Oaklawn Park Racing Preview – 2/25/22 – By Eric Solomon

Rebel weekend kicks off with a nine race Friday afternoon card, highlighted by a pair of allowance races. Race 4 is a $101K, non-conditioned allowance at 12 furlongs, where three of the seven runners are graded stakes winners. Race 8 is a $100K N3L allowance race for three year olds and up going one mile. After a ten win week, David Cabrera comes into this weekend as the hottest rider on the grounds. He’s made the race for leading jockey extremely interesting at the moment. Ricardo Santana Jr. leads the field with 31 wins, but Cabrera and Francisco Arrieta are right behind him in a tie for second with 30 wins. 

 

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 5 5,7 2 DBL, PK5
2 1 1 8 9 DBL, PK3, PK4
3 4 2,4,11 DBL, PK3
4 7 7 3,5 DBL, PK3
5 2 2 1,8,10 3,9,11 DBL, PK3, PK5
6 2 2 8 DBL, PK3, PK4
7 7 3,7,9 1 DBL, PK3
8 5 3,5 2 6 DBL
9 11 9,11 6

 

 

Race 1:

The first race of the week is a $10K N2L claiming race for fillies and mares, three and up, going 1 Mile and 1/16. Bitter Vixen (#5) ran her best career race at seven furlongs for Ken McPeek. She broke her maiden that day with $40K maiden claimers, while sitting off a slow pace and drawing clear. It looks like she could get a similar trip again, while dropping in class. She hasn’t run well in her two local starts when running in six furlong sprints against better N2L claimers. She faces a weak field for her first start at two turns, and I think as a daughter of Congrats, she’ll be able to get the trip. Living for Today (#7) feels like the one to beat after handily beating $10K maiden claimers in the mud last month. She was making her first start at two turns that day and she didn’t disappoint her backers, winning at 6-5. She was claimed by Genaro Garcia, who has hit with 18% of his runners off the claim over the last year plus. David Cabrera gets the return call. The morning line favorite is Hightailing (#2) making her first start of the year for Rene Amesuca. She has twelve career starts with some significant gaps in her running lines. Her only win came on the grass, and she’s never been close to the winner in seven tries on dirt, despite some four on the board finishes. She’s tough to like as the favorite on top, but I’d cover her on some deeper multi-race plays, as there is not much depth to this field. 

 

Race 2: 

I like a pair of Dominus fillies in this Arkansas bred maiden special weight race for fillies and mares going 1 mile and 1/16. It looked like Sulwe (#1) needed time to figure some things out in her debut, but she was rolling late, after being nearly 20 lengths off the lead at this first call. She faced open maiden special weight foes last out at Sam Houston when going seven furlongs. It was interesting that Moquett picked that spot for her to debut, as the $34K purse there with open company is significantly less than the $84K purse she could have run for one day earlier on this track. Moquett does have her based there, and perhaps that ability to go seven furlongs was the key, maybe thinking that he didn’t want two turns for her debut, but the six furlong races here are too short. Regardless, I think she makes a ton of sense here and is strictly the one to beat in her local debut. I think Sweetness Too (#8) could add some value underneath and could be a solid play in her first try at two turns. She was 4th, beaten 11+ lengths two weeks ago when sprinting here. However, I think she’s bred to go a little bit longer, and she should appreciate the added distance this afternoon in her third career start. She may have enough tactical speed to sit a better trip than Sulwe or Punchy Girl (#9) at longer odds. Punchy Girl is the morning line favorite here after a pair of on the board finishes in her last two sprint races at this level. She doesn’t get a great post for her first start at two turns though, and at short odds, I think she might be better at one turn. I’ll cover with her on deeper tickets, but I’ll try to beat her using the top two. 

 

Race 3:

There’s a full field of 12 for this $10K maiden claiming race going 5 and ½ furlongs. This is a tough race since many of these haven’t flashed the best form. Outcome (#4) ran into Abdan who was facing much tougher before beating a $12,500 maiden claiming group two weeks ago. He ran his best race in his career in that race, finishing 4th, beaten nine lengths. He was forwardly placed that day and Arrieta will likely try to get on or near the lead again. Holiday Ticket (#2) certainly makes a lot of sense here, dropping in class after a poor effort with $30K-$25K maiden claimers last month. His sprint races aren’t great, and I don’t love him shortening up to 5 and ½ furlongs after a pair of two turn efforts. I am a bit concerned that he’ll be left with too much work to do, especially at short odds. However, he might just be better than these. Allen Milligan has had several live runners debut in maiden claiming company this meet, and Uncle Rico (#11) follows a similar work pattern to some of his winners. He’s a four year old Anchor Down first timer that has works that appear good enough to hang around at this level. The wide draw is likely a plus for him here. I’ll try to beat Freer (#1) who is the second choice. He was claimed by the leading trainer, Steve Asmussen, but his last two dirt races have not been good. I don’t love that he drops to $10K maiden claiming level after being claimed for $20K last month. The rail draw isn’t necessarily ideal for him as well. He’ll take money and he could very well beat me, but I’ll be playing against him in his 10th career try.

