Oaklawn Park Racing Preview – 4/9/22 – By Eric Solomon

There’s a ten race program this afternoon at Oaklawn that will spotlight three year old, Arkansas bred sprinters. The 7th race is the Rainbow Miss Stakes for three year old fillies and the 9th is the Rainbow States for three year old colts and geldings. Expect several jockey changes on the card today, after leading rider David Cabrera went down in a scary spill in the opener yesterday. His agent, Jose Santos Jr. reported to Mary Rampellini that he spent the night in the ICU, but he is alert and moving. While we all pray for his speedy recovery, from a handicapping perspective, he had a mount in every race on the program (including an also-eligible runner in the nightcap). The jockey room is thinner than normal today with many riders out of town, so there will be plenty of opportunities for some lesser known riders to hop aboard some live mounts. 


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 6 4,6 5 DBL, PK5
2 6 4,6 DBL, PK3, PK4
3 2 2,4 1,6 DBL, PK3
4 4 1,4 2 DBL, PK3
5 10 3,10 DBL, PK3
6 8 8 1 DBL, PK3, PK5
7 1 1,3 DBL, PK3, PK4
8 1 1,8 5 DBL, PK3
9 4 2,4,7 DBL
10 11 11,12 1,2



Race 1:

Time restricted $10K claimers go two turns in the opener. Suspect dropper Leader of Men (#5) is entered for a $10K tag after being claimed for $30K in his last start. This is the kind of race that I typically avoid, because it feels like the new connections aren’t interested in their new purchase whatsoever. We’ve also seen a good number of horses like this turn out to  be vet scratches, so also pay attention to that. I’d cover with him on deeper plays if he goes, but in all likelihood, his presence will likely reduce or eliminate whatever investment I’d be considering in the Early Pick-5. Grand Design (#6) is coming off a big time effort at the Fair Grounds with time restricted $5K claimers. He was bred to be a good one, and he runs his best races when he’s loose on the lead. While I am concerned that he could bounce to the moon off that big effort last out, there’s not really any significant speed threats in this race. Futile (#4) hasn’t run at a level this low, but this is probably where he belongs at this point in his career. He’s stretching out for the first time in a while, which might not be the worst thing for a horse that has been struggling to finish first recently. 


Race 2: 

They won’t be moving the starting gate after this race, since this is the first of nine straight races on the program carded at six furlongs. Rio Lady (#6) was absolutely flying in the stretch after Milana (#2) assumed command and came up absolutely empty in the final stages last time out. That was clearly an improved effort after a dull debut in her previous attempt. Look for her to be a factor at this $30K-$25K maiden claiming level. Tropinka (#4) is dropping in class after a decent second career try with $40K-$35K maiden claimers. She’s gotten a little tired in her first two tries, but she’s been competitive. She figures to fit in at this level. I’m not sold on Autostrada (#7) who is the morning line favorite for Steve Asmussen. She’s run decent races at two turns, but now cuts back to a sprint while trying to figure out what she does best. It’s hard to endorse a short price that’s never really been close to the winner.


Race 3: 

This is a tricky, time restricted $50K-$40K claiming race at six furlongs. There are some horses that are in good form, and there are other horses that have fallen off from the big races they were running in the not so distant past. Silver Moon Road (#2) falls into the latter of the categories, but he was claimed by Chelsey Moysey for $35K and enters this race where he has the potential to be the lone speed threat. He folded up late when facing Defender (#4), who is the morning line favorite, and definitely a player in this race, passed him. If there’s a little less pace pressure for him on the front end, I could see him finding his Southern California form from last fall. Defender won that last race, but remains eligible for this race today by virtue that his win doesn’t count toward the eligibility for the time restriction here, since the claiming tag was $35K or less. It’s almost as if this race was written with him in mind in his first race since being claimed by Asmussen. He’ll be one of the horses that will be getting a different jockey this afternoon, as Cabrera was named to ride. Flat Lucky (#1) seems like a horse that is worth considering in this spot as well. He’s been first or third in his last ten starts, winning four times. His last four trips to the track have resulted in third palace finishes, and while he’s in very good form, he might not get the pace set up for him to finish first here. Substantial (#6) is also worth an add here, perhaps offering some value after a dull effort in a starter allowance race in the mud. Prior to that, he was just behind Flat Lucky two starts ago. He was in good form in the mid-Atlantic region at the end of the season last year, and he brought that good form here. He’s another viable option in this wide open affair. 


