One of the biggest races of the meet is the Grade 1 Apple Blossom, which is the 11th race on this excellent 12 race program this afternoon at Oaklawn. The Kentucky Oaks winner, Secret Oath, is looking to win her 5th career race on this oval. She’s up against the multiple Grade 1 winner, Clairiere. There’s only four runners in that race though, and I think there’s a chance for an upset. The Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap is also run on this card, which gets underway at the usual 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||2||1,2,6||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|5||6||4,6,9||2||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|6||5||5||2,3,10||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|8||7||7,8||14||6||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|9||5||5||9||2||DBL. PK3, PK4|
Race 3, #9 One Ten Stadium (8-5 ML):
There are two heavy favorites in this state bred starter allowance and the conditions appear to favor the very promising colt, Willow Creek Road (#2), however, horses that are sired by Hightail have struggled in two turn races, going 0-15 in their first try in a route race. The dam’s other foal to race was dead last when routing for the first time. While he looks like a horse that could get the distance, and I’ve been a big fan of his first two career starts, I’m going to try to be singled to One Ten Stadium, who ran very well in his first try at two turns, when facing a much better field last time out. He came within less than a length of beating a very accomplished Arkansas bred, Man in the Can, that afternoon. I think he’ll move forward in his second start at two turns.
Race 6, #5 Immoral (10-1 ML):
There’s two horses that are going to take to bulk of the public’s wagering dollars in this race, so I’m hoping that this son of Into Mischief is overlooked. Draw a line through his last effort with $16K N2L claimers. He caught a sloppy track and tried going one mile for the first time since his second career start. Both of his efforts at two turns were not good. He was claimed out of that by Greg Compton, who has good numbers first off the claim. He brings him back to a sprint where he should be able to be gaining on the leaders late. In my opinion, using the morning line, he offers the best value in this race.
Race 9, The Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap:
There is a ton of speed signed on the top sprint race of this meet, perhaps even more so than in the Whitmore last month. Tejano Twist (#5) got the right setup that day and came home an easy winner, and I think he’s going to be able to do the same thing today. He’s been on quite a run, winning four of his last five starts, including a pair of stakes races. He continues to improve for Chris Hartman, and he;s quickly becoming one of the better sprinters in the country. There is a lot of talent in this field, so I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to get him close to his 5-2 morning line. If so, I’d be comfortable making a large win bet, assuming that the track is playing fairly and closers can get home. Payne (#9) is one of three runners that Asmussen sends out in this spot, and he’s the longest price of the group. He’s another one that could get rolling late, while closing into what figures to be a very salty pace. At 20-1 or better, he’s worth playing on top for a few dollars, but he’s definitely a horse that will be featured underneath in my vertical exotics tickets. Skelly (#2) might be overmatched in his first sprint race, but his last race against a very good N2X allowance field was very impressive. He opened up after setting strong fractions on the front end. I think there might be too much speed for him to have to deal with in this spot, but Asmussen does a great job developing sprinters on the main track, and this one is rounding into some very good form that is too good for me to completely ignore.
Race 11, The Grade 1 Apple Blossom:
It’s a bit of a bummer that one of the most prestigious races of the meet only drew four runners. The top two, Secret Oath (#1) and Clairiere (#4) are definitely Grade 1 caliber horses, but only two other runners joining them is not great. I do wish the racing office would consider moving this race to maybe the week before or after the Arkansas Derby next year. There really isn’t a race at Keeneland in the spring that would take horses away from this field, but in three weeks, there’s the Grade 1 La Troienne at Churchill on the Kentucky Oaks card. Many of the big outfits want to have their horses running on those days at Churchill, and right now, there’s not too many horses running back in three weeks. Oaklawn has a very nice stakes series in place for older fillies and mares, and I think they’d be able to attract more horses for this race if they moved it up a bit on their schedule.
That being said, there is absolutely no pace signed on, so I believe that Hot and Sultry (#2) is going to have every chance to defeat to two giants in this race. She’s an improving four year old Speightster filly that ran a good race to be 4th behind these two runners. She was beaten less than four lengths that day, going off at 16-1. Secret Oath and Clairiere are at their best when they can make one big move, so I do think Hot and Sultry will be able to walk up front. If she was ever going to beat these two, today would be the day, and if we can get close to 5-1, I’d be willing to take that chance.
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