There are just six days left in the longest meet (in terms of duration) in Oaklawn Park history. There are nine races on the program this afternoon, which gets underway at 1:00 CT/2:00 ET. The featured 8th race is an optional claiming/N1X for fillies and mares, which looks like it could be a good betting race.
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!
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|2||4||4||1,3||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|5||5||1,5||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|6||1||1,5||7||DBL, PK3, PK4|
This $12,500 maiden claimer is a tough way to start off the week. I ended up with Tropinka (#1) on top, hoping she can rebound off a tough effort last out with $30K maiden claimers. She was part of a pretty heavy pace battle when the horse to her outside came into her lane, forcing her to steady. She lost interest after that effort, fading toward the back of the pack in a race where she was well-backed. The rail wasn’t the best place to be last week, so we’ll hope that the track evens out to start this one. I’m not sure what to expect from Kathys Cup of Joe (#8) off the extended layoff for Chris Hartman. I don’t typically like horses coming back off long layoffs and dropping from maiden special weight company to maiden claiming races. However, it’s not like she was setting the world on fire in those races at Remington, and she is a homebred as opposed to an expensive auction purchase. Chris Hartman has good numbers off the layoff, so she’s one that I could be willing to take a chance with. I would be watching her in the paddock and on the track though to see if there’s any clues there. Dial It Up a Notch (#2) is another Diodoro claim and drop horse. He won with a horse like that this week, so despite the red flags, it’s hard to toss these horses. The value still will likely lie elsewhere, but I still feel the need to have her covered.
Another claiming race, and another Diodoro claim and drop situation. Although, dropping from $12,500 claimers to the $6,250 level isn’t as pronounced of a drop as some of the others that we have seen. Regardless, I don’t think either half of his entry taking this drop is a slam dunk. I like Promising Shoes (#4) in this race for Karl Broberg. He was a two time winner at Sam Houston with conditioned $5K claimers before shipping here to compete in state bred allowance company. He ran against some of the better Arkansas breds in training that afternoon, and while he didn’t embarrass himself, he simply wasn’t as good. This is significant class relief from his last race, and he’s reunited with jockey Freddy Manrrique. While he hasn’t ridden much on this oval, he’s clicked at 17% in 2022 and he won aboard this guy three starts back in Texas. Cypriano (#1) is the more potent half of the Diodoro entry, coming in from the Fair Grounds. He’s riding high on a three race win streak, which is why I’m a bit perplexed by the claim and drop gambit with this one. If he’s right, he’s the one to beat, but this seems like an odd spot for him. His stablemate, California Swing (#1A) has been a popular claimer at this meet, but his claiming tag keeps decreasing. His last few races have not been good, so it’s fair wonder if he’s headed off form. Cohen is named to ride both, so it remains to be seen if both will go. Stock Deal (#3) had a two race win streak snapped last out when faltering in starter allowance company. He didn’t break sharply that day and was never involved. This is class relief, so there’s hope that he could return to form at this level. I feel like 7-2 is a little light, however, this field is not very deep.
This is the third straight race with a Diodoro claim and drop horse. Motion Picture (#7) was claimed for $40K is his last start, and is now entered in a $25K N2L claiming race, with some slowish workouts to prepare for his return. I’m not sure if he’s making a push to try to catch Asmussen in the final two weeks of the meet (down 13 races) or just looking to liquidate some of his stable, in advance of this lucrative meet winding down. Regardless, I feel this move makes this a very complicated early sequence to prepare for. To me, the month gap in the works, and the two slow drills since the gap feel like a red flag confirmation for me on this horse. River Redemption (#6) is the top pick here. He was a winner first of the claim three back, beating a $50K maiden claiming field on this oval. He’s struggled in his last two races against $50K and $40K N2L claimers. This is a logical and likely necessary drop for a horse that finds a suspect field for this level. Genaro Garcia also sends out Pure Rocket (#3) who was last seen facing Motion Picture running in $40K N2L company. He was away slow that day and finished 6th, beaten 10+ lengths, and about 7 and ½ lengths behind Motion Picture. He’s an improving three year old, so I could see him taking a step forward in this race after two months away. Stayin’ Out Late (#5) takes a big drop in class after showing no interest in his return to the races. His form here from 2021 would easily beat these, but there’s no guarantee he’s still interested in racing. I’ll watch him on the track for clues, and cover him on deeper tickets.
Arkansas bred fillies and mares go six furlongs under optional $25K claiming/N1X allowance conditions. Euro Me (#6) has cleared this condition, so she’s entered for the $25K tag, while making her first start two months after being claimed. Something mild was likely amiss, since she’s just getting back on track at the end of this meet. Typically, with the lucrative purses for Arkansas breds and Oaklawn being the only game in town, I’d have to think missing that time was not part of the plan when Asmussen claimed her. He is showing confidence, racing her for a higher tag, and if she can run back to her last start, she should be very tough. She’ll be a short price though. I’ll cover with her, but I’ll try to beat her with My Dams Attitude (#7) who broke her maiden earlier in the meet with state bred maiden allowance types. She was away slow in her first race against winners, and her last two races came at two turns. I like the cutback in distance for her today, and I like that Francisco Arrieta is back aboard after not riding her in her last two tries. There isn’t much speed signed on, which could benefit Mocha Kiss (#4) for Shea Stuart and Chel-C Bailey. She’s been in the money in her last three starts at this level and could definitely be dangerous if she’s allowed to set a moderate pace.
