The last day of four day a week racing starts at Oaklawn starts with a nine race program that is highlighted by a state bred allowance race with many stakes winners in the 8th race. While their are more accomplished runners, I like a longshot in that race that is moving up in class, but is better suited for the two turn distance there. As per his agent, Jose Santos, it appears that leading rider, David Cabrera, will not be back in the saddle for the remainder of the meet. While he remains in the hospital, we wish for a speedy and full recovery to a rider that was absolutely on fire prior to his accident. Racing returns on Friday, April 15th with a two day week, as there is no racing next Sunday (Easter Sunday).
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||6||5,6||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|5||7||4,7||1,2||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|6||8||2,8||3,4,10||DBL, PK3, PK4|
I think Slick Silver (#2) is going to be very tough in the Sunday opener, which is an open $8,000-$6,250 claiming race at 1 mile and 1/16. He was posted wide and remained wide pretty much that way all the way around the track when facing time restricted $8K claimers in his last start. He’s been claimed in his last two starts, now starting for Diodoro for the first time. This is not the sharpest group for this condition, so I think this is a good spot for him to to get right. On deeper tickets, I’ll cover with the 8-5 morning line favorite, Coal Truth (#7). From a figures standpoint, he has been running races that would be very competitive with this field. However, he’s over a year removed from his last win. You have to go back to July to find the last race where he’s been close. He continues to drop in class, and this may be the softest field he’s seen yet. However, at short odds, he’s going to be more of a prove it horse for me.
$16K maiden claimers go 1 mile and 1/16 in the first leg of the Early Pick-4. This is a paceless race with many professional maidens. Practical Man (#6) didn’t show much in his debut when going this distance with $30K maiden claimers. He showed a little early interest before backpedaling through the field. Maker has good numbers with second time starters, and he might be quick enough to make the early lead. If so, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him start to get brave. La Flecha (#5) is dropping after two straight rough efforts with better maiden claimers. He at least has a few second place finishes to his name, which is more than many of these can say. He’ll be one of many with a jockey change, as it appears that David Cabrera will unfortunately be sidelined through the remainder of the meet.
Canadian Ginger (#5) went off form for a little while, but she looked to have turned a corner last out when beating $25-$20K claimers on this oval. That effort propels her into this $30K starter allowance, which is very competitive for the short field. She could be the lone speed in this race, and that’s when she’s run some of her best career tries over the years. Ghaaleb The Great (#3) has been very strong in her races since shipping in from Illinois. While she’s done her best work away from Oaklawn, she’s a closer that’s as honest as they come. She’ll be closing late, but I’m not sure it’ll be enough to beat the top pick. Headband (#1) was on the shelf a few times, and is now trying to gain some momentum back after a dull try with better horses last out. She’s eligible for this race because she broke her maiden with $30K maiden claimers in one of her first few starts. Since then, she‘s been on a steady diet of allowance races, never running below that level for competition. This is definite class relief, but I’m not completely sold that it’ll be enough. I’ll cover with her on deeper tickets.
An evenly matched field of optional $100K claiming/N1X allowance runners go six furlongs here. I like the class dropping, Cairama (#6) to come from last to first in this race today. He was overmatched in the Smarty Jones and the Rebel Stakes in his first two starts of 2022. He was third in the Advent Stakes back on opening day here. He’s been consistently facing stakes types since breaking his maiden, so the class relief should be beneficial for this son of Cairo Prince. There’s some decent early speed signed on, so I think he’ll sit the right trip. Jerry’s Eighty (#5) is responsible for two of trainer Kenny Smith’s three wins at this current meet. He moves up in class after a pair of strong wins with open claimers and starter allowance types. He’s had the edge on Swift Tap (#2) in both of their last two starts. On deeper tickets, Sam Houston invader, Philo Beddoe (#4) is in for the tag because he’s the only one in this group to have cleared the N1X condition. He was a part of a decent pace battle last out when trying two turns for the first time. He faded to 4th, beaten 10 lengths, but the winner, Paluxy, ran a huge race that day. He returns to a sprint in a race where he might have to avoid a duel with the Louisiana bred, Charco (#1) in order to run his best race. However, he could be overlooked while entered in an evenly matched group.
I’d want a bit of coverage in this $10K N2L claiming race at nine furlongs. I’ll give the edge to Mo Heat (#7) who broke his maiden with $10K maiden claimers at this distance two weeks ago. He’s run two of his better races at this longer distance, finishing a game second at Saratoga over the summer with maiden claimers. That is a bit odd to me, as his dam was the champion sprinter, Xtra Heat. It took him 13 starts to graduate to facing winners, but I’ll hope the light bulb went off. Graves Mill Road (#4) is the morning line favorite coming off a dull effort in the mud at this level. Prior to his last race, he was on the board in five straight, including a maiden breaking score at Canterbury. He was claimed last out by Diodoro, so there is certainly the possibility of a forward move. Mega Max (#1) was closer to the pace last out and he ran a better race after a string of losses by double digit lengths. Kelsi Harr gets the return call, and the rail post should allow him to sit a similar trip today. Knievel (#2) had some trouble at the outset of his first start when facing winners in a $20K N2L claiming race last month. If you’re willing to forgive that start, he was making slow, but steady progress with maiden claimers, until breaking through at the beginning of March. He’s another one that could fit nicely with this group.
