The weather is starting to feel like spring as this is the first day of racing in spring at Oaklawn. The feature race oversubscribed and was split into two heats. Race 6 is the deeper division, whereas Race 8 is more wide open. First post for this Thursday card is 12:35 (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|
|2||5||2,5||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|5||10||10||6||9||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|6||1||1||4||DBL, PK3, PK4|
This is a tough $30K-$25K N2L claiming race that starts the week at Oaklawn. There’s a lot of early speed signed on here, so a closer does make some sense. Lucky Dude (#8) is dropping in class after a pair of dull efforts. He was sharp three starts ago when beating a $30K maiden claiming field here back in January. I think he’s a reasonable rebound candidate in a race where he’s one of only two horses to pass horses in a victory. Vobiscum (#7) might be the speed of the speed in this race, which is always a plus when there are several speed threats and limited options for closers. He makes his third start off the layoff and should be more fit for this race after fading to third last out. Pistol or Shotgun (#1) is the other option for an off the pace runner to score here. He was regressing a bit prior to being claimed for $25K last month. His new barn is ice cold at this meet, currently trying to snap an 0-34 losing streak. If his odds float up over the 8-1 morning line, he’d be more enticing to take a chance on. Midnight Majesty (#6) is the morning line favorite, cutting back in distance after finishing third with lesser last month. The connections will limit the value that we’ll get on him. However, there’s not a lot of solid options, so it makes sense to cover with him.
$12,500 maiden claimers are going two turns here. Pizza Charlie (#2) is the 7-5 favorite on the morning line in this race. He’s better than this field from a speed figure perspective and he’s dropping in class. There’s not much speed signed on at all, so he could wind up controlling a slow tempo. He’s 0-17 though, finishing second only one time in that span, which is a concern. I’ll use him because it does seem like he’s well-spotted here, but I’ll try Mr Works (#5) on top, hoping that he’ll catch a fast track in a two turn race for the first time. He ran well with statebred $20K maiden claimers two starts back. He was wide and flat in the mud last time with open $20K maidens. He’ll drop in class to face a soft group. If Pizza Charlie doesn’t go for the lead, he might be interested in doing so.
We’ll move to an evenly matched $16K starter allowance for horses that have also not won twice since November 23rd. I’ll try Lt. Junior Grade (#4) as an upset possibility here. He was excellent when beating Macron in an open $40K claiming race at Keeneland last fall. He was very sharp last year at Horseshoe Indianapolis, and like many of his rivals, he thrives at this six furlong distance. He’ll start at 12-1 on the morning line after two dull efforts, while facing several in form runners. I think he can turn it around though after a brief respite. Pioneering Papa (#3) was a winner with $50K starter allowance company last out when making his first start for Diodoro. He is actually facing a tougher bunch today, but his current form is very good. The connections have been on a tear all meet long. Colonel Bowman (#2) looks for his third straight win on one of his favorite courses. He shipped here, making his first start since the start of November and was very sharp when beating a $12,500 starter allowance crew. He is also moving up the class ladder, and will likely need to be just a little bit better to win with these.
Here’s another $12,500 maiden claiming race, but this one will be at six furlongs. We have another short priced, professional maiden in this race, Diodoro and Torres will team up with Kentucky Bourbon (#7), who is listed at even money on the morning line. He doesn’t have much early foot though, which has led to him running out of racetrack in his last two starts against better. He drops, which is not ideal for me, especially since he was claimed for $20K two back. He’s another one worth using, but I’ll try to beat him with Ike Wazowski (#9), in hopes that his last race with state bred maiden special weight types was a fluke. He didn’t break well, but was still forwardly placed, before faltering. I don’t see an eager challenger for him on the front end, which could play in his favor. I’ll hope he gets brave while facing a softer group.