More Arkansas bred fillies and mares go here, this race being for conditioned $12,500 claimers at six furlongs. I’m going to try to get out of this race, using only two. Tiger Bait (#5), making her second start off the Matt Williams claim, makes a lot of sense here. She was claimed with open $10K state bred claimers two back, in a race where she had some traffic hiccups and finished 4th. She came back to face open, time restricted, $10K claimers, which is a considerably better level than what she’s facing here. She outran her odds that day, finishing 4th. She runs for a higher tag today, but gets notable class relief, which is an angle that I really like playing. It can often lead to creating some decent value, and I’m thinking 9-2 (ML) feels right. Spurwink Lane (#1) has speed from the rail, which wasn’t a great asset last week. However, she has been competitive with similar and better fields than this group, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see her take them all the way. I’m not in love with the morning line favorite, Flowersforshantell (#9). She ran well to beat $25K N2L state bred claimers last out, but she’s not the most consistent filly. I’m also not crazy about dropping in for a $12,500 tag off a win. I would prefer to see her entered in the previous race, hinting that she might not be at her very best.
The Late Pick-4 sequence starts off with a $12,500 starter allowance which drew a competitive field of eight. I’m thinking the race sets up nicely for Win With Pride (#1) if he’s able to regain his better form off the Diodoro claim. I always like to see a horse that was claimed from their last start and moved into a protected spot. Even if it feels like the new trainer is reaching, it shows that they think the horse is doing well and is valuable on the track. He was very good three back when making his local debut with $16K claimers, while entered with the waiver. He struggled in his last two races, when facing similar, but he joins a new barn that has a good track record hitting with horses in their first start off the claim. I think he can strike while sitting off a competitive pace on the front end. Secretary At War (#5) is a consistent runner that has finished first or second in his last six starts at this meet. He cuts back after running a solid race for Norman Ashauer at a mile last out. Six furlongs is his better trip, and he’s maintained good form despite running for a lower percentage barn. This eight year old gelding still has a lot of life on the track. Carl G (#7) was third on a sloppy track when facing similar in his first start off the claim last out. Most of his best work has been on the synthetics, but he has been improving on the main track in his two tries.
I’m going to go price hunting in this $10K time restricted claimer and make Believeinholidays (#7) my top pick, making his second start off the layoff for William Martin. He had exactly one year between starts, returning to the races on 4/9/22 after running his previous start on 4/9/21. He was entered in a $16K claimer going six furlongs, and it looked like it was too late before he found his best stride. Prior to the break, his best races were at longer distances, so I think the longer trip today is a plus. If Skyscanner runs well in the previous race, that would certainly flatter him here. Diodoro has another entry where David Cohen is named to ride both. Colosi (#1A) ran a clunker last out in starter allowance company. However, his five prior starts would all make him competitive at this level. I think a reversal of form is certainly within the realm of possibilities. I think 4-1 might be a pipe dream if he runs, but if he’s around that number, I’m definitely interested. River Cactus (#1) is not as desirable to me, as he was claimed for $12,500 two months ago and is just getting back on the track now. His start three back at Hawthorne was solid, but his two local efforts on this course aren’t great. If Colosi doesn’t run, Red Again (#3) would likely be one I’d upgrade. He was claimed by Melton Wilson, who is essentially the program trainer for Wayne Potts while he’s out on suspension. His last was almost too bad to believe. His recent form has been up and down, but he could offer value if you can catch him on the upside.
Fillies and mares take the spotlight in the optional $25K claiming/N1X allowance feature, headlined by the daughter of champion female sprinter, Groupie Doll. Tap For Me (#9) came up short when going a mile at this level last out. The horse that beat her, Guana Cay, isn’t that great, and was very surprised to see her pass Tap For Me in the stretch. That effort definitely soured me a little bit on this filly. I’ll use her on the B line in this race, but I think I would have preferred to see her wait one for a seven furlong or a one turn mile race at this condition over at Churchill. I’m seeing a lot of speed signed for this race, and I’m thinking that A Broken Breeze (#3) could be the one to run them down if she’s able to duplicate her last effort. She closed into a slower pace to beat optional claiming/starter allowance company last out. Most of her work has come on synthetics, but she’s won 2 of 3 career starts on traditional dirt. Sundial (#1) was very effective coming from off the pace last year at Turfway, and perhaps she could upset her stablemate in her third start off the layoff today. She improved last out from a dull effort in her seasonal debut. She did break her maiden her last year on this course and she ran an improved race in the third start of her form cycle last season. On deeper tickets, Lady Valentine (#10) is a sneaky claim by Diodoro that he brings back in a protected spot after a two month freshening. She’s a filly that Pletcher couldn’t really figure out, but one of her best efforts was going two turns on the turf at Belmont. She’s been sprinting of late, but I think she’s a horse that will be better going longer. Her works are decent and she’s likely to be completely overlooked in this spot.
The day ends with Arkansas bred maiden special weight fillies and mares going six furlongs. This race starts with Pattern Bet (#11) who has been second in all four career starts, including a second place finish in the Rainbow Miss Stakes when facing winners last out. She’s been right there in three of her four starts, with the only exception being when she ran into a very talented filly, Summer Shoes, two back. I think she gets it done today. If she doesn’t, I suspect it’ll be one of the first time starters that upsets the apple cart. I’ll look to the outside with Rivercrest Girl (#12). Danny Pish, who typically races most of the year in Texas, sends this Arkansas bred here to race once with state bred company before likely facing open company at Lone Star. Her works there are decent and the outside post isn’t the worst place to be for a first time starter. May Disco (#8) is another live firster from Ronald Westermann. Her works are okay for a barn that has connected with the debut bomb at this meet already.