The Late Pick-4 starts off with a $10K maiden claiming sprint race for three year olds and up. The only certainty is that someone has to win this race. There’s major question marks with the three shorter prices on the morning line, Project Thunder (#3), Lake Tahoe (#4) and Demuro (#10). Project Thunder has one start on the turf with maiden special weight types at Gulfstream, which came over a year ago. He reappears here with five published works since January 30th, and drops to the bottom maiden claiming level. Lake Tahoe pulled up as the 3-2 favorite with $30K maidens last out and was vanned off. He’s worked okay since then, and now also drops to the bottom level in his return. Demuro (#10) didn’t run a step in his first start of the year last month. He also drops to the bottom today after showing a little bit of potential last year. I’ll cover with all three, because this is not a strong field, but I’ll try to beat them with a pair of class droppers. Brady Boucher (#8) has gotten closer when facing $20K maiden claimers in his last two starts. If the favorites aren’t what they were, which is a legitimate possibility, he’d be getting significant class relief. We Thank You (#2) has been away since January and returned as a gelding for the first time. He’s never sprinted on a fast track, which may mean something at this bottom level. His race on New Years Day in the slop wasn’t awful when facing $30K maiden claimers. He’s another one that probably fits better with this group while dropping in class.
I think there’s some value to be had in this $8K starter allowance race where they’ll go one mile. Some of the runners are better sprinters in this race, so I’m thinking that Delta invader, Buxterhooter (#4), riding high off a two race wins streak there, makes some sense here. He’s an 11 time winner in 35 career starts and he’s coming off a strong performance in a mile race against open $7,500 claimers. He’s run well at Evangeline in the past, so he’s not just a bullring specialist. He’s a consistent type that might offer some value here while shipping in from a smaller circuit. Coach Adams (#3) was a Jerry Hollendorfer reclaim, and the fact that he’s entered here makes me think that he’s keeping him protected to bring him back to the mid-Atlantic region after this race. He’s in his third tour of duty for this trainer and ownership group. He ran very well in October at Delaware for them and he’s reunited with Isaac Castillo who has ridden him to his last two victories. Castillo won twice on yesterday’s card, so he’s definitely gaining confidence while riding over this oval. On deeper tickets, Something Natural (#6) is a shorter price coming back after a strong effort with similar last out. He has lacked consistency at this meet, but he was stringing decent efforts together in Kentucky in the fall. If he can duplicate his last, he’ll be tough, but he’ll likely be a short price when doing so.
The featured race today is an allowance for Arkansas bred runners going 1 mile and 1/16. Many of the runners in here are better suited to sprinting, so I’m going to take a chance with Promising Shoes (#2) who is definitely a two turn horse. He’s moving up in class after winning two straight at Sam Houston with restricted $5K claimers. While he’s facing tougher horses, the fields that he beat in Texas weren’t bad, so I don’t think it’s a massive class jump. While there are several state bred stakes winners here, many of their wins and best races have been at six furlongs. While some of the better runners might be struggling to find in the last ¼ of a mile. I think he’ll be gaining. Man in the Can (#4) is the logical backup, making his first start since January when he laid over a similar field. He’s one that gets better when he’s consistently racing though, so the near three month vacation, especially during this lucrative meet, is a concern. Ry Eiklberry, who has been winning 25% of his races in 2022, mostly riding at Sam Houston this winter, is riding here today, and he gets the call from Ron Moquett.
The nightcap is a $20K maiden claimer for Arkansas breds. Luis Contreras is back from Keeneland and he pilots Kissofthenile (#8) for D. Wayne Lukas. This one ran a decent third in a driving snowstorm two starts back, so like many of Lukas’ horses, he’s definitely tough. He regressed last out when losing to Whelen Springs in maiden special weight company. That one was a dominating winner of the Rainbow Stakes yesterday, which speaks to the quality of that field. This is a considerably softer bunch, that he should have the upper hand against, likely at a short price. Professional maiden, J’s Little Man (#5) is dropping in class for his 13th start. He’s been improving and may finally get the right field to beat after finding tougher rivals in his last several. The winner of his last race, Forsaken, was cooked in a speed duel in the nightcap yesterday when facing winners for the first time.
Favorite Bet Today: Daily Double, Race 7 ($40 Bet, $5 Base Wager)
I like playing a daily double, especially in spots where I think some of the shorter prices are vulnerable. I like both Coach Adams (#3, R7) and Buxterhooter (#4, R7) quite a bit in the 7th race, where some of the shorter prices might not want the distance. Both runners are at 6-1 on the morning line, which suggests one or both could easily be overlooked in the wagering. In the 8th race, Promising Shoes (#2, R8) is 10-1 on the morning line, and while moving up in class, I’m not certain the jump is as big as it looks on paper. Many of the more accomplished runners have not been as solid when going two turns. I will cover with the morning line favorite, Man in the Can (#4, R8) in that race. If he’s right while coming off the layoff, he might crush this field like he did last out in January.
Race 7: 3,4
Race 8: 2,4