Race 8–Count Fleet Sprint Handicap—Six Furlongs
1. Lexitonian Sisterson/Beschizza 30-1
Returns after roughly six months on the bench. He showed some decent efforts at 3 but needs to get better. Let’s see one first.
2. Flagstaff Sadler/Rosario 7/2
Overcame issues to show talent at 5 and has continued to be solid at 6. He should stalk the early speed in here and ought to have a chance to run them down. He fits for a potent trainer/jockey combination that hits at 31%. Trainer Sadler’s numbers, however, have not been strong when he’s shipping runners out of his home base of California for graded stakes races elsewhere. This gelding may be a bit better at seven furlongs than he is at three-quarters of a mile. Last out, he won the Gr. 2 San Carlos at Santa Anita and has worked a bullet since.
3. Hog Creek Hustle Foley/Van Dyke 15-1
This 4-year-old colt faced good ones at 3 and won the Grade 1 Woody Stephens at 7 furlongs. This year, he hasn’t distinguished himself in two starts. He doesn’t have any speed, so he’s got to circle the field and that’s an issue at six furlongs. He’s 0-for-4 at the distance.
4. Bobby’s Wicked One Stall/M.Mena 3-1
This guy is fast and sharp and that’s a dangerous combination. He won his last two races—ungraded stakes–by a total of more than 7 lengths. He hasn’t been out since January, so he’ll be sharp and ready to show all of his speed. He’ll take this bunch along for quite a while and maybe all the way.
5. Wendell Fong J.Englehart/Cohen 30-1
He had his moments at 3, winning 3 of his first 4 races. He was third, last out, in the Hot Springs behind #9 Whitmore. It wasn’t a bad effort, but he’ll still need to improve to close the gap between him and the favorite.
6. Mr. Jagermeister Lund/Thompson 15-1
This reliable 5-year-old horse has won 11 of 22 starts and 7 of 13 at the distance, with 4 seconds and 1 third. He’s got speed and will chase #4 Bobby’s Wicked One early. He comes out of the Hot Springs where he was second, less than 3 lengths behind #9 Whitmore. Difficult to ignore a horse with his credentials, speed and affinity for the distance and the track (3 starts, 1 win, 2 seconds).
7. Hidden Scroll Mott/M.Garcia 4-1
He’s the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde entry in this race, with two double-digit length wins and one double-digit length loss to his credit. Which Hidden Scroll is likely to show up Saturday? The guess here is that he’s not as good as his press clippings—he’s been a strong favorite in four of five lifetime starts with just one win as the choice. He’s best when he makes the lead by himself and that won’t happen in here.
8. Manny Wah Catalano/C.Hill 30-1
He’s won just three of 16 starts and would be a major surprise in the winner’s circle.
9. Whitmore Moquett/Talamo 5/2
To paraphrase: You don’t tug on superman’s cape. You don’t spit into the wind. You don’t pull the mask off that old lone ranger. And you don’t mess around with Whitmore at Oaklawn Park, especially at six furlongs. He’s won 8 of 13 at Oaklawn, with 4 seconds and 1 third. He’s also 11 for 20 at this distance, with 6 seconds and 2 thirds! This 7-year-old gelding is fit and comes off a dominating victory in the Hot Springs. It probably should be noted that Whitmore finished second to #10 Share the Upside in the King Cotton stakes when ‘Upside was able to dictate the early pace. That shouldn’t happen in here and Whitmore clearly is the one to beat.
10. Share the Upside Asmussen/Geroux 10-1
After upsetting heavily favored #9 Whitmore in the King Cotton, this 5-year-old gelding could only manage fifth—beaten more than 6 lengths—in Whitmore’s Hot Springs triumph. ‘Upside loves the Oaklawn track and is 4 for 11 at the distance. He’s an early speed type that might end up forcing the early pace with #4 Bobby’s Wicked One and possibly #6 Mr. Jagermeister and #7 Hidden Scroll. That situation ought to leave Whitmore licking his chops and ready to pounce just behind the leaders. Share the Upside could hang around for a slice like he did last year in this race when second to Whitmore.
11. Nitrous Asmussen/Santana 20-1
Like #10 Share the Upside, this 4-year-old colt hails from the powerful Steve Asmussen barn. Jockey Ricardo Santana moves his tack here from the next-door stablemate. When a barn’s top rider appears to have selected one mount over another, it often means something. Nitrous has no speed, is drawn widest of all and has been gone since September. He has had steady works for his return but the trainer doesn’t work them fast in the morning, so there are no bullets. If things get hot up front early in this race, look for Nitrous to be charging in the middle of the track. He could get a piece at a decent price.
