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Saturday, May 2: Oaklawn Park Wagering Strategies

by Jeff Siegel

May 1, 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 12:00 CT. Grade: B
Use: 1-Timely Tradition; 3-Miss Imperial

Forecast: New York shipper Timely Tradition arrives fresh from a career-top performance vs. $25,000 sellers and today is protected in a salty starter’s allowance sprint for fillies and mares. She doesn’t usually display much gate speed so her rail post may be a bit problematic but it’s clear that the R. Handal-trained mare is as good now as she’s ever been and with the presence of J. Rosario in the saddle she’s very likely to fire another big shot. First or second in 13 of 26 career starts, the daughter of First Defence always has been genuine and consistent. Miss Imperial seeks her fourth straight score in her first-off-the-claim and if she can run as well for new trainer M. Duncan as she did for B. Cox the multiple stakes-placed daughter of Maclean’s Music will be dangerous once again. Interestingly, this will be the seventh consecutive race in which she’s be ridden by a different jockey. We’ll prefer Timely Tradition on top but have tickets including both in our rolling exotics

RACE 2: Post 12:32 CT. Grade: B+
Single: 6-Scolding

Forecast: Scolding brought $475,00 at the 2019 OBS April sale where she breezed in 20 3/5 seconds, the fastest quarter mile at the preview session. She finally makes it to the races more than a year later – she was ready to run in March but came up with an issue and missed an entire month of training – and has done everything asked of her while preparing at Sam Houston, Benton Training Center in Louisiana, and most recently here at Oaklawn Park, where she turned in an eye-catching :47 2/5 gate work late last month, the fifth fastest of 83 for the distance. The S. Asmussen stable is solid with debut runners and the barn’s go-to rider R. Santana, Jr. takes the call, so this daughter of Carpe Diem looks cranked up and ready to win as a straight play and rolling exotic single.

RACE 3: Post 1:04 CT. Grade: B
Use: 2-Captain Don; 4-Tempt Fate

Forecast: This first-level allowance sprint for Arkansas-bred older horses should boil down to two main contenders, each exiting the $100,000 Rainbow Stakes. Captain Don, a good runner-up in the Rainbow over this track and distance last month while earning a career top speed figure, probably won’t need much more to beat this field. The son of Flat Out has a good pace-stalking/pressing style, and in a field without much zip it he may even be able to inherit the role as the controlling speed. Tempt Fate has rising numbers and was a good third in the Rainbow, winding up less than two lengths behind our top pick. There is, however, a two pound weight shift today in favor of Captain Don, for whatever that’s worth. We’ll use both in our rolling exotics and then press with Captain Don on top.

RACE 4: Post 1:36 CT. Grade: B-
Use: 7-Major Attraction; 9-Uncle Addouma; 11-Bank

Forecast: Bank and Major Attraction exit the same race in which they finished third and fourth, respectively, over a track that was a bit more wet than the track surface’s official “good” designation. We got the impression that Major Attraction didn’t really handle it and was struggling most of the way, though he remained in the thick of things until deep stretch. His runner-up effort at Fair Grounds the previous month wasn’t bad, so over a fast track today the son of Distorted Humor has a chance to step forward with his best try, and In a race that doesn’t have much early speed he should be within striking range throughout. In his first start since joining the S. Asmussen barn, Bank produced a significant forward move when saving ground throughout and staying on nicely while earning a much improved speed figure. Both of his sprint races were good, including his third place debut run at Churchill Downs last summer behind two next out winners (South Bend and Answer In), and with three nice breezes since raced the son of Bernardini should be primed for top try. Uncle Addouma is a first-timer from the M. McCarthy barn that brought $145,000 at the 2019 Timonium May sale after breezing a furlong in good style in :10 2/5. He’s shown some ability in the a.m. at Santa Anita, including a noteworthy :47 2/5 gate back in March, though in viewing the video of his works the son of Uncle Mo, while certainly having some talent, doesn’t necessarily strike us as a quick type. At any rate, we have to use him, especially with F. Prat taking the call. These are the three we’ll be including in our rolling exotics; a very slight edge on top may go to Major Attraction.

