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Saturday, April 18: Oaklawn Park Wagering Strategies

by Jeff Siegel

April 18, 2020

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis and Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.

It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.

Grade A=Highest degree of confidence.
Grade B=Solid Play.
Grade C=Least preferred, or pass.
Grade X=probable winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.

The selections are available every racing day after morning scratches. For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.

RACE 1: Post 12:35 CT. Grade: C+
Use: 4-Wenyen; 5-My Legacy

Forecast: Maiden $12,500 older sprinters meet in the opener, a race that must be treated with caution. We’ll try to survive and advance using just two. Wenyen drops again in his third career start, removes blinkers, and earned a speed figure in his debut that is good enough to beat this field. This jockey-trainer combo is solid, so at 5-1 on the morning line the son of Flashback seems as good as any. My Legacy, second off a layoff and now in the G. Compton barn (had been a S. Asmussen), will have a strong look if he can produce a forward move after a speed/fade effort vs. tougher in his first off 10-month layoff. His numbers from last summer chart very well with these, so we’ll consider him a “must use” at 6-1 on the morning line.

RACE 2: Post 1:06 CT. Grade: B-
Use: 3-Delp; 9-Metropol

Forecast: Metropol was considered a decent prospect after breaking his maiden at first asking for B. Baffert back in the fall of 2018. The son of Shackleford now finds himself competing in a restricted (nw-2) $20,000 claimer, but after a couple of sprint preps over sloppy tracks the B. Cox-trained colt stretches out for the first time, switches to the barn’s “go-to” rider and should find himself in a good pace-stalking/prompting position. Let’s hope that this sharp drop in class will help restore his confidence. Delp, claimed in his last pair and now in the T. Amoss barn (solid stats with first-off-the-claim plays), drops from $30,000 to $20,000, switches from turf to dirt, and picks up J. Talamo. His numbers in California chart well against this group, so we’re expecting the son of Include to return to his best form. These are the two we’ll be using in rolling exotic play with a slight preference on top to Metropol.

RACE 3: Post 1:37 CT. Grade: B-
Use: 6-Daigle; 9-Too Pretty

Forecast: Five of these exit the same race, the most intriguing of which is Daigle, the fourth place finisher in an Arkansas-bred maiden sprint for fillies and mares. She stayed on reasonably well after a pressing/stalking trip and we’re expecting a big effort thanks to the two-sprints-and-a-stretch-out angle and a pedigree that should allow her to handle today’s mile trip. Too Pretty, in the frame in her last pair with improving speed figures, was four lengths clear of the rest in a similar two-turner last month is the likely choice and one to beat. Both should be included in rolling exotic play.

RACE 4: Post 2:08 CT. Grade: B
Use: 1-Elite Song; 9-Lady Gusto; 10-Punish

Forecast: We’ll go three-deep in the fourth race, a restricted (nw-2) $20,000 claiming sprint for fillies and mares. Punish picks up J. Rosario, is comfortably drawn outside, and should have every chance from a pace-pressing position. Second in her last pair, most recently with a career-top speed figure, the daughter of Cairo Prince exits a productive race and can be expected to produce another forward move. There may be a bit of value here if she leaves at or near her morning line of 9/2. Elite Song might be the quickest in the field, and from her rail draw she has only one way to go, on the front end for as far as she can take them. She may stick better today on a fast track after faltering over muddy surfaces in her last pair. Lady Gusto, overmatched in a pair of races since being taken for $25,000, drops below her claim level and should be a factor from off the pace. However, with just one win to go along with eight seconds and thirds, the daughter of J P’s Gusto may lack a winning punch, so we’ll use her as a back-up or a saver, but not much more than that.

RACE 5: Post 2:39 CT. Grade: B-
Use: 4-Skyvalue; 12-Minji

Forecast: Skyvalue, a solid third in her debut in a maiden $40,000 affair over a sloppy track here last month, has every right to step forward and graduate. With J. Rosario taking the call, the daughter of Sky Kingdom seems like the logical top pick in a modest race for the level. Minji also makes her second career start, raising from the maiden $25,000 ranks while moving from the inside to the outside. The barn has good stats with second-time starters, so a forward move is likely. We’re expecting the winner to be one of these two with the edge on top to Skyvalue.

RACE 6: Post 3:10 CT. Grade: C
Use: 3-Front Door; 4-Dangerfield; 12-Altito

Forecast: We’re not crazy about the extreme outside draw but if he can negotiate a decent trip the tough old pro Altito can win this $12,500 claiming middle distance affair. The T. Amoss-trained gelding drops to a realistic level, retains J. Talamo, and has won 10 races during his career, though he’s only 1-for-11 over the Oaklawn Park main track. His recent numbers are solid, and against this group he might be able to produce the last run. Dangerfield exits a pair of tougher starter allowance events and a repeat of his runner-up effort over this track and distance two races back puts him in the hunt. T. Baze takes over and should have this J. Hollendorfer-trained gelding within striking range throughout. Front Door was taken for $25,000 two runs back and today surfaces for half that amount, but R. Diodoro barn plays the claiming game aggressively so the class drop isn’t necessarily a negative move. The Point of Entry gelding always has been a one-paced type but at this level he should at least get a piece of it. These are the three we’ll be including in our rolling exotics; feel free to go deeper if you can afford to.

