The Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap highlights the 12 program this afternoon at Oaklawn. Jackie’s Warrior makes his awaited return as a four year old and faces five others, including the winner of the Whitmore Stakes here last month, Bob’s Edge. The first post is scheduled for 12:10 CT/1:10 ET. Personally, it’s been a crazy week at work, so the analysis that’ll I posting this morning will be the abridged version.
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||1,5,7||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|5||3||3,6,8||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|6||3||3,6||4||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|8||1||1,3,6||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|9||6||6||8||DBL. PK3, PK4|
The opener is an interesting $10K starter allowance where every runner was claimed in their last start. I give the edge to Chapel Barn (#2) with Rosario for Diodoro, shipping in from the Fair Grounds. He’s been very good in his last four starts and now he gets a rider upgrade for a barn that is opting to keep him protected. Dr Forman (#4) is the other one that I’d use here. He’s an upgrade on a wet track and he likes this course, winning three of five times here. Apprentice Brianne Culp is given the call for new trainer, John Cox.
I’m going to try to beat the Diodoro horse that’s first off the claim in this spot, trying to go three deep. With a sloppy course, at least at the start of the day, Bitcoin Baker (#1) interests me at a price. His best career speed came in the slop when he was 5th, beaten 11+ by a very good allowance field. He didn’t lose that race because of the conditions, but because of the competition. He was given two months off and returns at a level where he seems to belong. Appraisal (#5) makes some sense, dropping in class after struggling with $30K-$25K N2L claimers last out. I don’t love that he’s in for a tag lower than he was claimed for two starts back, but he makes a lot of sense in this race. Road Bible (#7) was claimed by Asmussen last week after finishing 2nd as the favorite in a similar race. He’s been knocking on the door, and he’s one that might appreciate the wet track.
I don’t have a strong opinion in this $20K maiden claimer. I do wonder want decisions go into dropping a horse from a maiden special weight company into the different levels of maiden claiming company. The drop from the maiden allowance to the $20K seems steep for a horse in her third start that cost her owners $100K. That’s what we have with Midnight Mistress (#1) here for Rosario and Asmussen. I’ll cover with her, but I’ll try a pair of modest first time starters on top. I think there’s a little more value Chaos Magic (#8) on the outside for Allen Milligan. I’ll also include Hartman’s Outlaw Queen (#6) on the A line here.
I’m not sure anyone will be able to go with St Andrews (#1) in the early stages of this optional claiming/N1X allowance where everyone is entered under allowance conditions. He was a game 4th behind Pioneer of Medina in his last start, which was an allowance race on the Lecomte undercard at the Fair Grounds. He was given a few months off and has been working well in the morning. Rosario ends up here and not on Presidential (#3), who is also coming in from the Fair Grounds for Asmussen. He’ll be on my B line, making his third start off the layoff. He was entered in the Lecomte in his first race of the year, where he split the field, finishing 5th. He was 5th again behind We All See It, who ran a big race and is entered later in the day in the Lexington at Keeneland. He could take a step forward here, but I worry that he’ll be pace compromised. Happy Boy Rocket (#5) was my pick in the Tampa Bay Derby, which proved to be a terrible decision. Mott ships him here and takes off the blinkers. He’s also been working well, but like Presidential, I worry that he’ll be up against it from a pace standpoint.
The first of two divisions of a state bred, $12,500 maiden claimer goes here. (Div 2 in Race 12). These races almost always feel like spread races, since consistency is not a hallmark at this level. Two horses that I was looking at playing both scratched, so I landed on Aux Arcs (#3) after making a big step forward in maiden allowance company. He now drops back to the maiden claiming level, which is logical. If he can run a similar race, or better he’ll be in the conversation. Kilgore (#8) is the morning line favorite, and deservedly so as he has the best figures in the group. He drops to the lowest level after giving up the lead late with $30K maiden claimers last out. Hightail Cowboy (#6) might offer decent value, and he’s one I’d consider on deeper tickets. He was well backed in his local debut, but has some traffic troubles before backing out. He gets Isaac Castillo aboard today after having the race over the track and could easily go higher than his 10-1 morning line price here. I could give him another shot at those odds.
Seven Nation Army (#6) is the main danger, hitting the board two back in the King Cotton Stakes here. He got a questionable ride from the apprentice, Rene Diaz, who hasn’t ridden much on this course in his last start. He’s handled a sloppy course in the past and may offer a little more value than Isolate (#3). He is the morning line favorite and the speed of the speed in this optional claiming/conditioned allowance where everyone has entered under the allowance conditions. He can handle an off track and has two straight open lengths victories for Tom Amoss. These two make the most sense, but if someone really pushes Isolate up front, it could set things up for No Shirt No Shoes (#4). He feels like more of an underneath horse to me, but he is making his third start off the layoff, so he could be sitting on one of his better efforts.
