Oaklawn Park Racing Preview – 3/6/22 – By Eric Solomon

The week ends with a nine race program featuring some competitive allowance and starter allowance races throughout the afternoon. Do note that as per his agent, Ron Anderson, Joel Rosario will be off his mounts today due to soreness after being involved in the spill in yesterday’s Fountain of Youth Stakes. Ramon Vazquez is back in town after guiding the Bayakoa winner, Miss Bigly to a respectable second place in the Grade 1 Beholder Mile over at Santa Anita. I would think that she’ll be pointed to the signature race for fillies and mares at this meet, the $1,000,000 Grade 1 Apple Blossom, on April 23rd. 

 

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

 

 

Race 1:

Four lightly raced fillies, all making their second career starts, take on four fillies with five or more races of experience in this $50K maiden claiming contest to start the day. Three of the four second time starters are three year old fillies taking on four year old fillies and all three didn’t break well in their debuts. This feels like a race where I’d want some coverage in the Early Pick-5 sequence. Makemebelieve (#3) debuted in October with $150K maiden claimers at Keeneland. She was away a bit slow, but she did rush up a bit before backing out of the picture. Mac Robertson gave her a bit more time and has had her working well steadily since January. She drops in class and adds Lasix off the layoff. Farasino (#5) is the lone four year old filly among the group of second time starters. She’s exiting a very salty maiden special weight race here on 2/13 where Tap for Me ran a huge race. She was beaten 20 lengths that day behind some talented fillies, however the speed figure she earned puts her in contention at this level in her second career try. Martinique Miss (#4) came up empty in that same race. She drops back to this level where she started her career. Her best career speed figure came on this course at this distance. Of the more experienced runners, she’s the one that feels like she has the best shot. I Feel the Need (#8) scratched out of a tougher maiden special weight race yesterday in favor of this spot today. She ran well in her debut in bad weather when rallying from off the pace to get up for third, less than a length behind the winner. She was promoted to second via disqualification, however the offending party didn’t bother her. She didn’t face the best field that day, and moves up in class for her second try. She ran on well late to make you think that she might have a forward move here. 

Race 2:

Rattrapante (#9) looks tough to beat while dropping to the bottom in this $10K maiden claimer. She was third two weeks ago with $20K maiden claimers, and the second place finisher that day, My Coralena, came back to break her maiden the following week. She makes her second start for Hollendorfer since relocating to Hot Springs from Southern California. I think she’s too good for these. I could give another shot to Texas Lexus (#10) at a price here. She takes a significant drop in class for her third career start. She had gate issues in both of her first two races, both against $50K maiden claimers. She makes her second start off a layoff and might be able to run a better race while drawn outside, hoping to avoid trouble at the break. 

Race 3:

A half dozen fillies and mares go 1 Mile and 1/16 in this optional $62,500 claiming/money allowance. Bold Tactics (#2) looks tough to beat in here. She was very sharp at Monmouth Park this summer, dominating both of her races in Oceanport, NJ. The Wests sent her down South to join Brad Cox’s barn, and she’s been third in both of those races since. She faced a very salty group in her last start on this oval, and the winner, The Mary Rose, was a definitive winner in allowance company last weekend. I think she is just better than these. I am a little concerned that she was a little flat off a similar layoff from September to November, so I’ll also use the nine year old mare, Beach Flower (#4) in here. She has done her best work outside of Arkansas in her 52 race career. However, she often fires, and is capable on any surface or condition. There is some potential rain in the forecast, so she’d be one to upgrade on an off track. She makes the most sense to me out of the other five.

Race 4:

We have another $50K starter allowance, which is an N1X race for horses that have raced at least one time for a $50K tag or less. We saw this condition yesterday in a race yesterday for sprinters and today they’re going 1 mile and 1/16. There’s not a ton of early speed signed on, so Joel Rosario might be able to get Toma Todo (#1) to carry his speed once again. He was a much the best winner in only his third career start on dirt last time out in January, beating $30K-$25K N2L claimers. The course had some moisture in it that day and he might get another course that is less than fast this afternoon. He has a rail draw and there’s no one that appears to be eager to challenge him. If they let him walk early, it could be all over. Catholic Guilt (#7) will be forwardly placed, but he has been willing to concede the lead in both of his last two starts. He beat $30K N3L claimers two starts ago, on the same card where Toma Todo was a winner. He struggled last out when moving into open allowance company last weekend. However, that was a very salty field he saw that afternoon. I think he can rebound on short rest here. Leading West (#2) is logical after being claimed for $20K last out. He ran his race last time, but Kershaw was just better that day. He’s been consistently good in four starts thus far at this meet. He could sit a little closer to the pace as he did at Keeneland last fall, since there isn’t too much early pace signed on and he has a desirable inside draw. Southern California invader, Signofthecross (#8) is the morning line favorite after rallying to be a close 4th with open $40K claimers at Santa Anita at the end of January. He’s been moved to the Diodoro barn, which had a winner yesterday, perhaps because races haven’t been filling out West. His running style might play better outside of SoCal, but I think this is not an ideal spot for his local debut, since he could be pace compromised. He’d be worth covering on some deeper plays, but I’ll be trying to beat him vertically. 

