The week ends at Oaklawn with a nine race card that has three starter allowance races and an optional claiming/allowance race for Arkansas fillies and mares. We’re back on Thursday for another four day race week in Hot Springs.
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||1||1,9||4||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|5||2||2,5||4||1||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|6||2||2||8||DBL, PK3, PK4|
Nip N Tuck (#6) hasn’t been in the best form of late and he’s moving up in class, which doesn’t sound like a winning formula. However, he’s stretching back out to two turns for new trainer, Cipriano Contreras. He finds a $40K-$35K N2L claiming field that is lacking any other true front runner. He ran well at one mile in his last two turn start this past fall at Indiana Grand. Saqeel (#1) is the morning line favorite that will likely take a decent amount of money in this race. He was good last out when facing winners for the first time. He can make up for his lack of early speed with his rail draw. Beachwalker (#3) is the other logical shorter priced horse in this race. He was six lengths behind Saqeel two starts back with similar. He got away slowly that afternoon when he was claimed by Broberg. He showed improvement last out with better, so if he can run back to that effort, he could be a factor here.
I prefer some of the less experienced runners in this $10K maiden claimer. I think the morning line favorite, Candy’s Story (#1), running for Chris Hartman is going to be tough here. She ran an improved effort with a better field fo $20K maiden claimers last out. This field is not as good as that group. Truebluegirl (#9) drops in class after a failed experiment where she moved up in class and routed last time out. Her sprint debut two back was a better effort, so the class relief will be welcome. Golden Hammer (#4) struggled last out when facing an above average field of $20K maiden claimers in her second career try. The second and third place finishers that afternoon came back to break their maidens in their next start. This field is not nearly as deep.
Eight runners are set to travel one mile in this $12,500 starter allowance contest. This race oversubscribed, so it was split into two divisions, with the second one going as Race 6. I’m interested in seeing if the Minnesota bred, Buxterhooter (#5) can transfer his form from Delta to here. Chris Richard claimed this seven year last out for $7,500. While this is definitely a step up in class and a much tougher circuit, I do like the current form and the fact that he’s won 11 times and hit the board 14 other times in 35 career starts means something to me. Verrazano First (#4) is the other one I’ll use here, making his first start off the Chris Hartman claim. He’s been mostly running in one turn races, but his last effort at this distance was a win. I don’t trust the form of many of the others here, so I’d be okay playing him as the favorite.
I’m going to want some coverage in this state Bred $8K claiming race. The two shortest prices on the morning line, Smarty Grimes (#3) and Five O One (#4) ran ten days ago with $20K state bred claimers. While that field had more depth, I’m not sure this is as big of a drop as it looks on paper. I really liked Smarty Grimes that day, but he let me down, finishing 7th. I think both are worth covering, as they’ve both run races not too long ago that would be good enough to win here, but I’ll try to beat them with Stomping Hotrod (#10) breaking from the outside stall. He’s been a big price in his first three starts at the meet, but I liked his effort at long odds last out with open, time restricted $12,500 claimers. He was beaten by Secretary at War, who was a game second yesterday. He’s run against three significantly better fields and finally gets some class relief. Whenthedovescry (#1) was re-claimed by Broberg last out for $6,250. He had him in good form when he last trained him, winning his final start when he was claimed in December. I like that he’s running for a higher tag, while also being class relief.
More state bred claimers go here, this one for fillies and mares that have never won twice, offered for a $25K-$20K tag. The morning line favorite, Guest in My Heart (#6) fits from a speed figure perspective, and she’s getting class relief. However I find it hard to trust her here, seeing as how she’s never won a race on dirt, and her only career victory came 17 starts ago back in July 2020. I’m going to try to beat her outright here since she feels like a bad favorite. I’ll try the Tampa shipper, Flowersforshantall (#2) on top. She only had four starts and her last try came back in December on grass. However, her first two efforts this summer on the main track at Colonial were not bad. She came up empty in her first Florida try, but that was in optional claiming/allowance company against a significantly better field. She’s an unknown commodity here and she might need this race before she’s at her best, but I do see some upside. Hamazing Lace (#5) is another filly that could be trending up. She broke her maiden in her 10th try last out, beating state bred $20K maiden claimers. While it took her some time to graduate, she’s never really run a bad race, hitting the board six other times and never being beaten by double digit lengths. Life of Saturdays (#4) has run her two best races in her last two starts. She’s another one that needed time to break her maiden, finally getting it done two back. She wasn’t bad when facing open $10K N2L claimers last Friday, finishing a tough trip 6th. She makes sense at this level today.