Race 4:

$50K maiden claimers go six furlongs here. This race is another evenly matched contest, but I think there’s some upside with Amity Road (#4) for Jerry Hollendorfer. I’m willing to draw a line through his second career start and his first race off the claim when he was crushed with $75K maiden claimers. That was a tougher group and he didn’t break well. He’s sired by Street Boss, so I’m not certain he wanted to go that far anyway, at least at this point in his young career. He comes back to the $50K level where he ran a decent 4th at first asking. Isaac Castillo has won 24% of his races when teaming up with Hollendorfer, mostly last year when racing at Monmouth. If Del Moon (#1) can recover from losing the rider after clipping heels in his last at Sam Houston, he stands to be a factor in here. HIs first two races with maiden special weight types would play well at this level. He struggled at the Fair Grounds at that level in December, but may have been mildly injured, as he didn’t run again for three months. Asmussen brought him to Sam Houston, where he took money in an off the maiden special weight race at five furlongs, but he lost the rider before going into the turn. This feels like the right time to drop him in class, and going six furlongs instead of five, should allow him to better employ his natural early speed. John Ortiz has great numbers dropping horses from maiden special weight to maiden claiming, and that’s what he does with the morning line favorite, Cold City (#2) here. He was a traffic filled 7th last out with maiden allowance types, but he definitely ran a stronger race than what he’s shown in the past. I’m a little hesitant to play him, as he was a $170K purchase that is entered for a $50K tag after his best career race. He’s worth including, but I’ll try to get some value with the top two on the A line. 


Race 5:

Open $16K claimers wrap up the Early Pick-4 and Pick-5 wagers here. I think King of the Court (#10) is interesting from the outside post in this race. He was away a bit slow in his first start off the Chris Richard claim last month. He finished 5th, while going to post at 30-1 in that race. His Delta form before the claim wasn’t bad and he drops in class, while still running for a thousand more dollars than he was claimed for. Richard has had a slow start to 2022, but he’s more than capable of winning some races. This is the kind of race where you either go several deep, or try to escape with just a few. The only other horse I’m using is Lonely Private (#3), who is moving up in class after defeating $6,250 claimers last out. I fear he might be overbet, and these are the most consistent horses. However, he looks like he could be the lone speed once again.


Race 6: 

$30K maiden claimers travel the popular six furlong in the race that kicks off the Late Pick-5 wager. The well bred, Invariably (#8) takes the plunge from maiden special weight to maiden claiming company for Jerry Hollendorfer. While he sends out Amity Road in the 4th race for different owners, I would have preferred to see this one running for $50K tag in the 4th, as opposed to dropping all the way to this $30K level. That being said, he’s met Stratofortress and Life is Hard in his last two starts, and both of those runners have already won another race when facing winners. He wasn’t embarrassed in either of those races and is cutting back after tiring when going one mile last time. He won’t offer a lot of value, but he feels like the one to beat in this race. On deeper tickets, I’m going to back up with Thunderheart (#1) breaking from the rail. He was very sharp from the gate when he dropped to the $40K maiden claiming level last out. He faded late to be 4th against a better group of runners that day. He’s gradually improving and might be better suited to press the pace instead of setting the fractions. He was five lengths behind Invariably two starts ago and it looks like he has improved since that effort. 


Race 7: The $150K Rainbow Miss

The first of two state bred stakes races starts the Late Pick-4. Pattern Bet (#1) might offer a little value in this race, seeing as how she’s still a maiden. However, I think she has a chance of upsetting the favorite, One Way or Another (#3) in the Arkansas bred sprint stakes for three year old fillies. Pattern Bet had the misfortune of clashing with Summer Shoes in her last start. That one dominated that field by 12 lengths on the wire. She’s been second in all three career starts, and she was only one length behind One Way or Another two starts back. One Way or Another won nicely on debut back in February. She came within a length and a half of beating the boys in a state bred optional claiming/allowance. She appears to be a speed threat, but there are others that appear to be ready to challenge for the front end.


