The three day week of racing at Oaklawn will conclude with a nine race program with the first race starting at 12:30 (CT). The co-featured races are a pair of N1X allowance contests, both drawing overflow fields, in Races 8 and 9 today. Just a reminder that Oaklawn will be taking a holiday break next week, so the next day of live racing is Friday, December 30th. To everyone reading and playing along, I wish you a happy holiday season and a prosperous and healthy 2023.
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||2||2||6||4,7||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|5||6||6,10,11||12||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|6||9||9||2,3||DBL, PK3, PK4|
Eight two year old maidens go one lap around the track in the opener. I’m going to try to beat Missin Curfew (#1), the Diodoro second time starter who is dropping in class. His pedigree definitely leans one turn, so I think the value will lie elsewhere. Idratherbeblessed (#4) has a lot going on for Chris Hartman, but I see him as the one to beat here. He’s adding Lasix, dropping blinkers, and returning to two turns after struggling somewhat in one turn races against better in his last two starts. His race on 9/25 at Churchill was his only two turn race and it was by far his best. I see him having more upside than anyone else here. Prince of Roses (#5) actually finished a length better than he did in that same September race at Churchill. His last two haven’t been great though, failing to score with $20K maiden claimers in his most recent effort. He was claimed that day and moves up in class to $30K company where he meets a field lacking a standout. He’d be the one I’d cover with here.
When you get a favorite that is in good form and seems to be in line to get a perfect trip, it’s hard to build a case against them. That is what I’m seeing with Olliemeister (#2) in this race. He has two straight wins in claiming company, and now moves to starter allowance conditions for Matt Shirer, who has a win and second place finish with two starters at this young meet. He’s won three of six career starts and both starts at this six furlong distance. I see him sitting off both Ninja Warrior (#4) and Cold As Hell (#7), who figure to be battling on the front end. Cathedral Beach (#6) is one of two Diodoro trained horses in this race, (Ninja Warrior being the other). He might be another beneficiary of a pace battle up front, Orlando Mojica gets the call, as Cristian Torres gets the assignment aboard Ninja Warrior. While Torres seems to be riding first call for this barn right now, I see Cathedral Beach as the more interesting entrant from this barn. I can see him taking a step forward in his first start off the claim, and he’s proven to be able to rate If either Ninja Warrior or Cold As Hell scratch out of this race, I’d likely upgrade the remaining horse. They both want the early lead, and will likely make each other work too hard in the first quarter or so. If one defects, the other’s chances of winning do improve considerably.
We have a modest $30K-$25K state bred maiden claiming race. We saw a first time starter upset a dull group of maiden claimers yesterday, and that may be on the table again today. John Prather sends out Tommy Tri (#7), a Mo For the Money gelding, for the first time today. His works seem like their good enough for this group, and Prather has the ability to win at first asking with a longshot. Heart Headed Arky (#9) was abysmal in his first six starts. Trainer Dewaine Loy gave him a few months off, and he returned in the fall as an improved horse. He was third in his last two tries with open $15K maiden claimers at Remington. I think those fields were still a little better than this group. Atta Party (#8) finished 4th behind Heart Headed Arky last time out. That was his first race while in for a tag in his career. He was more competitive in state bred maiden allowance races last season, so there’s reason to believe that he can compete with these.
Ten maidens run with a $50K-$45K tag in this 1 mile and 1/16 contest. There’s a lot of horses that have had several chances to get their first win in this race, so as a result, I’m going to be seeking some value. I’ll try Heir to Greatness (#8) on top here, making his first start off the Greg Compton claim at Keeneland. He got back on the dirt in that race after a pair of turf tries at Kentucky Downs and Ellis. Blinkers will go on the first time, and I think the slight cutback in distance will be beneficial. Majestic Flag (#4) is making his third career start after a pair of starts in Louisville. He came up empty in his debut in maiden special weight company, but he improved dramatically when dropping in for a tag in his second career try. He moves up in class a bit in terms of claiming tag, however, I don’t see much difference between this group and the group he faced last time out. Absolute Courage (#9) started his career by running in some very salty maiden allowance races in New York. He went to the sidelines after finishing 5th in a nine furlong race at Saratoga. He resurfaced about 13 months later at Kentucky Downs and hasn’t shown the same sharpness that we saw in his three year old season. He dropped in for a tag for the first time last out and ran a significantly improved race, finishing a close second. I like him at this level and I believe he has a better race in the tank. On deeper tickets, I’ll cover with the morning line favorite, Koselio (#3). I don’t love him in this spot, stretching out for the first time after a pair of sprints to start his career. Brad Cox does have strong numbers with horses dropping out of maiden special weight company and into maiden claiming company. I think there will be better value on the board though.
A full field of state bred #20K claimers which have never won twice will sprint six furlongs here. Tale of Truth (#6) had four starts here last season, running strong races in the three sprint races that he competed in. He was a winner at first asking, and was competitive with similar when making his last start in May. If he can fire from off the bench, he’ll be tough. Super Geek (#10) already has one start under his belt at this meet, which looked like a race that he desperately needed. He was also competitive in sprint races under similar conditions last season. He was claimed last week and he may have an edge over some of the comebackers in here with that recent try. Lord M (#11) is another one making his first start of the season. He’s been away since April where he was last seen finishing up the track at this level. Moquett had another winner on yesterday’s card, as his barn has been red hot to start this meet. Macho Ronnie (#12) is the morning line favorite here, and like Koselio in the previous race, I see him as a horse hat has a shot, but he represents poor value, especially at the morning line figure. He was very good when dominating state bred maiden claimers here last season. If he can bring that energy to this race, he’ll be tough. However, I think he might need this race before we see his best.
