Oaklawn Park Racing Preview – 4/1/22 – By Eric Solomon

The first card in April at Oaklawn is a nine race program, highlighted by the return of the Grade 1 winning filly, Maracuja. She’s been on the bench since September, but she was very good this summer, beating champion filly, Malathaat, in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga. She faces five rivals in a race that could prepare her for a Grade 1 race in the near future. Keep an eye on how the track is playing today. Speed was very good yesterday, so we’ll see if that trend continues. Leading rider, David Cabrera, continues to have the hot hand, winning four races on the Thursday program to start the week

 

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

 

 

Race 1:

On paper, the Friday opener, which is a $10K N3L claiming sprint, feels like it will be fairly formful. I’m going to be using the duo that is coming out of a common $12,500 N3L claiming race in February. I’ll take Brother Aaron (#4) narrowly, as the top pick over Major Attraction (#7), strictly from a value perspective. Major Attraction was two lengths better than Brother Aaron in that last race. Both were claimed, with Major Attraction going to Broberg and Brother Aaron going to Al Cates. Broberg’s horses tend to get bet, and I think in this race, Major Attraction, who does feel like the most likely winner, will be bet down to closer to even money. Brother Aaron on the other hand goes for a lesser known barn. He has two snappy drills in the AM since his claim. He’s listed at 3-1 on the morning line, and if he stays at the number, I think the odds disparity would be too wide. I don’t think there’s that separating these two and I’ll be using both for the multi-race wagers. 

 

Race 2:

I’m not sure I see anyone pressuring Lucks Big Boy (#4) in the early stages of this $20K state bred maiden claiming race. He’s had nine chances to break his maiden, which is concerning. However, he ran a monster race three back when Chel-C Bailey put him on the front end and harnessed his early speed. He led all the way, but was nailed on the wire. He returned in a sprint, which isn’t what he seems to want to do, and thus, ran terribly. His last race was better, but Medellin struggled to get him to relax on the lead. Bailey returns aboard and there is absolutely no early speed on paper from anyone else. Jacks Spring Break (#7) is the logical alternative, running two strong races in a row. He came up just short at this level last month, finishing in front of the top pick. He was well behind him two starts ago, so pace will likely determine the outcome here. Cybertown (#6) sprinted in his debut last week, and was an even 5th, passing some tiring rivals late. He looked like a horse that could improve at longer distances.

 

Race 3:

Three and four year old fillies go six furlongs in this $40K maiden claiming race. I don’t think this is a particularly strong field for this level, and I suspect My Coralena, who beat Bad Outlook (#6) handily when facing $30K maiden claimers last out, would have been a favorite in this race prior to her maiden breaking score. As a result, I think Bad Outlook is the one to beat in her second career start. She got away toward the back of the field and may have lost a little more ground while trying to avoid a riderless horse to her outside. She finished with interest along the rail, accelerating nicely to get up for second once she was out of traffic. There’s less horses to deal with here and I think the afternoon experience will have come in handy. Cristian Torres is named to ride, but expect a jockey change, as he was injured in a spill here on Sunday. Que Pasa Mufasa (#7) is one of two first time starters for McLean Robertson in this race. She was a $10K purchase, so debuting for a tag is logical. Elvin Gonzalez has only won with 6% of his mounts at this meet, but his percentage goes up to 24% when riding for Robertson here, with a limited sample. Middie (#1) is the other firster he sends out. She’s a Midshipman homebred whose works are a little faster than her stablemates. While I don’t love the rail, she is also worth a look here. Zmuda (#4) is also worth using, despite making her 8th start today. She had a few bad races in a row, but she reverted to some of her better form last out. While the class level remains that same on paper, I feel this field is not as deep as her last race, assuming one of the first timers doesn’t freak.

Race 4:

Credit Enhancement (#8) gets this call in this time restricted $8K claiming race for fillies and mares. She’s been a popular filly at the claim box, selling in each of her last three starts. She’s been off since mid-January when she was decent third with open $6,250 claimers. Milligan moves her up with a tag, but actually finds a slightly softer field while doing so here. Boathouse View (#1A) is the part of the Diodoro entry that I prefer. Her stablemate, Invaluable (#1) was claimed for $30K in her last start, and now shows up here. She’s been a vet scratch in a similar race in the past, and she hasn’t recorded a work since March 10th. All of these are concerning signs for this mare. However, I’ll take the coverage with her stablemate, who is looking to rebound after a dull try with $10K beaten claimers. She was claimed out of that race by Diodoro, who moves her here off the layoff. Her spring/summer form from 2021 was fairly consistent, making her playable in this spot for me. Flatoutandfoxy (#6) might be the best chance to upset the apple cart in this one. She was second with open $6,250 claimers, while running with the waiver. She’s able to maintain the waiver once more at this level since she’s in for a tag that is greater than her claiming price. She ended 2021 winning three of her last four, and now makes her second start of 2022 after some time away. She’s a bit interesting to me here.

