Oaklawn Park Racing Preview – 2/26/23 – By Eric Solomon

Rebel Weekend concludes with a nine race card headlined by the 8th race, which is a N1X allowance race for Arkansas breds. First post is the usual 12:30 (CT) time, with the feature race going off at 4:10 (CT). Racing shifts to a four day week throughout the month, so I’ll be back with the full card analysis for the Thursday (3/2) program. 


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 1 1,2 DBL, PK5
2 3 2,3 1 DBL, PK3, PK4
3 4 4,6 DBL, PK3
4 6 6 4,5 DBL, PK3
5 8 8 3 DBL, PK3, PK5
6 4 4 5 3 DBL, PK3, PK4
7 7 7,8 9 DBL, PK3
8 11 2,6,11 9,12 DBL
9 3 3,5 7



Race 1: 

The day starts off with a $16K N2L claiming race for fillies and mares going 1 mile and 1/16. Lantern’s Candy (#2) is the 4-5 morning line choice in this race, making her first start off the Scott Becker claim. She was second last out with $12,500-$10,000 N2L claimers here, coming up short as the 3-5 favorite. She was also a beaten favorite two starts ago with $45K-$35K N2L claimers in the mud here in December. She’s the most consistent runner in the race, which means something with this group. She should be the favorite, but 4-5 feels awfully low. I’ll use her on the A line, but I’ll take a chance with Eli’s Girl (#1) on top. She was eight lengths behind Lantern’s Candy last time out in that same race, in which she was also claimed out of. She has inside position on the favorite though today and she might be able to use her post to establish the early lead and set soft fractions. There still should be some moisture in the track, which should suit her just fine. 

Race 2:

This is the male version of the first race, as the conditions, other than the sex of the horses, are identical. Paid in Full (#3) met a strong field for the $20K N2L condition last week, when he was dull throughout the race. Speed figure wise, he wasn’t too far off where he needs to be to be successful at this level. He’s at his best when he’s controlling the tempo on the front end, so I expect Chel-C Bailey to be on the muscle with this Klimy gelding. American Smooth (#2) was foaled by the graded stakes winning mare, Our Khrysty, and she has gone on to be a useful broodmare, foaling horses like the Del Mar Debutante winner, Grace Adler. He doesn’t have the same level of talent of his siblings, but I do think he’ll be better in his second race off the layoff. He ran an even 4th last out with similar when sprinting, but he’s been more effective at two turns. Kiss Principal (#1) was claimed for $12,500 off the same connections that campaign Paid in Full. He was away slowly when making his local debut, but he closed well to get into third.  It’s been a while since he’s shown a lot of early initiative, so perhaps that’ll be the strategy from his new connections. However, it’s hard to be confident playing him at short odds when he’s been winless since October of 2021 and he’s never won a race in his career on the dirt. 

Race 3:

This conditioned $35K-$30K claimer is for three year old fillies or older fillies that have never won twice. Two three year olds that both own a pair of wins are taking on five older horses. I’m not running to the windows to bet the favorite in this spot, Megan’s Clara (#7). She was claimed for $50K in May when she made her last start. Norm Casse brings her back to Hot Springs with a lower tag in her first start off that layoff. Despite the barn’s high win percentage at this meeting, I’m not liking the signals this one is giving off. I’ll try Funtimegirl (#4) in her second start off a long layoff and her third career start. She was a 40-1 winner in her debut last season and then went on a near 13 month break. She was entered with $50K N2L types in her return, which enabled her to be entered with the waiver. While I’m sure they would have liked her to win, I don’t think she was fully cranked that day. Leading rider, Cristian Torres retains the mount for John Prather, which I see as a plus. Yolanda Who (#6) is one of the three year olds taking on her elders in this spot today. She’s gradually been improving for Todd Fincher, finishing third with starter allowance types last month. She was very good in the mud three back when clearing the N2L condition with $25K claimers at Remington. 


Race 4: 

Three year old fillies go one mile in this $30K maiden claiming event. Perfectly Golden (#6) makes the most sense to me in this spot. She dropped to this level last out and ran a solid third, while sitting closer to the pace than she did in her first two starts against better. Bret Calhoun got his second winner of the meet yesterday, so the barn could be gaining momentum for the second half of the season. Lovely Joyce (#4) is an appealing longshot who is trying two turns for the first time after a pair of sprint races to start her young career. She hasn’t shown much speed in both of those starts, falling behind by double digit lengths at the first call. However, she finished both races with some interest, so the stretch out could be what ails her. Watch This Munny (#5) drops in for tag for the first time after and up and down start to her career. Asmussen has struggled to find where she fits best. Her race two back at the Fair Grounds when making her first dirt route wasn’t terrible, despite losing by double digit lengths. She has a shot, but she’s another one on this card that I’m thrilled about taking a short price on. 


Race 5: 

Conditioned $10K claimers are set to go six furlongs in this race which starts and ends a Pick-5 wager. News Box (#8) is looking for his first win since last January when he crushed a field of open $6,250 claimers here. He was claimed off a lower percentage barn by Diodoro for his third start off the layoff today. He faces a field full of question marks, but for the most part, he is the most consistent runner in this field which should give him the edge. Tillis (#3) has been a two turn horse for the better part of his career, however, he wasn’t too shabby when facing a much stronger field at this condition last out when entered with the waiver. He should be more fit for this race and despite the 0-6 record here, his local tries are better than they look. 