Part two of the one mile, $12,500 starter allowance race starts the Late Pick-4. While horses in the race have shown the ability to pop from time to time, I think this race runs through the favorites. Hardly A Secret (#2) was a respectable 5th when facing a significantly better $20K starter allowance field last Sunday. Broberg wins with 19% of horses running back in a week or less, but the ROI is low. That tells me, most of his winners are shorter prices horses that are well spotted. He’s been very consistent at this meet and should prove to be tough at this level. Diodoro sends out the main competition with River Echo (#8) breaking from the outside stall. This nine year gelding was a winner for the 13th in his career when he beat time restricted $10K claimers last month. He was claimed off Broberg and now starts for another high lot productive claiming outfit. He hasn’t been as consistent as the top pick, but his dull efforts have all come against tougher fields.
Three year old maiden fillies run for a $75K tag in this six furlongs sprint. It’s interesting to see that the four shortest prices on the morning line were all claimed for a lower claiming price that they’re running for today. I don’t see that as a big deal because I don’t think there’s a huge difference between a $50K maiden claiming race and a $75K maiden claiming race, especially since they don’t often card this condition. However, those fillies already failed to graduate after making the big drop from maiden special weight to maiden claiming company. I’ll try one of the firsters, using Bali Dreamin (#3) for Michael Pulich. Her last two works have been sharp, after showing ain’t and steady work tab that leads up to her debut. Pulich has hit with prices in the past with horses in their first starts. Princedreamcess (#9) is going to be the one to beat, after showing some good speed in her local debut last out. She gets a barn upgrade and an outside draw after being claimed by Diodoro. Asmussen claimed Sweet Beauty (#8) last out off Brad Cox. While she doesn’t have the dazzling speed of her sire, Maclean’s Music, she has run better races when going one turn. She closed well to be second with $40K-$35K maiden claimers last out, and she should get some pace to close into here. Argumental (#4) is one I’ll try on deeper tickets here. She was re-claimed by Maker for the same owners last out. She was purchased for $85K from this group, so they lost money on her in their first go-around. Clearly they liked her enough to claim her back, and she’s coming off her best try to date when racing for a lower percentage barn. She hasn’t been close to winning though, so there are definitely mixed signals.
The feature race is an optional claiming/allowance contest for state bred fillies and mares. Summer Shoes (#5) could not have been more impressive in her local debut three weeks ago she decimated an overmatched state bred maiden special weight field. If she runs back to that race, I can’t see anyone running a race strong enough to beat her. There is certainly the chance that she could bounce off that effort, so I will cover my bases by also using Tapit Right (#2). She was improving with each start at this meet while sprinting. She faltered last out when going two turns at this level. She returns to a sprint today where I think she’ll put forth a better effort.
The nightcap is another starter allowance, this one for a claiming tag of $20K or less in 2021 and have not won twice in the last five months. As a result, Cumberland Avenue (#9) who was an easy winner at this condition two weeks ago, is eligible to come back and do it again today. I’d argue that the runner up from his last race, Wobberjod, is better than the other eight rivals that are entered in this race today. It’s not very creative, and it could mean a very chalky late double, but he’s definitely the most logical pick. Don’t Forget (#3) would be one I’d use as a backup, seeing as how he’s gradually improved with each of his three starts at this meet. The faster they go early, the better his chances would be. I’d also throw in Ultimate (#7) who is interesting to me if we can get 8-1 (ML) on him at post time. He threw in a clunker last out when catching a muddy course. His fast track form at this meet does stack up though.