Oaklawn Park Racing Preview – 4/7/22 – By Eric Solomon

This is the last Thursday program of the meet, as for the final four weeks of the meet, we go back to a three day, Friday-Sunday race week. The nine race card this afternoon is highlighted by an optional claiming/allowance sprint for three year old fillies. That’s one of five races on the program exclusively for three year olds. First post is 1:00 local time (2:00 EST).


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 7 3,5,7 DBL, PK5
2 2 1,2 DBL, PK3, PK4
3 7 7,9 4 DBL, PK3
4 6 6 3 DBL, PK3
5 3 3,8 6,9 DBL, PK3, PK5
6 5 5 2,6 DBL, PK3, PK4
7 10 1,2,10 DBL, PK3
8 4 4 2,3 DBL
9 8 8 1



Race 1:

Filly and mare $10K maiden claimers start the day in a 1 mile and 1/16 route. Miss Alpha Bella (#1) is going to take money, and I think she’s a must use underneath in the vertical exotics. However, the reality is that she is an 0-20 horse for a reason. Today might finally be the day, as I think this is the softest field she’s seen yet. However, I simply can’t trust her. I’ll try using three on the A line to beat her. Born Into Bad News (#7) has a pedigree that would favor long distance turf races, so I didn’t expect much from her in her debut when facing $20K maiden claimers going six furlongs. She had some issues at the start, being bumped hard multiple times by the horse inside her. She was far behind a hot pace early and was struggling to find her footing. She was making up ground late, suggesting that she could possibly improve in her next start. I think she’ll appreciate the added distance and the soft competition in this race. Final Table (#3) improved in her second career start after a dismal debut. She split the nine horse field at this level last out when facing a better bunch. She’s another one that makes sense going longer distances. Beyond the Hope (#5) has been awful in her last two starts, and it’s not encouraging to see her drop to this bottom level. Isaac Castillo is a talented rider that won his share of races in New Jersey last summer, and he’s named to get his first ride of the meet on this daughter of Not This Time. Her effort at Aqueduct three back with $20K maiden claimers suggests that she has more ability than what we’ve seen locally. Perhaps an aggressive ride, putting her on or near the lead in this paceless race could help her cause.


Race 2:

A half dozen three year olds run six furlongs in this open $62,500 claiming event.  Asmussen sends out a pair that look awfully tough in this spot. Totalizer (#2) was slow from in the gate in a $20K starter allowance contest here last month. The first and second place finishers are sharp older runners, so this spot is definitely class relief for him. He was very good in four races at Delta this season, and despite his 5th place finish, he showed he can compete on this circuit. Sparky Hale (#1) cleared the N1X allowance condition at Sam Houston last out. He’s been first twice and second twice in four career starts. He has a little more tactical speed than his stablemate, which may give him a slight edge. I prefer this duo over the other four runners.

Race 3:

Buckle Bunny Red (#7) will be the one to beat on the drop in class in this $20K maiden claiming race for Arkansas bred fillies and mares. She’s been her own worst enemy at the break which is worth noting, as you’ll likely be getting a short price on her. Her debut was solid with state bred maiden allowance types, in which the runner up came back to win in her subsequent try. She rushed up after breaking outward last out, but faded badly. She had a rail draw in that race and once things got tight it looked like had enough. The winner of that race, Summer Shoes, won by a pole, and went on to beat state bred allowance types in her next try. She drops in class and finds a field where she should be competitive. Lori’s Eyes (#9) is the logical alternative, dropping slightly in class after three straight on the board finishes. She’s definitely improved since her first few starts in this, her five year old campaign. She’s started down on the inside in her last few starts, and she was uncomfortable when in tight last out. She’s been in three very gritty stretch runs in her last few starts, and despite the fact that she is an 0-8 maiden, I don’t think she’ll stay a maiden much longer. Catch a Whiff (#4) tried new tactics when going out on the front end in that same race the Lori’s Eyes is coming out of. She lost the lead at the top of the stretch and faded late. Her best race was in her debut when she was making up ground from off the pace. Gabriel Saez hasn’t been riding regularly here, so we’ll see how he opts to ride her.