Race 9–Allowance Optional Claiming—Six Furlongs
1. Shanghai Tariff (5/2)–Showed speed and tired in first race off layoff. Loves Oaklawn and distance. Steady type usually tries. Best of 45 for bullet 5/8 at Oaklawn since raced.
4. Headland (10-1)– 4-year-old filly needs to do a bit better but isn’t out of the question. Third to #8 Heavens Whisper last out. 4-for-6 at Oaklawn and 5-for-11 at distance.
5. Meadow Dance (4-1) –Steadily improved at 3 and makes first her start as a 4-year-old. She’s faced stakes foes in the past and could have room to improve. Trainer/jock combo 28% according to Thoro-Graph. She needs to go faster for top barn and just might in here.
6. Break Even (3-1) – Solid 3-year-old form with 6 consecutive wins. Poor race last out in first start at age 4 is a real concern. Top barn and jockey combine at 24%, according to Thoro-Graph stats.
8. Heavens Whisper (6-1) – Is a 12 for 26 pro and unbeaten in two wet-track starts since moving to Paul Holthus barn. Steps up, keeps Talamo as pilot.
#7 Honey’s Sox Appeal, #9 Mt. Brave, #10 Take Charge Angel, #11 Raintree Starlet, #12 Spring in the Wind
Race 10—Apple Blossom–One Mile and One-Sixteenth
1. Ollie’s Candy Sadler/Rosario 12-1
She hasn’t been quite the same since winning the Gr. 1 Clement Hirsch in August at Del Mar. Trainer Sadler has a weak record when shipping runners out of town for graded stakes races. With jockey Rosario, this 5-year-old mare will take some play and should enjoy a ground-saving trip just off the early pace, but we’ll pass on her until she regains her best form.
2. Coldwater Eurton/De La Cruz 50-1
This 5-year-old mare makes her first start for trainer Pete Eurton and she appears up against it in here.
3. Awe Emma Stewart/Lanerie 20-1
She’s a sterling 4-for-6 at Oaklawn and enters this off a solid allowance win. She’s 5-years-old now and would need to run better than ever to win this.
4. Come Dancing D.W.Lucas/Geroux 3-1
This 6-year-old mare has had a splendid career, earning over $1 million while winning multiple graded stakes. Those victories, however, came at shorter distances and, although she has won at this distance, she probably isn’t as potent around two turns. Hall-of-Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas takes over for previous conditioner Carlos Martin. Still, she may have seen better days at shorter distances.
5. Point of Honor Weaver/Van Dyke 10-1
This 4-year-old filly always tries. She’s been either first or second in 6 out of 7 starts, including a Gr. 2 Black-Eyed Susan victory and a Gr. Runner-up finish in the CCA Oaks and Alabama. She races from off the pace. Last out she managed second in a seven-furlong leg-stretcher after a 6-month layoff. She’s got upside at a price, particularly in the exotics.
6. Street Band L.Jones/S.Doyle 15-1
She made nice progress from two to three and surprised with a win in the Gr. 1 Cotillion at Parx in September. Those willing to back this 4-year-old filly must forgive an uninspiring performance last out in the Oaklawn slop. On her best days, she has a chance, but those efforts seem to be well-spaced out. Demand a generous price.
7. Queen Nekia S.Joseph/Cohen 20-1
Winner of 8 of 24 races, mostly at various starter allowance levels, she’d be a huge surprise as the winner in here.
8. Saracosa C.Contreras/M.Garcia 30-1
With just 2 wins in 15 starts, this 5-year-old mare seems up against it in here.
9. Horologist Baltas/T.Baze 15-1
In her third start for trainer Richard Baltas, Horologist lost a tough, close decision in the Nellie Morse at Laurel. Her claim to fame is that she reeled off four consecutive victories last spring/summer at Monmouth, including the Gr. 3 Monmouth Oaks. She was a well-beaten third in Street Band’s Cotillion at nearly 22-1. She has shown some ability and can’t be completely ignored.
10. Cookie Dough S.Joseph/A.Cedillo 10-1
Expect this 4-year-old filly to show speed. She’s drawn inside #11 Serengeti Empress and they are the swiftest in this bunch. How seriously they hound each other early will determine what happens late. ‘Dough is not as accomplished as ‘Empress, so it’s reasonable to expect her to crack first in their private pace battle. She won the Gr. 3 Royal Delta at Gulfstream last out and is Gr. 2 stakes placed.
