There’s a nine race card on Super Bowl Sunday at Oaklawn Park, which should provide a nice appetizer for the Big Game. The featured race is a six-horse affair in Race 4, which is an optional claiming/N2X allowance race for fillies and mares going 1 mile and 1/16. First post for is the usual 12:30 (CT) time, with the feature race going off at 2:03 (CT). Go Birds!
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!
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Maiden fillies sprint six furlongs in the opener, running with a $30K price tag. Ernie Witt drops Chartreuse (#1) in from maiden special weight company for the first time. She faced two strong fields in her first two starts at this meet, finishing 5th in her most recent effort. Leading rider, Cristian Torres has rebounded this week with five wins in the last two days, and he’ll retain the mount. Fabulous Fanny (#8) ran poorly in her first start since coming to Steve Hobby’s barn. She’s been off and on again throughout her limited career, but she’s shown that she’s capable of better things. She had a very snappy work over this course at the end of January, perhaps signaling that she’s ready to improve on the drop in class.
The early double will wrap up with a $40K-$35K N2L claiming race at one mile. I’m not sold on the morning line favorite, Film Star (#8) for Brad Cox. He ran two very sharp races in Kentucky but his last two have been poor. Perhaps the drop in class will help, but he was a $300K purchase running with a $40K tag today. I’ll make Jolly Tommy (#3) the top pick in this race, also dropping out of allowance company. He finished a distant second two starts ago, but was not as good when he broke slowly at that level last out. He slides back into claiming company for the first time since July when Contreras claimed him at Ellis. He’s versatile that he can win on the front end or coming from off the pace. Brooklyn Diamonds (#4) scratched out of a N3L race at this same tag on Friday in favor of this spot. He’ll be making his second start off the layoff and his first start for a tag since breaking his maiden in his debut with $75K maiden claimers on this course last season. I think he fits at this level and should improve in his second start off the bench. Chris Hartman continues to win at a strong pace at this meet, and he’ll send out Get Through (#2) for his first start off the claim. As the track dried out yesterday, closers were having more success, which is a good sign for him. He likes to run from the back of the pack and with some chearper speed slotted to the outside, he might get the right kind of trip here. He’ll need to improve, but he’s another live runner in this race.
$10K maiden claimers race at the bottom level here at Oaklawn. As an incentive to draw more horses to this field, state bred runners are eligible to run for a $15K tag. As a result, 12 of the 14 runners entered were bred in Arkansas. When many of these return to state bred races in their next start, it’s important to note that this race is really closer to a $15K state bred maiden claiming race than an open $10K maiden claimer that will show up in the form. Impoverished (#8) has run two tough races, hitting the board in both. He came up empty in the stretch behind Atta Party, who ran a game race against winners for the first time of yesterday’s card. Campisi (#7) drops in for a tag for the first time after misfiring with state bred maiden special weight types last time out. He ran third in his first two starts against better fields, so there should be some upside here. Just Because (#11) was a bit slow away from the gate in his debut with state bred $30K maiden claimers last time. He finished in the middle of the pack, making a nice mover before flattening out. He was five lengths behind Hardscrabble (#2) who is the second choice in this one. I think he can make up that ground today in his second career start.
I think Family Time (#4) is capable of pulling the upset in the feature today. I don’t believe she deserves to be 20-1 on the morning line, and I doubt we’ll get anywhere near that. However, Isee value with her if she goes off as the fourth or fifth choice in the wagering. Her last two in stakes company have not been good, however, she broke poorly and never was able to get herself involved in the Pippin Stakes last out. Prior to that, she won two straight races in allowance company at Remington, earning speed figures that put her squarely in the conversation for the win spot in this race. After dominating her last two starts. Richebourg (#2) gets to start off as the morning line favorite in this race. She crushed allowance fields at Remington and the Fair Grounds and now ships here for Brendan Walsh. She’s able to compete at this level since her win at Remington earned her slightly less than $23K. She’s been very good at this distance on the main track and she has established herself as the one to beat. Traverse (#1) is the second choice on the morning line and she still has to prove that she can handle two turns. She was a traffic filled 4th in the Pippin Stakes behind Lovely Ride, who was recently second in the Grade 3 Bayakoa Stakes last week. Her previous two starts were sharp wins at Churchill. If she can replicate that form at two turns here, she’ll be very tough to deal with.