Race 4:

Despite being open to three year olds as well, the seven older runners that entered this $30K claiming race, all did so under the N3L condition. Wartime Hero (#6) took his shot in a 12 furlong allowance race here last month after a solid second place effort at this level two starts back. He’s a well-bred son of Empire Maker, so I can’t fault the connections for taking that chance. He set the pace, but backed up badly once he was passed. He was beaten by Eastside Cool two starts back, who was a popular winner here last weekend. He makes the most sense as a rebound play in a race where I have some concerns about many of the other runners. I will be singled to him on most tickets, but the one I’ll use as a backup would be Great Faces (#3). He comes back to a two turn race after a dull effort sprinting for his new connections last out. He ran a strong race at this level three back, making a bold move off the turn, but leveling off a bit on a track that was not playing kindly to horses making that slingshot move at that point of the meet. He may offer some value here as he’s been beaten recently by the top pick and the newly claimed, Tillis (#1).

Race 5:

We had a race for three year old, $62,500 claimers earlier in the card, and now we get a maiden claiming race for three year olds with the same high price tag. Wildwood Z (#3) debuted against Clancy’s Pistol with $30K maiden claimers last month. He held second by a clear margin while continuing to battle throughout the stretch. Scott Becker has a good track record with maidens in their second start, winning with 25% of his starters over the last 15 months. He was a $12,500 purchase that is moving up in class. Becker sends out another horse for the same owner in the $40K maiden claimer later in the card. I would think that horse would be more apt to be in this race, however, I think Wildwood Z must be training well to be entered in this spot. Perhaps getting the shorter stretch in the mile race was also a determining factor. I see him as the one to catch in this spot. Uncle Berley (#8) dropped for a tag last out when cutting back to a sprint. His lone two turn try was not good, but he was beaten by We the People in that race, so his poor effort could be forgiven. Major Contender (#9) will likely take money, seeing as how Brad Cox is sending him out and he’s dropping in for a tag for the first time in his career. I would have liked to have seen a stronger effort from him in his last start when stretching out for the first time, and he wasn’t helped by the post draw in this race. I think he is a contender, but I’m not sure the value will be ideal, and others are more intriguing to me. I’d also try to cover with the first time starter, Red Devil (#6) on some deeper tickets. After seeing the success of Shedaresthedevil and Swiss Skydiver in 2020, Daredevil has become a hot sire of late. His works have gotten better over the last few drills, which suggests he could have a chance with this group.

Race 6:

The late Pick-4 starts with a $20K N2L claiming race going six furlongs. If the track is playing fair and closers have a shot, this race sets up very nicely for Belfast Boy (#5). There is a good amount of early speed signed on in this race, so if he gets the right trip, he could be mowing them all down in the final stages. He’s been overmatched in his last several starts at the meet, while racing against better horses. He last ran at this level at Churchill back in November, and narrowly lost, finishing in a photo for second. He has had trouble at the gate some of his last few starts, so Tiago Pereira will be challenged to have him get away cleanly. Shacks Way (#6) figures to be part of the hot pace on the front end. He has run three strong races at this meet, most recently finished a game third with starter allowance types. David Cabrera gets the mount today, which is a positive switch for him. Blame George (#2) is also worth considering, as he is a lightly raced runner that has been making strides over the last few starts. I thought he was very game in defeat when facing a solid group of $30K-$25K N2L claimers last out, when facing winners for the first time. I think he’s trending in the right direction and still could offer some value in this spot.