 

Race 4: 

The first allowance race today is the local prep race for the Temperence Hill Stakes on the Arkansas Derby undercard in April. The morning line favorite, Strong Tide (#7) enters this race in top form, finishing a close third on the grass last month in the Grade 3 John Connally Stakes at this same distance at Sam Houston. Prior to that he was an easy winner going 1 Mile and 3/16 here against a nice allowance field. He finished in front of Trident Hit that day, who was a winner here last week. He’s won at 1 Mile and 9/16 on this course, so we know he can handle the distance and surface. Dynadrive (#3) is an interesting horse that Diodoro claimed for $62,500 in his last start at Churchill. He crossed the finish line in 4th in the 10 furlong contest, but was disqualified and placed last. Diodoro claimed Lone Rock, who turned into a long distance specialist for him, from a similar kind of race,so he knows how to get these marathon runners ready. He’s another one that has had success on both surfaces, and he might offer more value than some of the others in here. Three runners in here are graded stakes winners, Tenfold (#4), Cupid’s Claws (#5), and You’re to Blame (#6). Of that trio, I think Cupid’s Claws has the best shot today. He was an odd entrant last month in the Grade 2 Joe Hernandez at Santa Anita, which is run at 6 and ½ furlongs on the Downhill Course there. Three of his last four races at 12 furlongs or longer on the dirt have been strong efforts, winning the Grade 3 Tokyo City back in September of 2020. He was a decent third behind Lone Rock and Tizamagician three back in the Grade 3 Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance race at 1 Mile and ⅝ at Del Mar. 

 

Race 5: 

In the middle of the card, we get another $10K maiden claiming race, this one for fillies and mares at 1 Mile and 1/16. If Living for Today wins the opener, that would certainly flatter Madame Pie (#8), Pure Silk (#1)Moonlight Blaze (#2), and Miss Alpha Bella (#3) who finished second, third, fourth, and fifth, respectively, behind her at this level last time out. Poolside Manner (#9) and Undecoded (#11) are both taking significant drops in class after getting wide trips with better fields last time. However, both are stuck with wide draws again, which further complicates this race. You could also talk me into taking Dede’s Trick (#10), who is still winless after 29 starts. However, her trainer for the first 28 starts had a 2% winning percentage in 2021. She made one start for Dewaine Loy, who had a 5% winning percentage in 2021. Since then she moves to Robertino Diodoro, who has now had her for a few months. He won with 25% of his starters in 2021, so there is reason to believe she has a forward move. The other four starters feel hopeless in here, so for me to feel good about this race, I’d need coverage with these seven. If I’m playing this race on a tight budget, I’d argue that Moonlight Blaze (#2) is the one to beat, having more upside than many others. She’s drawn well and makes her third career start and her second at two turns. She was claimed by Jerry Donaldson, who, as a trainer, only won once in 2021, which is a concern. However, this is not a great field and I think she could be running by them all late. I think we could get better than 4-1 morning line odds on her. 

 

Race 6: 

The late Pick-4 kicks off with an open $10K claimer for fillies and mares at six furlongs. I’m going to try to get away with using only two here, while trying to beat the morning line favorite, Tapalong (#5). Her last win was very good while beating conditioned $10K claimers, however, she had things all her own way that afternoon when dominating that race. This field is stronger and I don’t see her getting the perfect set up again. I like Summer Storm (#2) on top for Wayne Potts. She was claimed after being open $6,250 claimers last out on the Diodoro claim and drop. I was trying to beat her that day, but she looked much the best that afternoon. She worked a bullet last week, which was the fastest 4F drill of 99 workers that day. She likes this track and is moving back up the class ladder. I think she’s going to be very tough in here. Sandy Sangria (#8) is my other alliterative play here. She made her first start in three months at this level last month, while entered with a waiver. She tired a bit that day, finishing 5th. She should be more fit for this start, and after a slow start, her rider (Cabrera) and her trainer (Broberg) are red hot going into the week, 