Race 6:
The Late Pick-4 gets underway with an open $30K-$25K claiming race for fillies and mares. There was a lot of speed signed on in a race like this last time and Jets A Ginnin (#4) changed tactics by letting the pace duel develop, and then he powered home to win going away. He’s in search of his third consecutive win, as he now runs for Diodoro after he claimed him out of that last race. I think his adaptability is what separates him from this field. Greg Compton has two runners in this race and both look like they want the lead. Princessdreamcess (#5) might be a little faster and if she breaks well, Juarez, who rides the stablemate, A Real Jewel (#2),  might concede the early lead. If that scenario plays out, Princessdreamcess will be playing catch me if you can, which will make her a threat. As a saver, I’ll throw in So It Would Seem (#3) on a few deeper plays. She was really good this winter at Del Mar and Santa Anita, but she hasn’t been the same since she was claimed. Peter Miller dropped her to $12,500 claimers last out and she was third as the heavy favorite. John Haran doesn’t have great numbers, but he does okay with horses first off the claim. Seven pound apprentice Hannah Leahy is in search of her first win over this oval. 


Race 7:

Conditioned $30K-$25K claimers will sprint six furlongs here. This race is open to horses that have never won three races or horses that have not won a race in eight months. You Vee Cee (#7) is an Arkansas bred horse that is probably not quite good enough for the state bred N2X or conditioned allowance levels, nor does he fit in the open N1X allowance condition. I think Carl Deville has found a good landing spot for this five year old though. He’s definitely getting some decent class relief while racing with a claiming tag for the first time in his career. He’s been  a useful runner for owner Jerry Caroom, banking over $163K in on-track earnings. I’m not sold on the shorter priced claim and drop runners, so I think he makes a lot of sense in this race. Upstriker (#8) has a pair of third place finishes in his last two tries at this level. It’s been a long time since he’s been in the Winner’s Circle, and there’s a part of me that wonders if he’s forgotten how to win. There’s other speed horses breaking to his inside that are a bit quicker from the gate. He’s been close to the pace in his last two and has hit the front both times before tiring late. I don’t see this as a particularly deep field, so I do think he can contend. Juarez rode him for the first time and got him closer to winning than he has in a while, so I’m thinking that he might have figured some things out. Blame J D (#9) has been bad in his last two races when facing state bred allowance types. Those fields were deeper than the group that he’s facing today. He reunited with trainer Chris Richard, who had him firing three big races at Canterbury this summer. Perhaps he has the horse figured out, and at longer odds, I’d be willing to use him in this race.

Race 8:

An overflow field of 14 is signed for the featured stated bred N1X allowance race. The question that will be answered today is; how good is King Peanut (#6)? He was very impressive in his debut, when facing a decent state bred maiden special weight field. He broke well, found himself in a tight spot when passed by a more experienced runner (Stuck N Snow) on the outside. He had to gently tap on the brakes, but he circled up four wide and powered home as a much the best winner that day. Third place finisher, Chupapi Munyayo, came back to break his maiden a few weeks ago. He’s a three year old facing winners for the first time, and he’ll also be facing older horses here. He was beet like a good thing when debuting for a barn that doesn’t usually win with horses in their first career start. In fact, prior to King Peanut winning, the last first time starter that trainer Daniel Peitz won with, came back in 2018, losing with 46 straight debut runners in that span. That horse that won, Musabaqa, did win their second career race. I’ll be using King Peanut, but this is a deep field and he may be overbet while trying to tackle a big step up in class. I’ll make Afleet Sky (#11) my top pick, making his third start off the layoff today. He won his debut race on New Year’s Day 2022, and is still looking for his second career victory. I liked his two efforts this year, finishing 4th both times. He tried two turns last out, and tired a bit late. I like him cutting back to a sprint today. Westheimer Street (#2) is another three year old, this one sent out by Chris Hartman. He struggled against a solid field of open N1X runners last month. He came from off the pace to score in his career debut two back when facing state bred company. He makes sense on the drop in class here, and may offer decent value coming from a barn that continues to win a high percentage of races at this meet. On deeper tickets, Allo Enry (#9) and Topf Road Rules (#12) would be worth including. Allo Enry was a professional maiden until finally breaking through two starts ago, winning for the first time in his 12th career start. He looked more confident on track when losing by less than a length in a route at this level last month. Ricardo Santana won three races yesterday and has another live mount here. Topf Road Rules faded to 5th in his first start since May last month. He’s a five year old that has some up and down form, but when he’s good, he’s tough to deal with.  


Race 9:

$10K maiden claimers will wrap up the week in the nightcap. If horses that entered this race were bred in Arkansas, they are able to run with a $15K tag. I’ll try Singing Groom (#3) in this race. He debuted in state bred maiden special weight company and was never really involved. His speed figure isn’t far off from what he’ll need to win here though. There’s reason to believe that this Bird Song gelding could improve on a significant class drop for his second career start. Order of Merit (#5) feels like the one they’ll have to beat here. He was claimed from Todd Pletcher by Danele Durham at Keeneland in October. He was overmatched in his first two starts against significantly better fields, but he was much more competitive when dropping to this level last out. This field is weaker than the field he finished third with last time. Campisi (#7) is another Arkansas bred, who is coming out of a similar race. He hit front, but was passed by Vying Edge, who drew off to win by 5+ lengths. He’s hot the board in three of four career starts, but has never really been close to winning. This is a softer field, but 7-2 still feels a little light for me. 

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