The Late Pick-4 gets underway with a $20K claiming race for fillies and mars going six furlongs. I landed on Stanley Market (#9) at a price in this race, hoping that returning to Oaklawn will help her return to better form. She improved over her four starts here last season as a three year old, beating N2L claimers in February and hitting the board in a pair of starter allowance contests. Her last three at Churchill, all going longer, have not been good though. Bejarano taking the mount is a plus, and returning to six furlongs should work to her favor. Dawnland (#2) is the morning line favorite on the drop in class. She was claimed for $50K three back and was a winner with $40K claimers two starts ago at Churchill. She faded late with starter allowance types in her last try at Keeneland. She was dominant at this level over the summer at Belmont, and while I don’t love the drop in the class, she’s been very good when she’s at the right level of competition. I’ll proceed with some caution here. Chasing Shadows (#3) is another one that hasn’t been great lately, but she’s returning to her best distance after three consecutive two turn races at Delta and Prairie Meadows. She was a winner on this track at six furlongs last year when beating $25K N2L claimers in April. She feels like the one with the best chance to be gaining ground late.
$30K-$25K N2L claimers are set to run 1 mile and 1/16. I’m struggle with what to think about the morning line favorite, Extravagate (#10) in this race. He was a $62K purchase that debuted as a three year old in July at Ellis with a $30K tag. He was a voided claim in his second start, when running with a $167K tag. McPeek stretched him out to a true two turn race for $30K maiden claimers at Keeneland where he dominated, winning by 14 lengths. He’s been protected in his last two starts, running competitive races in $50K starter allowance company at Churchill. There was a $50K starter allowance race on Friday at this distance, where he looked like he could have been a good fit. I’ll cover with him, but at short odds and a wide post, I have some doubts. Like he did in the second race, Diodoro has a pair of runners, and like in that race, I prefer the one the Orlando Mojica is riding, Troubadour (#7). Cristian Torres, who has ridden first call for him, is on Kattath (#9). Troubadour ran two very strong races at Santa Anita and Del Mar over the summer when going two turns. His last few tries haven’t been as good though. Diodoro claimed him for $32K and ran him in a similar condition at Del Mar last month, but going six furlongs. He was away a step slow and finished in the middle of the pack. I think he stands a big chance to move forward in his second start for this barn, while also stretching back out to a route. Kattath was claimed in a similar $32K N2L claiming race at Del Mar over the summer. He was one of those horses that may have come back before he was fully cranked in order to return to the races in less than one calendar year. He ran a better race last out in a 6 and ½ furlong sprint at Santa Anita. His lone route was back in 2021, but it was a solid effort.
The first of two co-featured races is a N1X allowance race for three year olds and up, sprinting six furlongs. Jackman (#4) is the morning line favorite and will likely be the favorite at post time. Speed is his game and he’s going to be rolling early with Torres in the saddle. He cleared the N3X condition at Remington, but remains eligible for this N1X race because of the purse structure there. He’s won three of his last four and has finished first or second in his last five. I do see him having to work for the lead though. He does like this course and is a major player. He’ll be on the A line for me, but I’ll pick American Pure (#12) to nail him on the wire late. Lindsay Schultz had a longshot winner on Friday to get her meet started, and she was able to get this American Freedom colt to run one of his best races in starter allowance company at Churchill last month when making his first start off the claim. He’s been a popular claimer that has shown the ability to put two big efforts together. I think he’ll sit a good trip and have every chance to catch the pacesetter late. Freudian Fate (#3) is another Remington invader that has a live look in this race. He had a two race win streak snapped in N3X allowance company last month, while flattening out after making a wide bid. Isaac Castillo might need to be a little crafty while looking for seam along the inside, but he has a chance to get first run on the leaders if he can rebound off his latest try. Angkor (#7) should take some money at the windows after an impressive effort at Churchill at this N1X level last out. He’s been in the money in his last four without finding the Winner’s Circle. He fits on figures, but I do worry that the six furlongs will be a shade short for him. I’ll cover with him on class, but if the odds are too low, I’ll try to beat him.
Fillies and mares going 1 mile and 1/16 in this N1X allowance race that will wrap up the week at Oaklawn. It’s hard for me to look past the favorite in here, as Pretti Xtreme (#3) feels like strictly the one to beat for the potent Broberg/Torres combination. She’s been first or second in her last five starts, finishing second in the mud in stakes company in her last start at Delta. She was a handy winner two back with open $40K claimers at Churchill. She beat open claimers in the spring on this oval at this distance, winning by open margins. I have some doubts about some of the shorter prices in here and I think with her running style and post position, she’ll sit a winning trip. She feels like one of the safer singles on the card, albeit likely at a pretty short price. It’s hard to find a horse I’d be comfortable using as a backup here, but Hoping for a Ring (#5) is a live longshot that I could make a case for. Most of her early work came in sprint races, but she improved considerably in her last four tries at Prairie Meadows, when going two turns. She’ll be on or near the lead in the early part of the race, and she figures to be overlooked in the wagering. She’ll be underneath in the vertical exotics for me, and if her odds go over her 20-1 morning line, I might take a small shot with her to win.
Favorite Bet Today: Late Pick-5 ($40.50 Ticket, $0.50 Base Wager)
With the average field size in this sequence being 11.4 starters per race (not including the AE’s), this sequence is worth considering. I think Pretti Xtreme (#3, R9) in the nightcap is the most likely winner on the card. She’ll be my single, while hoping to beat some of the shorter prices in the earlier races,
Meet Statistics: Top Pick 10/44 (22.7%), $93.20, $2.12 ROI