First post for is the usual 12:30 (CT) time, with the feature race going off at 4:10 (CT) on this nine race program that will kick off Rebel weekend at Oaklawn. There is some rain in the forecast throughout the weekend, so keeping an eye on track conditions will be extremely important leading up to the races.
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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Rebel weekend starts off with a conditioned $10K claiming event for fillies and mares sprinting six furlongs. Aaron Shorter sends out a coupled entry here. Of that duo, I prefer Forever Home (#1A), making her my top pick in this race. She’s been given a few months off after being claimed at this level at Churchill back in November. She has some nice efforts, and has been good coming off the bench in the past. Emerald Princess (#3) is looking to rebound after a dull effort with open $30K-$20K claimers last month here. She caught a middy track that afternoon while facing a significantly better field. Bejarano picks up the mount for her second start of the meet. She’s a two time winner on this course and her Minnesota form from the summer would put her right in the thick of things with this field. Carpe Horseshoe (#4) is the morning line favorite after a strong win in her local debut. She had never competed on traditional dirt prior to that effort, so seeing her run that well certainly is encouraging. Asmussen, fresh off winning his 10,000th career race as a trainer, claimed her out of that race. She was claimed for $10K and is back at that same tag today, while facing a better group. I do worry about the possibility of bounce though. I’ll cover with her in this one.
Arkansas bred maidens will run with a $20K claiming tag here. The two shorter prices in this race are Mr. Wully Bully (#6) and Westover (#7) and I’m not sold on either. Mr. Wully Bully has had 13 chances to break his maiden, and has never been closer than 3 and ½ lengths of the winner in any of those races. Westover was dumped by Brad Cox after an even debut with state bred $30K maiden claimers. He’s a three year old taking on older horses and he’s going two turns or the first time. He has more upside than Mr. Wully Bully, so I’ll back up with him, however, I’ll land on Mr Works (#2) in this race. He’s coming off a 6th place finish with open $15K-$10K maiden claimers here two weeks ago. He’ll run for the third time after two sprints to start his career. He has a decent post and figures to be a little more forwardly placed than his first two starts. Diesel Fuel (#10) will have to overcome a wide draw, but his last race wasn’t as bad as it looks on paper. He was a little keyed up when using inside position to win a four horse scrum into the first turn. He was pushed hard by a longshot and put him away early, However, before he was able to grab a breather, he had to battle again when Daboogeyman (#8) snuck up inside of him. He disposed of him two, however, he had little left in his first career route when the more seasoned Fetchs Brahms came knocking on the door. I liked the rider change and the fact that Richard Jackson is trying him again at two turns. His previous two tries in sprints would likely be good enough to win this race. Storm Strategy (#13) will need help to draw in and he’ll have to overcome a wide draw if he does participate. However, he was claimed by Asmussen after finishing third with similar when routing in the mud last out. He was interfered with pretty good on the first turn last out, so running on to finish third was impressive in my eyes.
Despite there being only seven runners, there is a decent amount of speed signed on for this optional $50K claiming/$50K starter allowance race. The table should be set for the improving Backside Buzz (#7) to run them down late in this race. He’s made significant strides in his four local races thus far at this meet, finally getting that elusive first career win last out in his 10th career start. Cristian Torres ended the week with a five win Monday and he fit this horse like a glove last time out. Marks Promise (#5) will have to prove that he can be as effective away from the bull ring at Delta. His three starts there have been very good, finishing second in state bred stakes company last out. His speed figures certainly stack up with these and the $50K purse of this race is better than the allowance purses at Delta. Broberg has struggled to find winners at this meet though and Torres opting to retain the mount on Backside Buzz feels very telling to me. Dixie Fury (#6) returns to a sprint after faltering at two turns in her most recent start at this level. She romped at this condition back in December when sprinting six furlongs. This field is deeper though, and she’ll have company on the front end early. Norm Casse has 10 wins with 19 starters at this meet so far, so everything from his barn needs to be respected at the moment.
Next up is a tricky $40K-$35K maiden claiming race where several horses are coming off career top efforts. Texas Ted (#2) is making his second career start after a 4th place finish with $30K maiden claimers in his debut last month. He didn’t have the best break that afternoon, but he was able to pick his way through the field to pass four of his rivals. While the barn and the rider have been cold at this meet, this looks like a good spot for both to break through. Nick Zito snapped a long cold streak with a win here a few weeks ago and today he’ll send out Hyper Speed (#6) for his third career try. He faced state bred maiden special weight types in New York in his first two starts. He’s been on the shelf since September and adds Lasix for his return to the races. He’s another live longshot in a wide open spot. There’s rain in the forecast, which should benefit Gucci Boy (#3) on the drop in class. He tried dirt in his local debut last out, finishing 5th in the slop with maiden allowance types. He outran his 30-1 odds that day, so Juarez earned the return call for Diodoro here. On deeper plays, don’t toss out Tap That Dial (#4). He debuted on the grass at Colonial in his only career turf try. He’s bred to be better on the dirt though and this feels like a much more reasonable spot for him.