If closers have a shot today, the starts should be aligning for Well Spent (#6). She’s moving up in class, but she lands with a field that has a ton of early speed. I think this a race where they’ll be battling early. She has proven that she can come from off the pace on a wet track, which is important, because some horses don’t respond well to having mud in their face. Elvin Gonzalez will need to time his ride well to get her home, but I think she could come over the top and pass them all. If closers have a chance in some of the previous races, she’s a single for me.
There’s a lot of horses that haven’t won a race in a long time in this conditioned $12,500 claiming race. Loch Garman (#1) beat a softer field of $10K N2L claimers in his last start, and I think we haven’t seen the best version if him yet at this meet. He;s drawn well where he can take the early lead if he wants it, but he doesn’t necessarily have to get it. He can handle an off track and might be tough with this group. Awesome Saturday (#6) fits from a speed figure perspective, getting back on track last out after a pair of dull efforts. He hasn’t won since February of 2020 though, so proceed with some caution at short odds. Arrival (#3) is another one that hasn’t won since early in 2020. He was claimed by Diodoro and his last race was one of his better efforts in a while. He’ll be tough if he can build off that race.
I really like Brice (#6) in this spot, after returning to his better form in his most recent start. He reunites with Isaac Castillo, who gets along so well with this horse. They teamed up for four straight wins at Monmouth last summer, including a score in the slop. He was crushed at this level here three back against a better field when he wasn’t as sharp from the gate. I think he sits the perfect trip, just off Pats Property (#4), and puts this group away late. I’ll cover with Hunka Burning Love (#8) on deeper tickets in this race. He’s a total pro, winning 18 of his 59 career races. He doesn’t have a great record on this oval, but his last two have been sharp. If they go too fast up front, he’ll make them pay.
This is a wild condition, which is a $140K maiden special weight race for three year olds where Hall of Trainers are preferred. I’ll try to beat the favorite, Chileno (#10) here. I don’t love the draw and the fact that he’s winless in eight starts, doesn’t inspire much confidence to take a short price. Battle Call (#3) ran well when he was claimed for $75K in his debut here. He made his second start for Hollendorfer, who also trains Life On the Nile (#7). In that race, he was wide on both turns and still finished a respectable 5th. I think he draws better and should be very tough with this group. I think the second time starter, Kunshan Bridge (#6) is also interesting in here for James DiVito. He was away slow in his debut when going six furlong. DiVito has good numbers with horses in their second start and stretching out from sprints. Don’t sleep on thiis modest $10K son of Protonico. Brad Cox sends out the first time starter, Best Actor (#8) for the Wests. He looks like a well meant colt who has been working nicely in the mornings.
Race 11: The $500K Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap
Jackie’s Warrior (#5) makes his four year old debut in this sprint race which only drew a field of six. Perhaps the presence of this very talented colt encouraged some others to look elsewhere. It also doesn’t help that Keeneland and Aqueduct ran graded stakes races at seven furlongs last weekend. His only bad race at one turn came in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint last November. Prior to that, his only loss at one turn was neck loss to Drain the Clock in the Woody Stephens at Belmont last summer. He gets Lasix for the first time today and he looks too good for these on paper. Bob’s Edge (#6) does love racing here, and he would be the logical one to unseat the big favorite. He’s a closing sprinter, so if Jackie’s Warrior is a little short off the layoff, he could benefit.
The week ends with the second division of an Arkansas bred $12,500 maiden claimer. It might have been better for Jackys Back (#4) to have drawn into the first division, as the track will likely be drying out some as the day goes on. However, his fastest races came on wet tracks. He looks to be rounding back to better form after some poor efforts over the winter. Botany (#8) makes sense here, although I’m not loving the cut back in distance after a strong two turn effort. However, with the meet winding down, beggars can’t be choosers, and there won;t be opportunities to face straight Arkansas breds again until December. Obviously Too (#10) is not without a chance. His last race wasn’t good, but he was acting up prerace. His debut against better wasn’t bad, so he could figure in this race.
Favorite Bet of the Day: Midcard Pick-5 (Race 5): ($27 Ticket, $1 Base Wager)
With two horses in the sequence that I feel could be solid singles as non-favorites, I’ll focus my attention on this wager. If the track is a conveyor belt in the first four races, I’ll likely change how I play this ticket. However, if closers have a shot, Well Spent (#6, R7) should get the ideal set up. I really like Brice (#6, R9) in the close out leg as well, getting his favorite rider back, while coming back to his better form.
Race 5: 3,6,8
Race 6: 3,4,6
Race 7: 6
Race 8: 1,3,6
Race 9: 6