Race 7:

It’s interesting to see a two-turn $40K maiden claiming race for three year olds on the same card as a two-turn $62,500 maiden claiming race for three year olds. As a result, I think this field is a little weaker than the average $40K maiden claimer at Oaklawn. Millard’s Smile (#1) is the other Scott Becker horse that I was referencing when writing about the 5th race. He was claimed on debut for $50K in a race where he broke toward the back of the pack, and gained ground late to finish in the middle of a full field. He moved up to maiden allowance company, where he ran a faster race, but finished a non-threatening 6th. I still like his chances, but the fact that he’s entered in this spot and his stablemate is entered in the race with the higher tag is a bit puzzling. I’ll keep him on the A line, because he still makes more sense than some of the others that figure to take some money in this race, but I’ll look elsewhere for the top pick. El Potente (#10), while posted wide, looms to be the pace factor in this race. He is a stretch out sprinter for Rene Amescua who has faded to be beaten by double-digit lengths in his first three tries in Southern California. He has sprinter speed that should help him clear this group from his high draw. From there, it’ll be up to Alex Canchari to see if he can ration that early speed. I see him being very playable at his 8-1 morning line odds or better. Declare the Moon (#2) has been steadily improving while facing lesser rivals. He was driving late to come up just short when facing $30K maiden claimers last month on this oval. He should sit a ground saving trip on the first turn from his inside draw, and he could be the one gaining late again. I’m not liking what I’ve seen from Lundberg (#4) for Brad Cox or Ice Blast (#9) from Steve Asmussen. Both figure to take money, and are two of the shorter prices on the morning line. I didn’t like the last effort from either runner, despite the fact that both were facing a tougher company. I think both will be overbet enough in this race to make them unplayable from a value standpoint.

Race 8:

A six horse field has been assembled for the featured optional claiming/allowance race for three year old fillies going six furlongs. This race will go through Warrior’s Battle (#4). She ran her race when she was sent to post as 1-2 last out in a race at this level, but going 1 mile and 1/16. Her stablemate, Interstatedaydream, ran a monster race, making her first start since the Adirondack Stakes at Saratoga in August. That one is on track to be entered in the Grade 1 Ashland this weekend at Keeneland. Cox keeps this Khozan filly in town, on a course where she was dominant when winning her first three races of the meet. She has performed well in sprint races in the past, so the cutback in distance doesn’t bother me for this filly. She feels like she’ll be tough to beat this afternoon. There’s a pair of fillies that were impressive winners in their respective debuts. Hartley (#2) debuted with $50K maiden claimers back in February for Phil D’Amato. She took that field gate to wire, dominating that group by eight lengths on the wire. She was claimed by Lynn Chleboard, who has had a tough meet, going 1 for 42 thus far. Her record may increase the value on the board for this three year old daughter of Cairo Prince that certainly looked the part at first asking. Massard (#3) debuted for Moquett at Sam Houston with maiden special company there. She broke from the outside and stalked the early leaders, before driving up three wide to grind out a victory. She came here and had a respectable drill over this course. She’s sired by two year old champion and the 2015 Kentucky Derby winner, Nyquist, and her dam was a Grade 1 placed, New York bred filly. The water definitely gets deeper, but she gets the services of leading rider, David Cabrera, so she certainly has the right to improve in her second afternoon start.

Race 9:

The Thursday nightcap is a maiden special weight race for three year old fillies going six furlongs. It’s hard to look past Little Mombo (#8) making her 4th career start today. She’s been tough, running second to some nice fillies in her last two starts. The horses with experience don’t look like they’re fast enough to compete with her and the first time starters aren’t jumping off the page. Rigney Racing paid $500K for this daughter of Into Mischief. The dam was better on the grass, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see her on the lawn in the near future. However, she feels like she’s too good for this group today. As a backup, I’ll use Violent Hailstorm (#1) shipping in from Sam Houston after a two length loss in her debut with maiden special weight company there at the end of February. Trainer C.R. Trout has decent numbers with second time starters. He saddles his first runner at this current meet and only his 10th horse in 2022. She looks like she has some potential though.


Favorite Bet Today: Early Pick-5 ($0.50 Base Wager, $36 Ticket)

I like this wager, because I think Miss Alpha Bella (#1, R1) is a bad favorite in the opener. I’ll try to get a price early on, as I do think Wartime Hero (#6, R4) will be a popular winner later in the sequence. 

The Ticket:

Race 1: 3,5,7

Race 2: 1,2

Race 3: 4,7,9

Race 4: 6

Race 5: 3,6,8,9

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