The Friday program at Oaklawn offers nine races, headlined by a stakes quality allowance sprint for fillies and mares in Race 8. Joy’s Rocket and Lil’ Tootsie both return from decent tries in the American Beauty Stakes here back in January. The weather forecast is tricky this afternoon, as rain is expected and temperatures are expected to be falling throughout the day. At some point in the day there is a possibility of the rain changing over to snow. Definitely keep an eye on the weather and changing track conditions throughout the card.
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||2,4,5||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|5||9||1,9||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|6||5||5,9||2,6,7||DBL, PK3, PK4|
The week starts off with a $10K claiming race race for Arkansas bred fillies and mares. This is definitely going to be a coverage for me as this is a wide open field. Mo Moneyhoney (#7) is a Delta shipper, coming in off the Carl Deville claim. Three of her last four races there have been solid, and now she tries state bred claiming for the first time in her career. Florent Geroux has had a decent amount of success riding for Deville, and he gets the call on this improving four year old filly. Dutch Treat (#2) was a winner two starts back with time restricted state bred $16K claimers. She was claimed that day and then got away slow when making her first start for Karl Broberg in her next start. Since then, his barn has been heating up at this meet, and I think she’s capable of rebounding in this spot. Tailorbeswift (#6) is another Delta invader that could benefit from the change of scenery. She was a winner in her last race on this oval last season, which is encouraging. She makes her second start off the layoff, while cutting back to one turn. Princess Lilli Bug (#8) is the morning line favorite, but she feels vulnerable in this race. She’s run big races in the past, but she hasn’t been the same horse in her three races at this meet so far. She drops in class and gets an outside trip, but she’ll have other speed to contend with. I’ll cover with her on some deeper plays.
$10K N3L claimers go 1 Mile and 1/16 here. Looking at speed figure patterns, Stock Deal (#2) would be a horse that I would normally gravitate toward in this race. However, there are a lot of intangibles for this horse that would send me in another direction. I don’t like that he hasn’t won since November of 2020 and I don’t like that’s he’s never hit the board in 11 starts on this track. He was claimed off Diodoro a few starts back for $30K and was reclaimed two back for a new owner for $10K. His last wasn’t good, but it was in a sprint where he missed the break. However, he does fit at this level, and he should get a ground saving run into the first turn. I’ll use him, but I’ll look to a few others. I made him my very lukewarm top pick in a race that I don’t love. Foxy Ace (#5) is coming off a race where he ran an even 4th, while struggling to keep pace in the final furlong. He was a competitive 4th at this level two back, rallying through traffic as he was surging late. Three of his last five efforts would likely make him very competitive with this group. I really want to try to beat Southerner (#4) in this race, because I think he is ripe for a bounce. However, there are a lot of things playing in his favor in this spot. Most notably, he does has a big advantage with the early pace scenario. I don’t see anyone going with him in the early stages of this contest. He’s 8-5 on the morning line and will likely go into the gate at odds lower than that. I don’t see any value on him, but I really can’t make a strong case for most of the alternatives.
$30K maiden claimers travel 1 Mile and 1/16. I’m not loving the two shortest prices on the morning line. My Favorite Uncle (#1) is making his 14th start, and while his speed figures are good, he’s never really been close to winning, even in his six on the board finishes. Loving Lucky (#3) had a huge figure boost when getting a nice trip with a rail rally after a slow beginning last out. I’m not willing to take a short price on him either. I will cover with him on some deeper plays though, if the track is dry. There is a possibility of rain, and I’d downgrade his chances on a wet track. Quarantine Whiskey (#8) debuted in a competitive maiden special weight sprint where the third place finisher was a winner last week here. He gets two turns for the first time while getting significant class relief. There’s not a lot of speed signed on, so Quinonez might be well served by taking the aggressive route with him. Chisholm Trail (#7) makes sense after a solid 4th place finish at this level three weeks ago. He’ll need to make up two lengths on My Favorite Uncle, and I think he’s capable of doing that here, as that one often struggles to create the right trip for himself.
Some of the shorter prices are very logical in this optional $40K claiming/$40K starter allowance race. It’s hard to look past Swift Tap (#8) making his first start off the Moquett claim. He showed some potential as a two year old at Monmouth this summer, and he’s run a pair of solid races thus far at this meet. He was third in a three horse photo last out. He was traveling comfortably while going three wide on the far turn, but seemed to idle when he found himself in between horses in the stretch. He fired a bullet here at the end of February, going the fastest four furlongs of the 63 workers that morning, and he’s proven on an off track if that scenario plays out. I think he’ll be tough with this group. Banjo Bear (#1) is the logical alternative, coming off a strong third place finish with N2L allowance runners here last month. This is a drop in class, so he’s certainly live with this field. On a wet track, I don’t love the rail post for him, but regardless, I think he’s tough to leave off your tickets.
The mid-card race is a $20K starter allowance that looks like a serious throw down between two very nice horses. In addition to having to have started in a claiming race with a tag of $20K or less, horses entered in this race also cannot have won more than races (not counting races where the horse ran with a claiming tag of $10K or less). Wobberjod (#9) is an undefeated five year old gelded son of Flatter who has run very well in two races at this meet. He debuted in a modest $7,500 maiden claiming race at Remington in October and dominated that field by over eight lengths. He showed up here two and a half months later, entered in a $10K N2L claiming race where he was eligible for the waiver. He ran a big race to handily beat that field by three lengths. He showed up in a $10K starter allowance race where he was a game winner, holding off Seau after a long duel. He’s the only three time winner in the field and would be eligible for this condition again if he were to win today. He has a tactical advantage in this race over the morning line favorite, Cumberland Avenue (#1). I think he’ll be able to stay undefeated this afternoon. Cumberland Avenue is the logical alternative after running a huge race when third with $16K starter allowance company here three weeks ago. He was progressing nicely in Southern California before joining Diodoro’s barn and if he can run back to his last race, he’s going to be awfully tough.