RACE 5: Post 2:10 CT. Grade: B
Use: 9-Bankit; 11-Endorsed; 12-Pirate’s Punch

Forecast: Endorsed has been tried in three Grade-1 races in his seven race career, so you know he’s always been highly-regarded. Most recently he finished a better-than-looked fifth when beaten just over three lengths despite being very wide every step of the way in the Santa Anita H.-G1. The son of Madaglia d’Oro sets his sights lower in this third-level allowance race while switching to J. Rosario, and a recent bullet workout over the deep Payson Park training track should have him on edge. In a race that should produce a strong early pace, the W. Mott-trained colt seems capable of producing the last run. Bankit has been facing tougher as well, and this deep-closing New York-bred colt should make an impression in the late stages based on the projected race flow. He’s a fit on speed figures but is winless in six starts over the Oaklawn Park main track, though he’s run some excellent races in good company. Pirate’s Punch takes the absolute worst of the draw but in his present form the son of Shanghai Bobby may be sharp enough to cross over and secure his coveted front-running or pace-stalking trip. He was a visually impressive five length winner over this track and distance vs. softer last time in a race that earned a strong a number, but this group is tougher, for sure.

RACE 6: Post 2:44 CT. Grade: B
Use: 4-Friar’s Road; 5-Hunt the Front

Forecast: Friar’s Road seems certain to receive plenty of play based on his obvious edge in the speed figure department and his mid-March strong runner-up effort to Shooter’s Shoot, a subsequent good allowance winner at Oaklawn Park. With the switch to F. Prat and the addition of blinkers, the son of Quality Road has much in his favor and is strictly the one to beat, but could he be a vulnerable favorite? Our feeling is that his last race may have flattered him a bit and in watching the video he struck us a grinding, one-paced type with no real turn of foot. Sure, he might simply be the best horse and win anyway, but while we’ll include him in our rolling exotics our main gamble goes to Hunt the Front. The deep-closing son of Revolutionary has finished second in each of his last three starts, switches to J. Rosario, and at this nine furlong trip the N. Zito-trained colt will have every chance to produce the last run, especially if there’s a normal-to-decent early pace. He’ll also be back on the fast ground that we suspect he prefers.

RACE 7: Post 3:16 CT. Grade: X
Use: 8-Gamine; 10-Speech; 13-Ain’t No Elmers

Forecast: Gamine had trained like the goods prior to her much-anticipated racing debut and the daughter of Into Mischief didn’t disappoint, winning under wraps at Santa Anita in early March with a stakes-quality speed figure. Everything she’s done in the morning since points to her being even better as the distances increase, so this stretch out in trip should not be worrisome at all. She’s what $1.8 million gets you in a two-year-old-in-training sale. On the small chance that she fails to reproduce her true ability for whatever reason, you can you use a couple of others on a back-up ticket. Speech, most recently second to the high class Donna Veloce in the Santa Ysabel S.-G3 last time out, apparently at this stage of her career can’t beat a real good filly but it takes a pretty decent one to beat her. Her numbers are pretty good and she picks up J. Castellano. Ain’t No Elmers unbeaten in two runaway sprints at Fair Grounds while earning impressive numbers, draws in from the also-eligible list and must leave from the far outside post. Hard to say who she was beating in Louisiana but she sure looked good doing it and on pedigree should be able to stay a middle distance.

RACE 8: Post 3:47 CT. Grade: B-
Use: 1-Benintendi; 4-Fortheluvofbourbon; 6-Caribbean; 10-Moretti

