doing so. He drops out of some competitive allowance races in favor of this spot, which makes him worth respecting.
This is a bit of an odd maiden special weight race as there are some horses that are tough to gauge in here. I ended up trying the Maclean’s Music first time starter, Victory March (#6), debuting for Bret Calhoun. From a pedigree standpoint, he feels like the horse in this field that is best suited to the six furlong distance, and his AM drills at Churchill have been solid. There’s a pair of horses in here with star-crossed pedigrees that haven’t yet lived up to lofty expectations, but could both be trending in the right direction. Constitutional Law (#2) is a half to grade 1 winner Constitution and graded stakes winner, Jacaranda. He was privately purchased after running 5th in a 10 Furlong maiden special weight race at Churchill last month and now runs for Chris Hartman. Hartman and Arrieta have teamed up to win at this meet already. He’s never competed in a race shorter than 1 Mile and 1/16, so that’s a bit of a concern, however, there’s not a ton of depth to this field. Emperador (#9) also comes in from Chruchill, making his first start since September. He’s been gelded since his last race, and in general, he’s been much better since coming to Kentucky and joining Rick Hiles’ barn. He’s another blue-blooded horse that came with high hopes, as this half brother to Grade 1 winner, Violence, was purchased for one million dollars at the Keeneland November Sale back in 2017.
I’m going to roll the dice and try Lamartine (#5) on top in this $40K starter allowance. His last two have simply not been good, facing much tougher horses in Kentucky (Dennis’ Moment, Necker Island, Pneumatic, Shoplifted). There’s no one of that quality in this field, so he may be getting more class relief than anyone else here. His lone start at this distance was a strong win with $50K claimers this summer at Churchill. Jockey Ricardo Santana defeated a short priced Asmussen horse yesterday when Hollis easily defeated the highly regarded Nashville in the featured allowance. I think he has a chance to do the same thing here, as Asmussen sends out Much Better (#2). He’s the speed of the speed in this race. He was brilliant three starts back, beating a nice allowance field at Monmouth in gate to wire fashion. He looked like he was headed back to his better form from his three year old season, but his last two races haven’t been as good. I am willing to forgive his effort in the slop in his most recent try. I don’t love him here, but I respect the connections, and it’s hard to leave a decent speed horse off the ticket on this course at the moment. I have him slotted on the B line, while making Long Term Thinking (#6) my other A horse. I thought Robertino Diodoro was sitting on a big day yesterday, having three horses that felt like likely winners. However, he was shut out with all three, but he’ll get his share of wins at this meet. He claimed this horse, who definitely has some seconditis issues, finishing second in 12 of 17 career tries. He does have three wins and has only finished off the board once in his career, so the consistency is definitely there. He should sit a good trip and be right there in his first start off the claim.
Yesterday, there was an Arkansas bred maiden special weight race for two year old fillies that certainly felt wide open, but was won by a horse that went to post at 7-10 odds (Derby Day Lassie). There are some more horses with experience in this spot, and the one that stands out to me is One Ten Stadium (#6), who is looking to give Ron Moquett his first win of the young meet. He ran a sharp race on debut at Remington in October, finishing a clear cut second behind Chrome Baby in his debut, when facing open company. He gets class relief while moving into the state bred ranks here. He’s sired by Race Day, who was a two time graded stakes winner on this course back in 2015, winning the Razorback and the Oaklawn Handicaps. Mo Choctaw (#14) has the fastest AM drills for John Prather, and is worth considering if he draws in. Some of the horses with experience have run solid races, but haven’t flashed much early speed. If he draws in, He’ll be on the outside, and he might be able to outrun this group into the turn, assuming he can transfer his AM speed into the PM. He could keep on going if he’s good enough. Razo (#9) closed nicely to get up to be second in his debut at Hawthorne with open maiden special weight company on Halloween. Coty Rosin has done nice work with his two year olds with a limited sample. He’s a very logical player here. On deeper tickets, I’ll look to the outside and give another chance to Street Commander (#10) who showed nothing in his debut with a tough field of open maiden special weight runners on the turf at Keeneland. Trainer Al Cates won with his only starter at the meet thus far. Whelen Springs (#11) looks to be the best of the firsters, assuming Mo Choctaw doesn’t draw in. He has the best pedigree in the field, sired by Street Sense out of a Pure Prize mare. Trainer John Ortiz has brought some live runners here so far, winning twice and hitting the board two more times with six starters. Allo Enry (#12) comes in after debuting with open company at Delta. He drew the rail that day, which is tricky in five furlong races there, especially for younger horses. His race wasn’t terrible though, and there’s reason to believe that he can show more in his second time out, while also drawing an outside post.