Race 5:

$16K state bred maiden claimers go six furlongs here in a race that is essentially a second division of yesterday’s nightcap. The three horses entered yesterday, Moonshine Surfer (#2), Vision of Elias (#7), and Justdennis (#8) all scratched and should be ready to roll today. Front end speed was pretty good yesterday, so that should favor the morning line favorite, Vision of Elias in this spot. He was near the front end in his first two races against better Arkansas bred runners. He came up empty in the stretch both times, but he’ll likely have an easier time on the front end this afternoon, assuming he breaks well. Other Times (#5) and Moonshine Surfer are both interesting prices in this spot. Other Times ran a decent race with $10K state bred maiden claimers two back when sprinting off the layoff. He acted up before the race and ran off, which could have affected his performance. He tried routing with open $20K maiden claimers last out, and was 5th beaten 15. I like him a bit cutting back and returning to a similar level where he ran a better race. I think he has more upside than some of the others here. Moonshine Surfer has a similar trajectory, sprinting twice with state bred maiden claimers, then faltering with open maiden claimers when trying a route of ground. He’s getting more class relief than Other Times, but he’s shown less on the track. 

Race 6:

A half dozen three year olds kick off the Late Pick-4 in an optional claiming/allowance race. I’m not sold on either of the Asmussen horses that figure to take money in here. Stellar Tap (#2) ran a solid race two back when dealing with a world of trouble at the Fair Grounds. I thought that if he could build off that effort, he had the potential to make some noise in the Rebel Stakes. Instead, he was extremely disappointing that day, never showing any life. The trouble line of being steadied was mild and didn’t appear to have any outcome on his performance. Concept (#5) has been away since the end of January when running a dull 4th place in the Riley Allison Derby at Sunland Park. Other than his sparkling effort in the Kip Deville Stakes going six furlongs, he really hasn’t performed that well in his other races. Ruggs (#6) has been disappointing in his last two starts at this level, but he has run into Zozos and We The People. I still think he might be better suited to one turn. I’ll cover with these three on deeper tickets, but I’m going to roll the dice with Clancy’s Pistol (#3) to keep on rolling. He was a dominating winner with $30K maiden claimers two back. He came back two weeks later after the Diodoro claim and defeated a small field of $50K starter allowance runners. He’s moving up in class, but he’s in better form than many of these.

 

Race 7: 

$16K N2L claimers will go one mile with the short stretch run here. I liked the maiden breaking effort from Outcome (#2) who has been improving through the maiden claiming ranks over the past few starts. He tries two turns for the first time, while finding a race that doesn’t have a ton of other horses that want to go early. I think Arrieta can use his inside draw to his advantage and dictate the terms of this one. First Rate (#1) could be a horse that is flying under the radar in this race. He continues to drop in class and is making his first start since the end of December. He ran fairly well off a similar layoff at Remington in October. He doesn’t have much early speed, but with his rail draw and a moderate tempo expected, he may be sitting closer than he’s been lately. Strike a Beat (#4) is the morning line favorite, and probably a horse that is worth covering in this spot. He makes his second start since Broberg claimed him for $10K back in February. David Cabrera had another four win day yesterday, so he continues to be red hot, making lots of very good decisions. 

 

Race 8:
The featured race is an optional $100K claiming/N4L allowance race for fillies and mares going 1 mile and 1/16. This race marks the return of the winner of the 2021 Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks, Maracuja (#3). She makes her four year old debut for Rob Atras in a reasonably soft spot. She ran her best career race that afternoon, when making her first start since a midpack finish in the Kentucky Oaks. She was dull in the Alabama, but ran a better race in the Cotillion at Parx to wrap up her three year old season. Atras brings her back conservatively, three weeks before the Apple Blossom or five weeks before the La Troienne, both Grade 1 contests that could be on her radar, assuming she runs her race today. I will use her on the A line, but the top pick for me is the one that she’s going to have to run down in the stretch, Lil Kings Princess (#1). She started her career on the grass, but she’s made considerable improvements since moving to the main track. She’s been ultra sharp in both of her last two races. Speed was good yesterday, and she has the best early foot and the rail. It will be interesting to see who John Ortiz employs to replace the injured Cristian Torres, but there are many decent choices available. 

 

Race 9: 

We’ll end the day with an eight horse $30K starter allowance for fillies and mares going six furlongs. Chakra (#8) is posted outside in a race where there are definitely some horses that want to be forwardly placed. She seems to have overcome her early meet woes where she was dreadful. She’s proven that she can win while rating, whereas the other contenders seem to be one run horses. Slushy (#7) looked like a different horse when breaking her maiden off the layoff in her three year old debut. She has some upside in this race, taking a big step forward, while adding Lasix. Anderson has good numbers with horses in their second start off the layoff. She may have longshot potential here. Airborne Gal (#6) ran a monster race last out , narrowly missing with $30K N3L claimers. She was claimed by Hartman, who has been on a roll at this meet. She put two nice races together to start her career last year, so I’d be willing to take a chance with her, in hopes that she doesn’t bounce off that last effort. 

 

Favorite Bet Today: Pick 3, Race 5 ($27 Ticket, $3 Base Wager)

I like the upstart Clancy’s Pistol (#3, R6) to beat some of the higher profile fillies in that allowance race. In the Pick 3, I’ll single her, and hope to catch some prices on either end.

The Ticket

Race 5: 2,5,7

Race 6: 3

Race 7: 1,2,4

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