Forecast: The is a deep and powerful race for the level, an entry-level allowance affair that offers several possibilities. <bmoretti< b="">had to settle for second when his stable mate Blewitt got loose on the lead and proved impossible to catch in a highly-rated race for this condition at Gulfstream Park last month. The son of Medaglia d’Oro has earned consistently strong speed figures in his seven-race career and seems certain to continue to improve with experience and maturity. In a race loaded with pace-types, the T. Pletcher-trained colt should have every chance to tag the speed under J. Castellano. Fortheluvofbourbon, a lightly-raced gelding from the P. D’Amato barn, has produced a forward move in each of his three career starts and ran better than looked when finishing fifth after stumbling at the start in a hot race won by future star Pneumatic. The son of Bourbon Courage has a good stalking style and projects to enjoy an ideal second-flight trip and then have his chance from the quarter pole home. Benintendi likely will employ gate-to-wire tactics from his favorable rail draw in his first try around two turns. His Laurel Park speed figures match up quite nicely at this level; however, having finished second in his last three starts as an odds-on favorite makes him a bit difficult to trust. Caribbean has become a different sort of race horse this year after failing to do much of anything as a 3-year-old in California. A recent nine-length romp produced a career top number over this track and distance but this group is infinitely tougher. Yes, if you hand him a loose-on-the-lead trip the R. Diodoro-trained gelding may never look back, but with other speed signed on the son of Speightstown may have to resort to stalk-and-pounce tactics. In either case, he’s worth including on a ticket or two in rolling exotic play.

RACE 9: Post 4:19 CT. Grade: B+
Use: 3-Fearless; 7-Rotation

Forecast: Fearless was the victim of a brutal trip in the New Orleans Classic-G2, racing in traffic and in tight quarters and never really being able to abstract himself at any stage, eventually being shut off in mid-stretch and then winding up sixth as the 9/5 favorite in what was just his third career start. The talented Ghostzapper gelding, a highly impressive winner of his first two career outings, returns to the allowance ranks today, and a with trouble-free journey he should regain his winning form. Johnny V. takes over and likely will have this gelding in a pace-stalking, ground-saving trip position every step of the way. Rotation is worth using as a back-up. A nice runner-up with a good speed figure over a sloppy track in his first start since last summer, the S. Asmussen-trained colt may have hit the front too soon and was worn down late in that race but with patient tactics today the son of Tapit should produce a forward move and at the very least complete the exacta.

RACE 10: Post 4:54 CT. Grade: B-
Use: 2-Ginobili; 7-Candy Tycoon; 11-Rushie; 12-Background

Forecast: Here’s yet another monster first-level allowance middle distance affair, this one restricted to 3-year-olds. Rushie was no match for Charlatan when a distant second in a first-level allowance main track miler at Santa Anita in mid-March but even in defeat earned a strong speed figure while continuing his improving pattern. The son of Liam’s Map picks up J. Rosario and seems likely to settle into a good second flight spot outside and then have dead aim when the pressure is turned on. We’ll see what he’s made of today. Ginoboli tossed in a clunker in his local debut, breaking a bit slowly, getting behind horses while in traffic to the turn and then failing to respond when asked through the lane. He’s been trouble prone before and doesn’t always break well, so the talented but somewhat erratic son of Munnings may not be one to trust. However, this is his first try around two turns, and if he leaves running from his favorable inside draw the R. Baltas-trained colt could take this field a very long way. It’s hard to ignore his excellent runner-up effort in the San Vicente S.-G2 when beaten less than a length by Nadal two races back. Candy Tycoon was fanned into the parking lot around the clubhouse turn and lost whatever chance he may have had when far back behind Tiz the Law in the Florida Derby-G1, so we’ll toss that race out. The Twirling Candy colt was previously a distant second in the Fountain of Youth S.-G2 behind loose-on-the-lead Ete Indien, so against this group the T. Pletcher-trained warrants some consideration. Background couldn’t get untracked over the wet surface and finished far back in the Oaklawn Stakes lasts month but he’s liable to significantly improve on a fast surface and could make some noise from far off the pace if the fractions are fast enough to compliment his style. We’ll have tickets including all four in our rolling exotics and then press a bit keying Rushie on top.