State bred $15K-$10K claimers go six furlongs here. Heritage Park (#10) made his first start since July last month and he faced a strong optional claiming/N2X allowance field when doing so. He had an up and down meet here last season running some big races, but also running some definite clunkers. This feels like the right level of competition for him and I’ll expect him to improve against this group. Hamazing Wisdom (#6) was in much better form in the fall at Remington. He took a brief break and has returned with a pair of dull efforts with state bred allowance types. He doesn’t love racing on off tracks, so I can forgive his last where he was beaten soundly by Mahomey (#9). I do think he can improve in his third start of this form cycle. Mahomey is the morning line favorite after beating a solid N1X statebred allowance field last month. While I can understand not wanting to try the contentious statebred N2X condition, dropping into a spot like this isn’t necessarily a ringing endorsement for this one. He’s in good form, so I’ll use him as a saver, but I think he’s another vulnerable short price on this program.
This is a nice optional claiming/N2L allowance race for three year olds. This race oversubscribed and was split into two divsions. The morning line choice, Easy Action (#1) figures to be very tough in this spot. He finished off the board in a salty N1X allowance race last month. The runner up, Shopper’s Revenge, is entered in the Louisiana Derby on Saturday. I don;t think this son of Speightstown really wants to do two turns, so the cut back in distance makes sense here. Backside Buzz (#4) does make sense as a backup here. There is a decent amount of early speed signed, so this Connect gelding could be rolling late. He hasn’t won a ton, but his last three starts have shown noticeable improvement.
The last Pick-3 of the afternoon gets started with a maiden special weight for three year olds and upward going one mile. Bolzy (#6) makes his third career start after a pair of solid efforts to start his career. He was forwardly placed last out, despite being pinched a bit at the start. There’s not much speed, unless the Brad Cox first time starter wants to go from the rail, so I think he’ll be well-placed throughout this contest. Mount Craig (#5) was a troubled trip third as a 6-5 favorite last out. I loved him in that spot, and he probably was the best runner that day. However, he has been his own worst enemy more than once, which makes me hesitate to jump on him at short odds. Onthestage (#10) will have to avoid going four wide on both turns again in this race, and post 10 is no picnic for that task. However, he did move forward in his second start, and business has been picking up for the ASmussen barn after a dreadfully slow start to the meet. Humor Me Now (#1) is the Brad Cox first timer with a rail post. Cox has tremendous numbers with first time starters in route races, however, most of this dam’s runners have done their best work at one turn. The connections alone will cause me to use him as a saver,
The second division of the featured allowance race is more wide open, but not as deep as the first division (Race 6). I’ll try Lil Sweet Thang (#7) to come running late here. He closed a ton to be second in the Groovy Stakes at six furlongs when facing Texas breds. He struggled in a slaty allowance race at two turns last out, so the return to one turn is helpful. I’d prefer six furlongs to the 5 and ½ furlongs that he’ll get today. However, at 6-1 on the morning line, I think he’s worth the gamble. Too Much Info (#8) showed interest early on in the Advent Stakes on opening weekend, before fading to finish last in that race. He did have to contend with a muddy course that day, so I’ll give him another shot on a fast track today. Wild Mule (#1) hasn’t been able to duplicate his New Jersey success in Arkansas this meet, however, I do like him on the cutback today. He tried the mile last out and wanted no part of that kind of trip. He cleared the N1X condition, so he’s in for the $100K tag today. Tivy (#5) broke his maiden with a solid effort in a restricted maiden special weight last month. This is a big step though for a horse that has been installed as the 9-5 morning line favorite. I’ll use him as a saver.
An overflow field of statebred N1X runners will close out the afternoon. Afleet Sky (#9) is interesting here, as he’s likely to get his first start in a sprint on a fast track. He’s had six career starts on five of them have been on off tracks. His lone try on a fast track was when going two turns. He put a career top figure that day, but I think he’s better at one turn. I’ll try him at long odds here. Lochmoor (#10) is the 2-1 morning line favorite in this race after two big races to start his 2023 campaign. He’s raced six times here, and has only finished off the board once in that span, which was in his debut. I think he’s a player, but 2-1 is a little light on this one, as I think that others are closer to him in ability than his odds suggest. Peace Dog (#4) returned a winner when facing state bred conditioned claimers back in January. He’s another horse that has some solid efforts on this course, so I can see him running well in his first start off the claim. On deeper tickets, I’ll look toward Aspen Club (#2) who could take them all the way if things break right for him. He’s been sharp in his first two starts off a long layoff, so he could be eligible to move forward once again.