I like Spa City (#6) quite a bit in here, coming off a restricted stakes score in the mud on closing day at Indiana Grand. He ran very well in Indiana this year, winning all three dirt races there this season. He has improved since being claimed by Tom Amoss, who really does a fantastic job placing his horses. I love his versatility, as he can win on the front end or coming from off the pace, which was the case last out after hopping a bit at the break. I don’t think we’ll get 9-2 (ML) on him, but I think he is the one to beat here. My SIxth Sense (#2) is the one I’ll use as a back up here. He ran into Thomas Shelby at this level last out, who is in very good form at the moment. He was making his first start in three months that day, so he probably needed that race. His race two back in June was very sharp when breaking from a wide post at Churchill. I think he’ll improve in this spot, while likely using his inside draw to go to the front. I’m going to play against the morning line favorite, Sonneman (#3) in my multi-race wagers. He hasn’t been in the Winner’s Circle in over a year. He was facing some solid graded stakes foes earlier in the year, but he hasn’t won in his last four tries with similar foes. He was more forwardly placed in his last start, and Asmussen, who has not been using Santana much lately, keeps him aboard him here. I still think he’ll be left with too much work to do late.
It’s not very creative, but Fan Club (#5) for Florent Geroux and Brad Cox look very tough in this $40K maiden claiming contest. He didn’t run well in a maiden special weight race at a one turn mile at Churchill last month when making his first start since joining the Cox barn. He gets back to a two turn race, which is what I think he wants to do. He has been more tactical in two turn races, and the quick early pace of the one turn mile just didn’t seem to suit him last time. He drops for a tag, which is a disappointment for the West’s, who paid $325K for him at the Keeneland September Sale in 2019. However, this is probably the right level of competition for him and Brad Cox has huge numbers with horses dropping into the maiden claiming ranks for the first time. I’ll put both Brody Boucher (#3) and River Redemption (#4) on the C line, as backups on deeper tickets, and also horses that could add value to the vertical exotics. River Redemption goes to two turns on the dirt for the first after a 4th place finish at 7 Furlongs on the dirt last out at Churchill when facing $50K maiden claimers. He showed some improvement in that start and is now second off the layoff, and Zito has had to start and stop with him at times. I think he’ll be more effective while stretching out. Brady Boucher has two turf sprints in maiden special weight company at Remington in his running lines. He’s stretching out and trying the dirt for the first time here, while dropping in for a tag. There are plenty of unknowns with this one, but he’s been competitive in his first two tries, and if he goes to post at longer odds than his 12-1 morning line, he may be worth a flier in his third career try.