RACE 7: Post 3:42 CT. Grade: B+
Single: 1-Wild Popit

Forecast: Wild Popit is a late-developing 5-year-old with plenty of ability and is finally getting around to showing it. After crossing the wire first in his last two starts (but disqualified two runs back), the R. Morse-trained horse stretches out for the first time and gives every indication that he’ll improve as the distances increase. In his recent maiden win, the son of Tapit was shuffled back early and given a very difficult task, but suddenly took hold behind horses entering the lane, angled out, and accelerated impressively to win as much best. With a clean break today he’ll draft into an ideal ground-saving, second flight trip and then be able to quicken when called upon. At 4-1 on the morning line he’s a strong win play and rolling exotic single.

RACE 8: Post 4:14 CT. Grade: B
Use: 4-Bobby’s Wicked One; 7-Hidden Scroll; 9-Whitmore

Forecast: Hidden Scroll earned a giant speed figure in his recent comeback at Gulfstream Park, winning under wraps like the top prospect he was supposed to be a year ago last winter. Clearly, the son of Hard Spun is most comfortable as a sprinter, and today we’ll find out just how much quality he has. The W. Mott-trained colt probably won’t be quick enough to make the lead but he should be within striking range throughout and have his chance from the quarter pole home. Whitmore practically owns Oaklawn Park; he’s an eight-time winner here and returned to top form when blowing past his outclassed foes in a listed stakes last month. A prototype late-running sprinter, the son of Pleasantly Perfect should have more than enough pace to compliment his style, and with good racing luck will be hard to contain in the final furlong. Bobby’s Wicked One may be the speed of the speed and has never been sharper, most recently winning a pair of listed sprint stakes at Fair Grounds with career-top speed figures. The son of Speightstown was good enough to finish second to Mitole in The Churchill Downs S.-G1 last year so this group won’t outclass him.

RACE 9: Post 4:45 CT. Grade: B
Use: 1-Shanghai Tariff; 6-Break Even

Forecast: We’re not really sure what happened to Break Even in her recent comeback – she was 4/5 and flashed speed for a half before caving in – but the talented filly has trained very well since so we’re willing to give the daughter of Country Day another chance against a group she can beat with anything close to her best effort. She switches to J. Rosario for a barn that has a terrific 27% strike rate with second-off-layoff runners, so at the 3-1 on the morning line she gets top billing. Shanghai Tariff, a genuine and consistent sprinting mare, isn’t anywhere near as fast on speed figures as Break Even but she’s been first or second in eight of 10 career starts over the Oaklawn Park main track and can be tough on the lead or from a stalking position. She’ll need to leave cleanly from the rail but should enjoy a nice ground-saving trip if she does. Strong preference on top goes to Break Even but we’ll have a few tickets backing her up with Shanghai Tariff.

RACE 10: Post 5:16 CT. Grade: B-
Use: 1-Ollie’s Candy; 11-Serengeti Empress; 14-Ce Ce

Forecast: This year’s edition of the Apple Blossom Handicap is a legitimate Grade-1 event – almost Breeders’ Cup Distaff quality – and with 14 entrants a good trip for any of the major contenders isn’t guaranteed. Ollie’s Candy is 12-1 on the morning line – we have to think she’s better than that – and from the rail the J. Sadler-trained mare is likely to enjoy an ideal second flight, ground saving journey. Relatively lightly-raced at age five with four wins from only 11 career starts, three of which were graded stakes, the daughter of Candy Ride may have been a tad short when third behind Ce Ce in the Beholder Mile-G1 last month but has trained well since and seems set to show her best stuff. She’s also dropping five pounds off that race and today lands J. Rosario, whose record riding for this barn is spectacular. Ce Ce has been superb in two comeback races and her thoroughly dominating win in the Beholder Mile was no fluke. The main concern, of course, is the 14-hole and the possibility that she winds up straddling Central Ave. approaching the clubhouse turn, but if she can manage to get over and save a reasonable amount of ground the daughter of Elusive Quality will make her presence felt. Serengeti Empress can be brilliant when she’s on her game, something less than that when she’s not, but the T. Amoss-trained daughter of Alternation looked terrific winning the Azeri S.-G2 (albeit over a sloppy track) and is certain to employ front running tactics again. If she manages to clear the field before the clubhouse turn – and Come Dancing may have something to say about that – she may never look back. These are the three we’ll be using in a highly contentious event, but if you feel the need to include a few more, go right ahead.

RACE 11: Post 5:47 CT. Grade: B-
Use: 1-Timeline; 2-Kurilov; 10-Matrooh

Forecast: The finale is another challenging affair offering several possibilities. The 10-year-old pro Matrooch crushed a similar $50,000 claiming field two races back but then was narrowly beaten at 40 cents on the dollar in a starter’s allowance event over a sloppy track he was supposed to like. Certainly capable of making amends, the R. Diodoro-trained gelding is reunited with “win rider” D. Cohen and should fold into a good pace-stalking trip outside and then have his chance to kick on with it when it counts. Kurilov, a nine-time career winner but a tad flat when a distant fourth in a tougher optional claimer 15 days ago, fits much better at this level and could easily snap back to top form. The Chilean-bred veteran is nicely drawn inside and should settle in the second flight and enjoy a ground-saving trip. Timeline once was good enough but has been sparingly raced the past couple of years and is seeking his first win since the summer of 2018. This is his first time for a tag and his second off a layoff so the son of Hard Spun has every right to produce a forward move.