Open $16K claimers race six furlongs in the race that ends the Early Pick-5 and starts the Late Pick-5. Scott Becker has won with three of six starters at this meet and he sends out Mystery Mo (#7) in his first start off the claim. He was ultra sharp two starts back, closing to beat an optional claiming/starter allowance field at Delaware. He was nowhere to be found in his local debut at two turns against better. Becker claimed him and brings him back for a slightly lower piece than he was claimed for. The horse has a good record at the distance and Becker has great numbers with horses turning back from a route to a sprint. Alebrije (#4) ships in from the Fair Grounds after a dull effort with optional claiming/N2X company there. That’s typically a strong condition in New Orleans, so this is sure to be significant class relief for him. Prior to that effort, he had a pair of length victories. Elias Lopez won with 22% of his starters in 2022 and he’ll make his local debut with a live runner. Alex’s Strike (#3) get consistency points after hitting the board in his last six starts. Only one of those was a win though, so he might be better suited for underneath in the vertical exotics. He doesn’t have much early foot, so the faster they go early on, the better chance that he’ll have of winning this one. Espionage (#9) is one that I’ll be keeping tabs on for this race. Broberg claimed him back in July and has had him on the sidelines ever since. He’s never finished off the board in four career tries over this oval. I also like that he’s not eligible to be claimed while he’s entered with the waiver. Broberg trained him last year so he has a lot of positives going for him. If he stays around his 8-1 morning line, he seems like a logical horse to try.
Fillies and mares sprint six furlongs in this $12,500 maiden claimer. Arkansas breds that participate are offered for a $20K tag. The morning line favorite, Lunch Lady (#13) is on the outside looking in here, needing a scratch to participate. She feels like the speed and fade type that I’ll be trying to beat, so I do hope that she does make it in. Bidofhoney (#5) feels like the logical choice to beat her here. Chris Hartman has had a fantastic meet, winning with 34% of his starters. She improved significantly with the drop in class from start one to start two at Churchill this fall. She’s been given some time off and she finds a very soft field for her return. She feels like the one to beat. Mo Silver (#7) is the logical backup play in this race for me. She dropped in class to face $7,500 claimers at Sam Houston last month, where she finished 3rd, beaten less than two. While she has more competition, I’m not sure it’s that much better than what she saw last out. She moves barns for her local debut and gets the services of veteran rider, Martin Garcia.
Greg Compton has a pair of live runners in this conditioned $25K-$20K claiming race. Both West Side Girl (#3) and Princessdreamcess (#5) are making their first start off the claim for Compton. Princessdreamcess is a true speedster and will likely be dictating the terms on the front end here. She’ll be making her first start at two turns though after sprinting in her first ten career tries. There’s not a ton of pace pressure for her to deal with, so I’ll definitely cover with her, however, I prefer the longer price, West Side Girl, in this race. I think she sits the perfect trip, sitting in the second flight while the frontrunners are doing their thing. She was wide and flat in her last try against open claimers, She gets a bit of class relief today, while also likely working out a ground saving trip. Don’t sleep on Black Kat Taps (#4) for Lynn Chleborad here. She sprinted in her first two starts at this meet, but she;s better runner at two turns, which she’ll get to do today. Her last two routes at Prairie Meadows were good enough to think that she’s at the right level today.
The featured allowance is a N2L contest for three year olds and up, looking for their second career score. Summer in Malibu (#3) feels like a live longshot in this race. Draw a line through his dull effort here two starts ago, when facing a salty starter allowance field here. He’s a bit unproven at a level like this one at two turns, however, he rebounded nicely with similar two starts back. Mahaamel (#1) has a bit of seconditis, finishing as the runner up in four straight tries. This one has only finished off the board once in 11 races, however, 9 of those ten solid efforts were second or third place tries. I’ll use Film Star (#2) on deeper plays. She came up empty in her last two, so I’m out if the price drops below the 10-1 morning line figure. I’m not sure if she’s the same hours that he was three back when making his behavior
We’ll end the day with state bred maiden allowance types, going one mile here. I’m going to try to beat the favorite, Stellar Lily (#2). She’s sired by Speightster, so I do wonder if the mile will be at the edge of her capabilities. The barn also has struggled with horses stretching out from sprints to routes, winning only 1 of 47 times since the start of 2022. I’ll look to the inside and side with No Guilt (#1) for D. Wayne Lukas. She’s hit the board in her last three starts, finding some trouble in her last two. She draws the rail today after drawing wider posts in her last three tries. I think she has enough tactical speed to sit a good trip, not too far off the favorite. I think her two turn experience will prove to be beneficial in the final furlong. Goldcrest (#9) appears to be overlooked in the morning line, being installed at 20-1. Despite winning his 10,000th race here last weekend, this has not been a very successful meet for this barn, winning at only an 8% clip. However, this filly ran evenly in her debut, and if Isaac Castillo can work out a trip from her wide draw, I think she can factor at this level, especially while stretching out. Unstable Princess (#4) has left herself with too much work to do in her last few races, finishing a beaten second and third place in those two starts. Ramsey Zimmerman gets the return though, and she has run well on off tracks, which might give her some upgrade here.