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Oaklawn Handicap a Free For All to kick off Pick 4

by Jerry Shottenkirk

April 11, 2019

The Oaklawn Handicap is about as evenly matched from top to bottom as you’ll see in a Grade 2 race for older horses.

And there’s no better reason to jump into the Oaklawn late Pick 4 on Saturday. While the $1 million Arkansas Derby deservedly gets the most attention, the Oaklawn Handicap will probably be the main catalyst of healthy Pick 4 payoff on this card.

You can make a case for a many in the field. Here’s a look at the field:


If you liked Tenfold last year, you are probably inclined to like him at OP, despite a fourth-place finish in an optional claiming race at Fair Grounds. It was his first of the year for the Preakness runner-up and Jim Dandy winner. Bettors often tend to put too much stock in the most recent race, and that might be the case here. It’s Oaklawn, it’s Steve Asmussen, it’s Ricardo Santana, Jr.. Tough to leave him off your ticket 

Pioneer Spirit

Was along in time in an optional claiming race over this strip but probably doesn’t have the class of some of these. He’ll some play with the Luis Saez-Brad Cox jockey-trainer connection and his best chance here would probably to get to the front end and attempt to carve out the fractions. He’s a pass on this ticket.

Chris and Dave

Was claimed for $45,000 three races back, won a starter allowance two back, and then seemed overmatched when sent into the Essex Handicap. However, he gave a good effort and was fifth, beaten less than two length. He could probably be in the pace mix but it’s not that difficult to prefer others.

Lookin At Lee

Was second with a tremendous late run last time, but he also has some races in which he’s shown good speed. He’s probably a ‘send’ today, unless the pace is just too much, and at that, he can back off and make a run. Never a bad thing to have Mike Smith aboard and his price will not be as long as he’d be with someone other than the riding legend up.

Remembering Rita

His optional claiming win last time was his first since taking the Cornhusker at Prairie Meadows, where he developed last summer with a maiden and optional claiming win leading up to his big Grade 3. His best chance would be on the front end but he has his work cut out for him in this one.

Giant Expectations

He was upset as the 8-5 favorite in the Essex, went back to his home base at Santa Anita and had two very good drills. He has won a race since the 2017 San Antonio but has kept company with some of the game’s better veterans. With a race over the track, Giant Expectations likely will be much better this go-round and is a heavy hitter in this one.


He couldn’t keep up with Prince Lucky and finished third in the Hal’s Hope, which is far less than a capital offense since he’s become one of the top older runners in the country. It was Quip’s first try since finishing eighth in the Preakness. He’s had steady and moderate workouts since the Hal’s Hope and is set for his return to Oaklawn, where he was second to Magnum Moon in the 2018 Arkansas Derby. He’s definitely on the ticket.

Lone Sailor

You know Lone Sailor has a closing move, but you have to have lots and lots of patience with that kind of running style. He made it through his “non-winners of two” condition when he won the Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby. It’s not impossible, but a lot of things would have to happen here.

Rated R Superstar

Scored a 14-1 upset in the Essex in his first win since taking the 2018 Ben Ali at Keeneland. He was claimed for $62,500 and got more than three times that when he won the Essex. Steady progression and ultimately a win in the Essex should be enough to make you take this horse seriously.

Here’s the suggested ticket for the Pick 4 at Oaklawn:

9) #1 Tenfold, #4 Lookin At Lee, #6 Giant Expectations, #7 Quip, #9 Rated R Superstar.

10) #2 Lighthawk, #4 Combatant, #7 Zing Zang, #10 Tiz McNamara.

11) #1 Improbable, #3 Omaha Beach, #7 Galilean, #11 Long Range Toddy.

12) #3 Rotation, #5 Flatout Winner.

50-cent Pick 4: 1-4-6-7-9 with 2-4-7-10 with 1-3-7-11 with 3-5 ($80)