RACE 11: Post 5:29 CT. Grade: X
Single: 1-Charlatan

Forecast: Charlatan will be the shortest priced horse on the entire 14-race program and it will take something unforeseen to see him defeated in the first division of the Arkansas Derby based on his superior form in California and his scintillating workouts leading up to his stakes debut. An extremely fast colt who showed he could easily handle a mile in his most recent start, the son of Speightstown lands the rail and catches a field without any pace whatsoever, which means the B. Baffert-trained, already with a huge edge in speed figures and a glaring advantage based on the projected pace flow, looks almost certain to remain unbeaten. Will the mile and one-eighth distance test him in any way? Not likely. Even money on the morning and almost certain to lower, he’ll be too short to play other than as a logical rolling exotic single. For exacta players, consider using Basin underneath. A Grade-1 winner as a two-year-old the S. Asmussen-trained colt has run a bit better than the lines will show in a pair of recent sloppy track races, in both cases seemingly uncomfortably in the going (yes, we know, he did win the Hopeful S.-G1 last year over a wet track). We’re quite interested to see how he performs on dry land, and from his outside draw shouldn’t have any traffic trouble. Do we think he can beat Charlatan? No, but might be able to finish second.

RACE 12: Post 6:04 CT. Grade: B-
Use: 2-Trophy Chaser; 4-Mr Freeze; 9-Tacitus

Forecast: The Oaklawn Handicap-G2 will feature 14 mostly evenly-matched older horses over nine furlongs in a throwback to some of the old classic races from decades past. What a challenging race to handicap! In his current form, Mr Freeze offers value at 6-1 on the morning line, though he’s far from being a single at that or price, or any price. Fresh from a career-top performance in the Gulfstream Park Mile, the D. Romans-trained horse remains a relatively fresh horse at age five with just 12 career starts, and while this mile and one-eighth distance may be stretching his limit, the son of To Honor and Serve can get the trip as long as he’s not facing the very best in the division. He’s probably most effective on the lead but can stalk and pounce if the race flow demands, so new jockey J. Talamo can play it by ear. Tacitus was a respectable fifth of 14 in the Saudi World Cup-G1 behind Maximum Security in late February and if the trip didn’t take too much out of him the W. Mott-trained son of Tapit should be quite formidable. He’s probably most effective when held up early and allowed to run late and should get that type of ride with the switch to Johnny V. Price players should also give a look to Trophy Chaser, rapidly improving and very fast on figures but unproven at this level. A winner of his last pair with triple-digit Beyer numbers, the J. Avila-trained colt is comfortably drawn comfortably inside and could possibly outrun his morning line of 12-1. Improbable was to have been included in our rolling exotic ticket but is a late scratch.

RACE 13: Post 6:43 CT. Grade: A-
Single: 5-Nadal

Forecast: Although his overall speed figure suffered a bit due to the intense pace battle that he was subjected to in the Rebel S.-G2, Nadal was super impressive in finding reserve energy that only top class horses have and we’re expecting the fractions to be a bit more comfortable for him today in this second division of the Arkansas Derby. The son of Blame has trained superbly at his home base at Santa Anita and returns to Oaklawn Park fitter, stronger, and most likely better while attempting to extend his unbeaten winning streak to four. Regular rider J. Rosario will take the early lead if its handed to him but has the option of tucking and stalking if the situation dictates. There’s a question of whether the B. Baffert-trained colt will lose some effectiveness at this nine furlong trip but the gamble is that he’ll handle it just fine, just as his pedigree suggests he should. At 5/2 on the morning line, he’s a strong straight play and rolling exotic single.

RACE 14: Post 7:14 CT. Grade: B-
Use: 5-Carlos Sixes; 8-Ghostly Who

Forecast: The traditional final race on the final day of the Oaklawn Park season is a starter’s $10,000 allowance over the marathon distance of a mile and three-quarters. Who really knows how many of these really want to run this far? Carlos Sixes has won at 10 furlongs on turf, so there’s that. The veteran son of Quality Road always has been a bit of a grinder so there’s a chance he’ll really enjoy the journey and in his present form the K. Broberg trained gelding deserves the edge on top. Ghostly Who, first or second in 13 of 24 career starts, can be counted on for an honest effort and it would not be shocking to see him as the early leader. From a high percentage barn and with a local win two races back, he’s worth including at 12-1 on the morning line.