Oaklawn Park Racing Preview – 3/11/23 – By Eric Solomon

The Grade 2 Azeri is the headlining event on this Saturday afternoon program at Oaklawn Park. Secret Oath, Clairiere, and Interstatedaydream all make their 2023 in this exciting stakes race. Due to time commitments, I’ll have the picks grid post and a few thoughts on the feature and and a few other races on the card. First post is 12:35 (ET) with Race 9 slated to go off at 4:54 (CT).


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 7 7 5 DBL, PK5
2 7 7,10,12 2 DBL, PK3, PK4
3 4 4,6,8 DBL, PK3
4 10 3,10 6 DBL, PK3
5 3 3 10 7 DBL, PK3
6 3 2,3 9 DBL, PK3, PK5
7 8 8 3 DBL, PK3, PK4
8 7 7,12 1,2 DBL, PK3
9 3 3 1 DBL
10 3 3 5,10



Race 6: 

There’s a pair of nice maiden special weight races for three year olds at one mile on this card. The first division feels like there are many live options. D. Wayne Lukas has enlisted Tyler Gaffalione to ride here for him today, as he has the mounts on all four of his runners today, including Secret Oath in the featured race. They’ll team up with Major Blue (#3)in this race who is coming off a solid effort last month in a race at this same condition. He was away a bit slow when breaking from the rail, but ran on well to be 4th while making his first start since his debut back in September. Quality Chic (#2) makes his second career start for Ken McPeek, who trains the morning line favorite in the second division of this race. Not a lot went right in his debut at Turfway, but he still closed well to be 4th that evening. I think he’ll handle the main track just fine with this level. Classic Cut (#9) is the lukewarm morning line favorite for Brad Cox and Florent Geroux. While the post isn’t ideal, he has a good track record with horses winning on debut in two turn races, scoring with Heroic Move last month on this oval. I still want a better price than his 3-1 morning line figure though. 


Race 7:

I like The Skipper Too (#8) quite a bit in this nine furlong N1X allowance contest. I can’t get behind taking short prices on either Barber Road (#1) or Ben Diesel (#9). However, 9-2 feels like great value on this Gulfstream invader. He ran well at this level on this track last year, finishing second to We The People that day. He struggled in stakes company after that race and went off form for a few races. He came back in December with a big effort in a loaded field in South Florida. He ran a strong 3rd at this distance against a better field last out. I think he’ll get a favorable setup in this race with cheap speed signed on from Back Ring Luck (#4) and Pat’s Property (#6). He can sit off those runners and pounce on the turn. I’ll back up with Chileno (#3) on deeper tickets, in hopes that he needed his last race while coming off the layoff. Blinkers go on today, which may help his cause. Joel Rosario taking the mount won’t hurt either. 


Race 8:

The second division of the one mile maiden special weight race also features a full gate of twelve runners. I like both of McPeek’s runners in this race, giving the edge to the favorite, Seeking Unity (#7). I thought for sure he held one last out on, but the photo finish camera proved otherwise, as he lost by a nose on a bad bob. He was better two back at the Fair Grounds on a fast track, which could be in the cards for him today. I think today’s his day to graduate. His stablemate, Interlock Empire (#12) certainly took the worst of the draw, but he’s a deep closer that could be okay to settle near the back of the field, while trying to save ground. He closed well to be third to Heroic Move last out. I’d prefer him if this race was at 1 mile and 1/16, where he’d have the full length of the stretch to uncork his late run. However, he’s still live here. Lukas and Gaffalione team up with Game Keeper (#2) who was a decent 4th in his debut in the slop. He took mud to the face and found himself in tight quarters, but he never quit. I can see him moving forward here. Nyquick (#1) is another Brad Cox firster with Tyler Gaffalione getting the ride. He’s the first foal to race from the mare Olivia’s Greatdane, who was second in her debut and won at second asking in her first try at this distance. The works are solid enough to consider, especially if the price on the favorite drops too low. 


Race 9, The Grade 2 Azeri Stakes:

This is a stellar field for the final local prep before the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Stakes next month. There’s a lot of speed signed on in this race with Lovely Ride (#2), Interstatedaydream (#5), Hidden Connection, and Hot and Sultry (#7) all possibly battling for the lead. That should set the table for Clairiere (#3) in her five year old debut. She was stellar in her first race back from a layoff last year, decimating an allowance field at the Fair Grounds. She was a solid second in the Apple Blossom behind Letruska, who had a dream setup in that race. Look for her to let them do their thing up front and roll by later. Secret Oath (#1) was the story of the meet last season, winning her first three starts here last season by a combined 24 lengths. She was third despite a lousy trip against the boys in the Arkansas Derby. She came back to win the Kentucky Oaks, but went on to lose her next five starts. She was ambitiously campaigned, as is the case with most of Lukas’s horses. She’s not the easiest horse to ride though, and her regular rider, Luis Saez, is piloting Tapit Trice in the Tampa Bay Derby today. Gaffalione will ride for the first time, joining her at her favorite racetrack in the country. She’s should get a good setup, but I think Clairiere is the better horse. 

Share this

Leave a Reply

Further reading