Race 5:

This state bred maiden special weight for fillies and mares doesn’t feel like a spot to get cute. Pattern Bet (#8) has been very good in her first two career starts, narrowly losing both races to a pair of talented Arkansas bred fillies each time. She came within a length of beating her elders at this level three weeks ago, and should be able to get the job done here. Prinia (#5) is the first time starter that might be the main danger to the favorite. She’s been working steadily for her debut since the end of November. John Ortiz continues to place his horses well at this meet, winning at a 21% clip thus far at Oaklawn. His yearly average is 15%, so his horses have been running well all meet long. Her works are respectable enough to make you think that she’ll be able to contend with this group. Summer Shoes (#7) made one career start for Tom Swearingen, which came in open maiden special weight company at Hawthorne back in October. She’s also been working on this oval, and I suspect she’ll be better in her next try. However, she’d be worth covering on some deeper tickets today.

Race 6: 

The Late Pick-4 starts with a $20K N2L claiming contest for fillies and mares going six furlongs. I think the shorter prices have the advantage here. I did like the race from Chasing Shadows (#10) last out when making her first start on dirt after shipping in from Woodbine. She’s now in her second start off the layoff and dropping a level in class. I expect her to make an improved run with this group today. The last race from Epicurean (#9) is a textbook example of why Diodoro is such a sharp claiming trainer. He claimed her for $20K in her 8th career start after failing several times on big circuits. She went to Sam Houston, where she dominated a $36K maiden special weight race, earning over $21K. She faces winners for the first time in a reasonable spot. If she gets claimed, they’ve already made back their money on the initial investment. Geovanni Franco had a winner on yesterday’s card and he gets the call on the morning line favorite here. Fifth Risk (#7) makes her first start since being personally claimed by Asmussen. She was claimed for $30K and drops right away for $20K, which is a move that I don’t love, but it’s a move that still can yield a small profit with a win and claim since he is the owner and trainer. She was done in by a bad start last out, but her effort two back was definitely sharper. 

 

Race 7:

This is a strong $30K-$25K claiming race where there are several with a live chance, This field is so deep, that I’m leaving the 17 time winner, Hunka Burning Love (#7) off my tickets. I’ve always liked this horse, but he feels like he’s lost a step and this field is deeper than the field that he was second with at this level in his last start back in December. There’s some up and down form in this spot, but Home Run Trick (#1) has been consistently good at this meet so far, finishing first twice and second twice in his four starts so far. He’s been battling with $10K starter allowance foes, so this is a step up in class. However, he has speed from the rail, which isn’t a bad thing on this course. He’s won 5 of 10 career tries on wet tracks if the rains do come though. Fort Peck (#2) was second three starts ago to Breeders’ Cup Mile and Pegasus World Cup winner, Life is Good Grade 2 Kelso at Belmont Park, which only had a field of four. However, he still ran a big race, but he’s been disappointing in his two starts since that effort. He drops in class for Diodoro, in what has turned out to be another shrewd claim from him. He may have needed his last when facing considerably better here three weeks ago. I think he’ll run a better race today. Bode’s Maker (#6) lost his first nine races over this course before winning there straight last year, leaving Hot Springs in excellent form. He struggled when cutting back to a one turn race at Churchill back in May and hasn’t been seen since. He’s been working well enough locally, and could be very dangerous if he’s the same horse from 2021. Leader of Men (#4) is another one to have an impact on the outcome of this contest. He’s struggled against some better fields in his last two starts.