11. Serengeti Empress Amoss/Talamo 4-1
This Grade 1 winning, 4-year-old filly is the one to beat. If successful here, she’ll become a multi-millionaire with 7 victories out of 15 starts. Her most important win came in last season’s Gr. 1 Kentucky Oaks. She’s never come from off the pace to win, so expect her to demand the early lead from Cookie Dough. Her dominating win last out in the Azeri over a sloppy track was the fastest race of her career, according to Beyer Speed Figures and her first tally since the Kentucky Oaks—nearly one year ago. She will be a short price and it should be noted that she’s lost races to two of her Apple Blossom foes before—#13 Lady Apple and #6 Street Band (twice). Can’t blame anyone looking elsewhere for a price.
12. Go Google Yourself McGee/BJHernandez 12-1
She’s an absolutely honest 5-year-old mare—7 wins and 5 seconds in 19 starts and off the board just four times—just twice in her last 12 races. She’s got 2 wins in as many starts over the Oaklawn surface and 4 wins out of 9 races at the distance, including never worse than third. She does her best work just off the early pace and that ought to be a perfect spot, just off Cookie Dough and Serengeti Empress. She should be a square price and, win or lose, will give you your money’s worth.
13. Lady Apple Asmussen/Santana 15-1
She’s a year younger than #12 Go Google Yourself and has a similar ‘always trying’ past performance sheet. She’s won 6 of 13 lifetime races—including 6 of her last 8–and is a multiple Gr. 3 stakes winner. Her Oaklawn Park resume is impressive—3 wins in 4 starts. She has a stalking style that should find her in a prime spot early. Her connections are solid—a 22% trainer/jockey combo. The biggest hole in this one is a poor performance in her last race—Gr. 2 Azeri at Oaklawn over a sloppy track. She finished fifth, beaten 20 lengths. She has a previous win over a sloppy track, but that was an Oaklawn maiden sprint. She also has a disastrous sloppy track route race at Saratoga on her resume. All things considered, despite her overall outstanding record, her poor last race and an outside post demand that players get a decent price before backing this filly.
14. Ce Ce M.McCarthy/V.Espinosa 7/2
The least experienced filly in the field with just 5 lifetime starts, this 4-year-old deserves a long look. She’s been highly regarded since breaking her maiden last April at Santa Anita. Next out, she was second in a fast race. Connections then asked her to take a huge leap, shipping to Belmont to contest the Gr. 1 Acorn in June. She finished fourth of nine and was gone until February when she returned to win an optional claimer. Next out she romped in the Gr. 1 Beholder Mile. There’s plenty of upside with this filly and if she can repeat her last, she’ll win. This is a ridiculously tough post to win from, but Ce Ce’s got enough speed to be within striking distance of the leaders early. She should be in the 3-1 range as a most interesting alternative to short-priced choices.
Race 11–Claiming $50,000–One Mile and One-Sixteenth
1. Timeline (4-1)—Races for tag first time for deadly Asmusses/Santana jockey combo that cracks at 22%, according to Daily Racing Form. Solid third last out in $62k Optional Claimer.
2. Kurlov (7/2)—Has some fight in him—9-for-26 overall and 2-for-3 at Oaklawn.
5. Degrom (6-1)—New face is 7-for-15 at distance against lesser.
8. Super Dude (6-1)—Has some speed and cuts back from a mile and one-eighth. 1-for-2 at Oaklawn and 3-for-4 at the distance.
9. Zero Gravity (12-1)—Cuts back in distance and makes first start for a tag. Has no early speed.
10. Matrooh (5-1)—10-year-old loves this track and recently won by 6 going a mile at this level.
3. Curlin Rules, 4. Eisenstaedt, 6. County Court, 7. Spikes Shirl, 11. Arrival, 12. Hawaakom, 13.AE Colonelsdarktemper, 14. AE Hunka Burning Love
Suggested $.50 Pick 4 Ticket ($30):
5. Meadow Dance
6. Break Even
8. Heavens Whisper
11. Serengeti Empress
14. Ce Ce
8. Super Dude
9. Zero Gravity
Suggested $.50 Pick 4 Ticket ($30)
4. Bobby’s Wicked One
1. Shanghai Tariff
5. Meadow Dance
6. Break Even
8. Heavens Whisper
14. Ce Ce
8. Super Dude
9. Zero Gravity
Great Luck, Stay Safe, and Race On!