Race 8: 

League of Legends (#1) and the morning line favorite, Rolling Fork (#8) are coming out of the same N1X allowance race last month at 5 and ½ furlongs. Ernie Banker won that race and then won again in his next start. These two were within a length of each other at the finish, so I think there’s value in playing the steadily improving League of Legends. He keeps getting a little bit better each time he races, and he’s better suited for six furlongs than five and half. I don’t love the rail draw, but I trust the crafty veteran, Jon Court, will be able to work out a trip. There’s definitely more upside with Rolling Fork, but I assume, with his connections, you’re going to pay a premium. He was really good last year and he got better with more racing experience. He’s won three times, but is eligible for this race since he won in starter allowance company and state bred allowance company. Long Term Thinking (#5) is probably a better horse on an off track, and it doesn’t seem like he’s going to get that day. If Defender wins earlier on the card, that could flatter him a bit, seeing as how he lost to him with time restricted claimers last out. He’s already cleared this condition, so he’s entered with the $25K tag today.


Race 9: The $150K Rainbow Stakes

Arkansas bred three year olds sprint six furlongs in the male counterpart to the Rainbow Miss Stakes. This race is definitely more wide open than the filly version of this race. There’s not a lot that separates the top and bottom of this field. 20-1 seems like crazy value on Citrus Bay (#4). He was a dull last place finisher in allowance company in the mud last out when he was pretty much eliminated from the jump. Two starts back he faced the very talented state bred sprinter, Gar Hole. He was within 8 lengths of him, which doesn’t sound impressive, but that horse is probably the best Arkansas bred sprinter in training. No one in this field has faced a horse like that. Three starts back, he faced open optional claiming/allowance company, beaten by a pair of next out winners that ran very solid races. Again those horses are notably better than anyone in here. I don’t think we’re getting 20-1, but he’s definitely a player. Peace Dog (#2) has been steadily improving over his three career starts. He was less than a length behind One Ten Stadium (#7) in a race where that one was the favorite. His last two races are significantly better than his first two. One Ten Stadium has a pair of wins this meet. His one dull effort was in the mud , so he makes a lot of sense on a fast track today.


Race 10:

Arkansas bred N2L $20K claimers close the sprint heavy Saturday program. I like a pair of closers running back in a week and dropping in class. Doc Irwin (#11) has a live look while cutting back in distance and returning to state bred company after struggling with open $16K N2L claimers. He was more effective as a closing sprinting, winning his debut and putting forth a respectable effort with allowance types three starts back. He should have a decent pace to set up his late kick. Mahomey (#12) struggled last week as well, getting forced out in the middle of the track when facing allowance foes in the race that followed the Arkansas Derby. Blinkers go on and he drops in class in his third race off an extended layoff. Both Forsaken (#1) and My Little Tipsy (#2) want to be forwardly placed, and both seem to be committed to the front end, drawing inside posts, right beside each other. Forsaken has better speed figures, but is facing winners for the first time. My Little Tipsy ran a decent race against winners for the first time two weeks ago. I worry that they could cancel each other out, setting things up for a horse coming over the top. However, if speed is doing well in the other eight sprints prior to this one, I’d certainly upgrade their chances. 


Favorite Bet Today: Race 9, $20 Win 4 at 10-1 or higher

This is going to be a wait and see kind of day for me here. I think there are value opportunities on the card, but I want to see who winds up riding some of the Cabrera horses before trying to put a multi-race ticket together. He’s been on fire lately, and when you watch his races, he always seems to be in the right spot, upgrading the chances of his mounts considerably. I do think Citrus Bay (#4) is absolutely a live longshot in a wide open Rainbow Stakes. He hasn’t been close in his three races here, but two of those races came against significantly better fields than what anyone else in this race has seen. He had all sorts of trouble in the mud last out, so I think he’s very live here at a price. I think 20-1 is too high though, but if he goes off anywhere at 10-1 or higher, that will be worth a win bet for me. 

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