 

Race 8: 

The featured allowance is a six furlong sprint for fillies and mares, three year olds and up. Larry Jones has a strong hand in this race and I’ll take his recent maiden breaker, Sweet Tea (#9) on top. She was a $300K purchase at the Keeneland September Sale in 2019, and she first made it to the track two years later in a maiden allowance at Churchill. She was away slowly, rushed up, and then faded in the stretch that day. She came back here and was all business, beating a good maiden field, where both second place finisher, Mun Luv, and third place finisher, Beguine, came back to break their maidens in their next starts. This field lacks some of the depth that other races at this condition have had at this meet, so I think she can continue to progress here. Well Spent (#9) was 4th in her last start on New Years Eve, when running against a solid field at this condition. Joyful Cadence, who finished in front of her that day, came back to win at this level last month in impressive fashion. She ended 2021 in solid form and could be dangerous off the brief layoff for Diodoro. I’ll give another shot to Wings of an Angel (#1) here after fading to 7th in the allowance race that Joyful Cadence won three weeks ago. She was in a tight spot pretty much the entire length of the backstretch, and was shuffled around a bit going into the turn. She didn’t offer much run after that. Drawing the rail is probably not ideal for her, seeing as how she didn’t respond well to being in close quarters, however, she could rebound with a better trip, while offering some value with the rider upgrade. On deeper tickets, I could toss in Sunny Isle Beach (#5) if her odds float over her 12-1 morning line. She was second at this level going around two turns in her last start. I don’t love her cutting back to a six furlong sprint, but she may benefit in the event of a pace meltdown. Her form has been improving, and while her best chance might be underneath in the vertical exotics here, I wouldn’t be opposed to taking a shot with her at 15-1 or better. 

 

Race 9:

We’ll end the week with an optional $15K claiming/$10K starter allowance race going 1 mile and 1/16. The starter allowance condition is for horses that have started for a $10K tag or less in at least one of their last two starts. That is worth mentioning, because it is one of the quirks with the local condition book. Three of the horses entered in this race Lookin for Eight (#1), V.I.P. Who (#7), and Hidden Promise (#9) are coming out of straight $8K or $10K starter allowance races that are restricted to horses that have started one time for a tag in that range since 1/1/21 and have not won two races in four months. By writing the condition that way, you don’t get the horses that show up in these races each month and win each time, but you are more likely to get fields that are deeper than this field. Conversely, this condition is nice, because it offers a protected spot for a recently claimed to run against a field where they’re more likely to be competitive. I do like both V.I.P. Who and Hidden Promise in this spot today, while getting a bit of hidden class relief. I’m leaning toward the longer price with Hidden Promise. He’s one of only two that are entered for the $15K tag, meaning they didn’t qualify for the $10K starter allowance as they haven’t raced for a $10K tag or less in their last two starts. He finished a very good second when facing open $10K starter allowance foes in the slop two starts back at this distance. A good effort from Home Run Trick in the 7th race would flatter him, as that was the one who beat him that day. He had trouble keeping up with a solid field of $8K starter allowance runners while sprinting three weeks ago. I like him getting back to two turns today. V.I.P. Who continues to run solid races each time, regardless of the trainer. He’s been a popular claimer, starting for four different conditioners in the last six months. He’s never finished worse than second in a two turn race in eight tries. Apprentice Albert Lopez has struggled this meet, but he rode him well last out and he earns the return call this afternoon. Coach Adams (#2) is worth playing back after a miserably wide trip with $6,250 claimers last out when running for Diodoro. Hollendorfer, who had this one going well when he was the trainer before, re-claimed this horse last out for $1,750 less than they were paid for him in December. He draws better today, and is another one that could be upgraded on a wet track. River Echo (#5) will also find his way on to some of my tickets this afternoon. He took a steep drop into time restricted $10K claiming company two weeks ago, thus making him eligible for this condition. Diodoro claimed him and wheels him back after two weeks. He isn’t as good on a wet course as he is on a fast track, so the weather conditions and his price will dictate what kind of investment I’ll make with him. 

 

Favorite Bet Today: Late Daily Double Race 8 ($30 Ticket, $5 Base Wager)

I’m looking to end the week on a high note, and I do like my A line horses in the last two races of the day. I liked what I saw from Sweet Tea (#9, R8) in her maiden breaking effort and I think she could do it again when facing winners for the first time. Well Spent (#8, R8) feels like the logical alternative there. I think there’s value to be had with both Coach Adams (#2, R9) and Hidden Promise (#9, R9) in the nightcap, and I can’t leave out the ultra-consistent V.I.P. Who (#7, R9), who won’t do much for the value, but is as game as they come. 

The Ticket

Race 8: 8,9

Race 9: 2,7,9

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