State bred fillies and mares sprint six furlongs in this $20K N2L claiming event. K J’s Pistol Annie (#6) broke well, but was taken back in a similar race last time out. She got herself into good striking distance, but she was impeded by Jeri Dawn (#2), losing most of her momentum that she had built. I think she’s capable of running a better race than what we see on paper. She makes a lot of sense in her third start off the layoff. Betty Jo (#7) got up just in time to break her maiden in her first career try while in for a $30K tag. Bejarano continues to ride very well at this meet, earning a few more wins yesterday. This looks like a logical spot to try winners for the first time. Jeri Dawn is probably the most consistent runner in the group. While her move in the stretch undoubtedly affected K J’s Pistol Annie, I think she was still going to run her race. She became much more competitive at Prairie Meadows over the summer and that form appears to be transferring here with.
The Late Pick-4 starts with a $30K N2L claiming race for fillies and mares traveling one mile. Expensive Liaison (#5) interests me in this spot. She’s an Oklahoma bred that ran four times at the Remington meet this year. Her only win came as a longshot score in open maiden special weight company. She moved into Joe Petalino’s barn and was closing well to get up for second at this level last out, coming within less than a length of the win. She had a good trip that day and will need the same today, but I do see there being more upside with this three year old filly than most of the others in this one. I think Diodoro could have a big impact on this late sequence and he’ll send out the morning line favorite, Whiskey Blue (#9). He’s brought several California shippers here for the meet, and some of them he’s struggled to find the right competition for. I don’t see that being the case with this daughter of Maclean’s Music. She ran well at the mile distance in her last two starts while breaking near the inside. She’ll have to adapt while breaking from a wide draw, but her jockey, Christian Torres seems to have regained his confidence after breaking out of a two week cold spell.
$50K-$45K maiden claimers go 1 mile and 1/16 in this wide open affair. I’ll try a longshot on the outside and use Pine Cove (#10) for Joe Sharp. He debuted in a tough maiden special weight race on New Year’s Eve. The top three finishers of that race came back to win in their subsequent starts, so his off the board effort wasn’t as bad as it looks. He’s been working well for his second try and he drops in class, which seems like a logical move for this son of Mo Town. He’ll need a trip, but I think he has a lot of upside here. The Bookkeeper (#9) starts one stall over, and he’ll be trying two turns for the first time after sprinting in the slop in his first two starts at this meet. He closed well two back, but had some traffic issues last time out. Rocco Bowen will be tasked with working out a trip for this gelded son of Frosted. Trainer James Divito has good numbers and strong ROI with horses going from sprints to routes. Bubba Can Dance (#5) was flying late to narrowly miss at this level last out. He definitely improved from start one to start two and should be tough here. There’s not a ton of speed on paper though, so my concern with the morning line favorite is that he could be pace compromised today. I’ll use him, but this feels like a race to spread. Eternally Grateful (#4) has been claimed in his last two starts while moving up the maiden claiming class ladder. I don’t love horses on this kind of trajectory, especially ones at shorter prices. However, he fits on figures and should benefit from a better post than many of the other contenders. He’ll be on deeper tickets for me.
Robertino Diodoro sends out Li’l Grazen (#7) in search of her sixth consecutive victory today, moving up the class ladder to N1X allowance company. I don’t see this as a particularly deep group for this condition, so there’s reason to believe this nine year old mare can continue to get the job done. I think she should get the right trip in this race, stalking the cheap speed in this 5 and ½ furlong race. On deeper tickets, Parody (#4) who scratched out of the Dixie Belle Stakes yesterday could make some sense here. She’ll be taking on her elders today, but she was bred to be a good one. She struggled in stakes company, but she was strong winning for Brisset at five furlongs at Churchill. I like the cutback along with the class drop for her, as she returns to his barn after a two race stint with Baffert.
The nightcap is a $30K starter allowance for horses that haven’t won a race since October 12th. Misty Veil (#4) is the one of the three short priced runners that I’m siding with in this one. She was overmatched in the Pippin Stakes in her last start, which was her first since being claimed by Mike Maker. She was very sharp on this oval last season,and this is significant class relief. I see her being very tough to deal with here. Jubella (#7) would be my alternative in this one, shipping in from Delta Downs for Diodoro. She has never finished worse than second place in eight career starts on the main track.She was a winner in the slop at this distance at Evangeline over the summer, so she’s not just a bullring specialist, which is one thing I look at when trying to decide how Delta shippers fit into these races here. She’ll be involved early and has shown a tenacity in the stretch, which may serve her well in the short stretch run of the mile races here at Oaklawn.
Meet Statistics: Top Pick 50/232 (21.6%), $372.60 $1.61 ROI
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