by Jerry Shottenkirk
April 10, 2020
Hot Springs National Park gets the spotlight again on a springtime Saturday as the track has a strong late Pick 4 that includes the $150,000 Oaklawn Mile Stakes and the $200,000 Oaklawn Stakes.
Which is usually the case, the top races at Oaklawn Park this time of the year are a blend of proven locals and intriguing shippers.
Here’s a look at Saturday’s late Pick 4:
Race 9 (Oaklawn Mile)
Improbable makes his return to the races and is greeted by the No. 14 post in the Oaklawn. That could be the equalizer. Idle since Nov. 19 Improbable was in the last part of his two-year-old season and the early portion of his sophomore campaign among the game’s upper crust. He has his chance to make up for narrow losses in the Rebel and Arkansas Derby and actually went off as the 4-1 favorite in the Kentucky Derby, finishing a troubled 5th.
He’s obviously talented and a must-use, but I’m not prepared to single him. Trainer Steve Asmussen’s barn was chilly coming into this week but Snapper Sinclair and Bankit both have been good over the strip and can bring a good game this one.
Race 10 (Maiden Special Weights)
As in many Oaklawn maiden races, this is a tough proposition. Supremely bred horses and many are in good form. The suggested ticket has four runners from this race, including Oxide, Urbanite, Dean Martini and Hunt the Front. There is plenty of speed in the race and could end up being won by one of these coming from far off the pace.
Race 11 (Oaklawn Stakes)
Basin’s third in the Rebel marked an end to a six-month vacation and with that start has a chance to get back to the form when he won the Hopeful Stakes. Florent Giroux picks up the mount and has the ability to get them to stretch out. It should be an exciting run on the front end.
Thousand Words and Farmington Road also are playable in this Pick 4. Thousand Words won his first three races and then tired for 4th in the San Felipe. He had to earn all of his wins by digging in and could be formidable in his first Oaklawn start. Farmington Road closed to 4th in Fair Grounds’ Risen Star and can benefit from a peppy pace.
Race 12 (Allowance Optional Claiming)
The last could the toughest on the card and four of the allowance-optional claimers are good enough for this exotic play. Popular Kid has crushed foes in his two Oaklawn appearances. He won by nearly nine lengths, was claimed for $20,000 in that one by trainer Jason Barkley and came back for a five-length score against starter allowance foes. He was competitive on the West Coast and is back to top form.
Exulting was in graded races in his last three and gets some major class relief. His last time came last May 3 in the Oaklawn Mile. Unfortunately he couldn’t keep that stakes-winning vibe going but has a good chance to be competitive with these. Cashanova is a serious closer and in three tries at this 1 1-16th-miles distance, he has two easy wins and lost a photo in the other. Sonny Smack is the last on selection on the ticket and is a Horse for the Course. He was 2nd last time and was an easy winner in two here in February.
Here’s a suggested play for the late Pick 4 Saturday at Oaklawn Park:
Race 9) #7 Snapper Sinclair, #8 Bankit, #14 Improbable.
Race 10) #7 Oxide, #8 Urbanite, #10 Dean Martini, #12 Hunt the Front.
Race 11) #1 Basin, #4 Thousand Words, #12 Farmington Road.
Race 12) #5 Popular Kid, #6 Exulting, #9 Cashanova, #10 Sonny Smack.
My Ticket: 7,8,14/7,8,10,12/1,4,12/5,6,9,10 = $72 for $0.50