by Eddie Olczyk
April 16, 2020
Fellow racing fans, I hope this analysis finds you healthy and in good spirits. We are all on one team in this fight against COVID-19 and staying safe and socially distant is the best way for us to get back to ‘normal’ life, whether it is at the racetrack, rink or office.
Luckily, horse racing continues to provide a welcome distraction and a bit of normalcy in life. I commend the men and women working tirelessly at the tracks, training centers and farms to ensure the show is able to go on.
My target is this week’s Saturday Oaklawn Park Late Pick 4. Last Saturday’s soggy Late Pick 4 attracted an $852,512 pool and rewarded lucky bettors with a $26,935 payout if they were able to navigate the sequence and go 4-for-4.
The forecast for this Saturday, as of Thursday afternoon, is significantly drier, but I always recommend keeping an eye on real time weather conditions whenever possible, especially when playing multi-race bets.
Race 8 (5:14PM ET) – Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3)
The opening leg of the Late Pick 4 is the G3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap and I’m going to play some defense in order to get through the opener. #7 HIDDEN SCROLL (4/1) and #9 WHITMORE (5/2) are the favorites and I think many players will use only those two horses. While both are extremely talented, I’m going to also play #1 LEXITONIAN (30/1), #2 FLAGSTAFF (7/2), #5 WENDELL FONG (30/1), #6 MR. JAGERMEISTER (15/1) and #10 SHARE THE UPSIDE (10/1). If I can get a price horse home in the opening leg, I think I am sitting on a chance for a big payout.
Race 9 (5:45PM ET) – Allowance
I am taking a shot and singling #4 HEADLAND (10/1) in this race. I see ‘need the lead’ speed horses drawn in Posts 1, 5, 6, 7, 9 and 10, so I forecast a quick pace. If Martin Garcia is able to rate HEADLAND off the early pace I think they have a huge chance. That's what's most key with her. She needs to sit off the pace. I repeat - THE JOCKEY HAS TO SIT OFF THE PACE. If HEADLAND is a part of the early pace, I'll be virtually ripping up my ticket before the quarter pole. This filly’s past winning efforts have come when she was able to sit back and make a run, so that is the approach I really hope they take on Saturday. Plus, in her last race, a decent third place finish, it looked like she may have been struck by the winner's whip down the lane. She loves Oaklawn (4-for-6 lifetime) and this race sets up from a come-from-behind type. With horses from better known barns like Brad Cox and Steve Asmussen in the field, I’m hoping to get 8/1 or higher on HEADLAND.
Race 10 (6:16PM ET) – Apple Blossom Handicap (G1)
A huge field of 14 has assembled for the G1 Apple Blossom and the scenario is even further muddled as three of the ‘big’ horses in here - #11 Serengeti Empress (4/1), #13 LADY APPLE (15/1) and #14 CE CE (7/2) have drawn outside. They will need to work out a trip. The post for Serengeti Empress, a true pacesetter, is concerning, especially with several other frontrunners drawn to her inside. I’m going to stick with CE CE and LADY APPLE despite their posts. CE CE was phenomenal in the G1 Beholder Mile at Santa Anita and LADY APPLE is a ‘must use’ on a fast track. Let’s also toss in #7 QUEEN NEKIA (20/1), an absolute bomb that will be running on late.
Race 11 (6:47PM ET) – Claiming
If Martin Garcia has a big day on Saturday, chances are I’m going to have a good day as well. Garcia is riding horses I like in the first two legs of the Pick 4 and is aboard one of the two horses I’m using in the nightcap. He rides #9 ZERO GRAVITY (12/1) in here and don’t let that 12/1 ML fool you – this horse has a shot. In his last race – his first on the dirt at Oaklawn – he was forced into making an early move behind a slow pace and he flattened at the finish. He should get much more pace this time around and as a one-run horse, he’ll need it. I’ll also use #4 EISENSTAEDT, who fits a similar mold and is making his second start off the layoff for Ron Moquett. He should be sharper this time around.
Race 8: 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10
Race 9: 4
Race 10: 7, 13, 14
Race 11: 4, 9
Ticket Cost: $42 for $1
Good luck and please stay safe out there!