Race 9: The $150K Poinsettia Stakes
The Grade 1 winner of the Arkansas Derby, Super Stock (#4) is back in the inaugural running of this stakes race for three year olds. Asmussen has campaigned this horse nicely, as he’s a $70K purchase that has earned over a million dollars in his 14 race career thus far. However, his wins this year have come against some pretty dull fields. He was all out last month to beat three rivals that were hopelessly overmatched on paper in the Zia Park Derby. His win three back in the Ellis Park Derby also came against a fairly uninspiring bunch. The form from the Arkansas Derby this year hasn’t really held up, as Caddo River and Concert Tour, who were the principal players in that race, didn’t run well that day, and were both soundly defeated in their only start after that race. I think Defeater (#2) for Tom Amoss, has the most upside in the group, and can avenge his loss to both Super Stock and Flash of Mischief (#3) two back in the Oklahoma Derby. I loved his race this winter at the Fair Grounds, when he blew the break in a very good allowance race on the Risen Star undercard. He closed very well from last to get within a length of BIg Lake, who at the time, had more experience, and sat a perfect trip in that race. He resurfaced this summer at Saratoga, when he ran a decent second to Speakers Corner, who ran a monster race that day. He came up short in the 9 Furlong Oklahoma Derby, a race which he probably needed from a fitness and experience standpoint. He put it all together when winning a one turn allowance race last out Churchill, drawing off to win by more than seven lengths. I think he can build off that race and give Ricardo Santana another shot to defeat a short priced Asmussen horse on this card. Flash of Mischief finished in front of Super Stock two back and most recently beat older horses when handily winning the Delta Mile. He’s the second choice on the morning line, and to me, he makes more sense as the race favorite. I think he’ll be the one to beat here. Last Samurai (#1) might be a logical player for the Temperence Hill Stakes at 12 Furlongs on the dirt later in the meet. He ran a big race against older horses at that distance two back, just missing at long odds in the Grade 3 Greenwood Cup at Parx. He followed up that effort with a strong effort at Churchill in a 10 Furlong allowance race. He might want to go farther than the 1 Mile and 1/16 distance he gets here, but he is definitely in good form. If the race falls apart, he’d be the one flying late to pick up the pieces. I’ll use Super Stock on the C line as a backup since he does like the track, and I’ll also include the D. Wayne Lukas runner, Ram (#7) on that line as well. He’s a hard tryer that might be better at one turn, despite a definite two turn pedigree. He wasn’t great here last season, but he’s definitely a better horse than he was in the spring.
This full field allowance race is going to come down to value for me, as there are some horses in here that feel like their odds are very short on the morning line. I think the most likely winner of this race is Phantom Dance (#9) who had a three race win streak in Southern California snapped by the narrowest of margins last out. There is a decent amount of early speed signed on in this race to his inside and outside, so I think he’ll be able to find a good spot in the early going, and pass the front runners late. Palace Coup (#3) is the morning line favorite off a big effort last out at Churchill in the slop. I am always wary of big Beyer jumps on off tracks, but he has some strong races strung together in his past. Perhaps that was the effort that could get hm back to his better form. I don’t love 5-2, and vertically speaking, if he’s around that number, I’ll be trying to beat him. However, he’s done enough to use him on the multi-race tickets. I’m willing to give Amongst Friends (#10) another shot after running a dull race in the slop last out at Churchill. He was 18+ lengths behind Palace Coup in that race, but he was very wide and even though he was a dominating winner in the slop at Indiana Grand this summer in an off the turf race, that was the first time he was really taking a lot of mud in his face, as he was forwardly placed in the other race. He’s in the third race of this form cycle and he is capable of running much better. I’d like to get better than 8-1 (ML) on him, which is definitely a possibility in this big field. Mr. Tip (#8) is one that could benefit from a fast early pace, as he runs well from off the pace. His last few haven’t been great, so he’ll definitely need to reverse his current form to be a player in this spot. Maker continues to run him in races where he is protected from being claimed, so for a trainer that excels in the claiming game, that tells me he still thinks this horse has some value for his stable. He’s another one that isn’t very interesting to me at 6-1 (ML), but could certainly be more enticing if those odds float up.
Favorite Bet Today: Late Pick-5, Race 6 ($36.00 Ticket)
I think there’s a few legs in the Late Pick-5 where we can get skinny, and I think there’s some horses we can play against to get some solid value on this ticket. I’ll likely have a few backups, but going into the day, my main ticket will look something like this.
Race 6: 6,9,14 (Use 11 if 14 is scratched)
Race 7: 2,6
Race 8: 5
Race 9: 1,2,3
Race 10: 3,8,9,10