The late Pick-4 starts with a $10K starter allowance for horses that have started for a $10K tag in the past two years and haven’t won twice since November 2021. This race definitely feels wide open as there are several fillies and mares that look to have a shot. I’m keeping on eye on the weather here, but the more rain there is, the better it is for Betcha (#5). She’s caught sloppy tracks four times in her career, and won all four of them. She was favored in a race at this level in her last start back in December, and she wasn’t quick enough to contend with the speedy Take Charge Erica in the early stages of that race. Her game is to be out front, and I think she’s the quickest of these in these early stages. I really like her on an off track, but I think she’s playable regardless. Kasserine Pass (#9) made her first start since November with $30K-$25K claimers two weeks ago, while entered with a waiver. She ran hard, but tired in the final furlong that day. She was very good at this meet last season, winning three starter allowance races. I think the outside post is beneficial for her in her third start since joining Diodoro’s barn. There are three mares that are all logical, but I do have a few questions about in terms of current form and their ability to run their best race on an off track. Tapalong (#7) was claimed here two weeks ago by Norm Casse after finishing five lengths behind the winner in the mud with $10K claimers. She moves to a protected spot after a dominating performance two starts back. Casee has only saddled 13 horses here at this meet thus far, but most have been live runners as ten of them have hit the board. She doesn’t seem to have the same burst of speed on wet tracks though, so that is something to keep an eye on. Jets A Ginnin (#2) was a winner of a $101K money allowance here back in December, but she faltered in the mud against tougher opponents in her last outing. She hasn’t been the same consistent runner that she was when she was running big races at this meet last season, so perhaps two months away will be helpful for her. She didn’t show the same early foot that was known for earlier in her career in either of her tries at this meet. She’s another player in a tough race on the drop in class though. Texas Rain (#6) is cutting back to a sprint after coming up a bit short at this level in a two turn race. Her career record at this distance is solid, and trainer John Ortiz and jockey David Cabrera are both red hot right now.
I‘m not in love with the favorites in this $30K-$25K claiming race for three year old fillies. I’m going to take a shot with the Southern California invader, Into Classic (#1). She ended her two year old campaign with a win at Los Alamitos at a similar level. After her disastrous debut back in September, she ran three solid races in a row on dirt and synthetic. She’s been away since and now makes her first start for Rene Amescua, who has fared well with his new acquisitions. Essential Bella (#5) showed some zip in her first local start, which was also her first career try on traditional dirt. Warrior’s Battle was the winner that day and that filly has vanquished many of these foes she’s facing today. She’s gotten a lot better since being claimed by McKnight this past August in Canada. She’s had some snappy works since that race in January and I think she’s got a chance to carry this group all the way. Ice Baby (#8) is the morning line favorite, and one that I think is worth covering in this spot. She was solid in a pair of sprint races to start her career in Kentucky and New Orleans. She struggled when trying two turns last out in her local debut. She drops in class for Cox while being offered for a tag for the first time in her career. She makes sense here, however, I feel she’ll likely be overbet in this spot. No Drama Mama (#3) is another runner getting some definite class relief. She’s coming out of some strong allowance races, most recently misfiring with a solid group. She wheels back two weeks later, and runs for connections that have clicked at 30% here over the last two meets.
Joy’s Rocket (#1) and Li’lTootsie (#2) square off after both coming up a little bit short in the American Beauty Stakes here in January. I tried to build a case for some of the outsiders in here, but I think the class will prevail here. Joy’s Rocket hasn’t won a race since December 2020, despite coming very close in a few stakes races. She has a little more tactical speed than Li’l Tootsie, which should be advantageous with this small field. She’s a three time stakes winner who should be able to build off her narrow loss last time out. I think she has the advantage, but a wet track might be the equalizer for Li’l Tootsie, who has to make up two lengths on her from their last start. She was very good when dominating an allowance field earlier in the meet. That performance was good enough to send her off as the favorite in the American Beauty Stakes. She was in traffic and didn’t really get to run her best race that day. Outside of Joy’s Rocket, she gets class relief here. I put her on the B line for a fast track, but with a muddy or sloppy course, I’d move her up to the A line.
I’m leaning on the newcomer in the nightcap, taking Billhill (#7) to upset this field of state bred maiden special weight runners. His breeding is above average for an Arkansas bred and he’s been working like a horse that has some potential in the AM. John Prather has done well over the past year with first time starters. Ev’s Sherman (#11) is the logical favorite, and will likely go off at odds of less than his 3-1 morning line figure. He’s been close in all three starts, including a second and third in his last two tries at this level. While his last race was solid, I did expect a little more than what he showed in that race. At sub 2-1 odds, I’d be looking for some more viable alternatives, however, he still has a decent shot to graduate here. Gentlemans Jet (#2) looks to build off a respectable debut where he showed some speed before backing up late. Moquett has good numbers with second time starters, and his work last week was very sharp. He could be sitting on a much better effort today. If he draws in and the track is wet, I’d give another shot to Whelen Springs (#14). He’s been a money butner in his last two races at short odds. I can forgive his last when he showed no interest in going two turns. He was very sharp in the mud three back though, running his best career race that day.
Favorite Bet Today:
With a weather forecast that creates the possibility for changing conditions throughout the card, it’s hard to come up with a specific horse or a sequence of races that I’m really liking. I don’t have a wager that I’m in love with as of now, but if I come up with something clever while the card is in progress, I’ll put up a few notes on Twitter.