 

Race 7:

There’s a lot of ways to go in this $30K starter allowance, so this will be a coverage race for me. A handful in here are coming off some poor performances, and this would be a spot where they could rebound at big numbers, but I prefer the more consistent types in this race. I ended up with Ultimate (#7) as my top pick. He’s been popular at the claim box, while maintaining very good form over his last four starts. Martin moved him to this level last out to protect him from being claimed and he was rewarded with a neck victory while surging late through the stretch to get up over Flat Lucky (#9). That one draws the outside post today, so he’ll likely be coming late with a wide move. There might not be as much pace as there was last out, but there should be enough to give him a fighting chance with this group. Mo’s Mojo (#3) at 8-1 on the morning line might offer the best value of anyone in this spot. He caught some wet tracks in his last two starts, while facing better foes. He drops in class and has been more effective on fast tracks. On deeper tickets, I’ll use the morning line choice, Devil’s Tower (#1) who is in search of his third straight win. He’ll likely have some company in the early stages and his rail draw pretty much commits him to that trip here. He can handle a strong pace, but he’s run better races when he’s been on the outside in those pace battles. 

 

Race 8: 

The co-feature is a competitive N3L allowance at two turns. I like Dr Jack (#5) in this spot for Steve Asmussen. I’m willing to draw a line through his effort at Turfway when making his first start on a synthetic track. He comes here to make his third start off the layoff to try to get back to his high quality form from the summer. He won his first two career starts before finishing a decent third behind the newly minted Derby winner, Mandaloun, in the Pegasus at Monmouth. More recently, he was off the board in the slop at Churchill before faltering last out. He is well bred, being a half to graded stakes winners Idol and Nest. Super Constitution (#3) ran a strong race over the course in his first start since the end of the summer last month. He was a big longshot that day and he really didn’t show his early foot, despite breaking from an inside post. I expect him to sit a little bit closer to the front today and take a step forward from his last effort. Prodigious Boy (#2) is the morning line favorite and another live mount on the card for Cabrera. He was third in a deeper allowance field here on New Year’s Day in the slop in his most recent effort. He’s run his best races in the slop though, and despite some wet weather on Thursday, the track is likely going to be drying out today. I’ll upgrade him if the track is wet, but he might be worth trying to beat on a fast course. On deeper tickets, I’m not sure exactly what to expect from Game Day Play (#6) off the long layoff. He was claimed by Diodoro for $75K back in April and he came back to run significantly improved efforts in the Oaklawn Stakes and the Grade 3 Matt Winn at Churchill before going on the shelf. His pedigree looks like it leans more to one turn races, but those last two races off the claim were routes. He may need this race, but if his odds float over the 4-1 morning line, I’d be more willing to pull the trigger with him. 

 

Race 9:

The nightcap is an overflow field of Arkansas bred optional claiming/allowance runners. There’s some three year olds taking on older horses and some recent maiden winners taking on some more experienced rivals. I ended up on Ima Bling Cat (#11) on top in this race. He’s been a different horse since breaking his maiden here last year when facing Arkansas bred $20K maiden claimers by over ten lengths. He ran a strong race two back with open starter allowance company, but came up empty when facing Gar Hole at this level last out. That one came back to win a stale quality state bred race last out, and is probably the best Arkansas bred sprinter in training at the moment. This field is not as deep, and I think he can rebound here. Citrus Bay (#9) is one of the three year olds facing older foes here and I think he has a shot to upset at long odds. He is also coming out of the Gar Hole race, finishing just in front of the top pick that day. He was overmatched in open company two starts back when facing the likes of In Dreams and next out winners Chasing Time (who runs in the Rebel tomorrow) and Magnolia Midnight. Arrieta retains this mount on this improving son of Hightail. Mrs. Beans (#6) has a few gaudy Beyer figures on wet tracks, which probably does little for his overall value in this race. However, he’s second off a long layoff and this four year old may continue to improve. At short odds, I’ll try to beat him, but I’d like to have him covered in the final leg of a multi-race wager. 

 

Favorite Bet Today: Race 6, Late Pick-4 ($36 Ticket, $0.50 Base Wager)

I like this ticket because I’m siding against a favorite in the first leg (Tapalong) who should take a good amount of money. I think there’s opportunities for some mid-priced horses to score in all four legs. If we can get two or more of them home, this ticket should pay all right. 

The Ticket

Race 6: 2,8

Race 7: 1,3,7,9

Race 8: 2,3,5

Race 9: 6,9,11

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