3 great races at Oaklawn today, none of which impact my Enlightened Trails but 1 at least, the Rebel, does prove significant toward the real Derby trail. The Razorback, on paper, seems to be the most exciting of the three. Here’s how I see them:
We’ll start with the Azeri, which is for fillies/mares 4YO+. This Grade 2 event is worth $350k and is 8.5 furlongs. Here’s my top 3, publishing before odds have been announced:
Theogony had mainly raced in Canada and now races in both the Heartland and Southern tracks. Won a 100k stakes race last summer, largely disappointing since then. Owns prior win first off layoff. 4 works at OP, all 4 very fast, best works of this field. I am impressed by her turn time of 23.8, best of these.
Call Pat won the Bayakoa (G3) here last out a month ago. Has consistently placed in most races over the last year, last several also Graded. Adjusted for run style, this deep closer may well prove to be the hidden speed of the field. Nice pattern of Brisnet speed figures in the 90s for the last 3 races.
High Dollar Woman won the Indiana Oaks last summer (G2). diminishing returns in last 2. Lone pure speed of the field. Goes back from sprint to route. Suggested odds: Call Pat 4-1; Sarah Sis 6-1; Streamline 5-2; Theogony 2-1; Meshell 24-1 Overlays: Theogony
Next is the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap for 4YOs +, Grade 3 event, 8.5 furlongs.
Carve won here last year in the 100k 5th Season, with mixed blessings in 6 races since. Top AWD numbers in the field (First Samurai/Apt, by AP Indy); 103 Brisnet achieved in the 5th Season is best for distance and track of this field. Moved up from 85 to 92 last out after layoff and claim. 4 works in prep, 3 very fast, 1 bullet. 1.6 second gain in turn time from last race, leads this field.
Incremental is best of the three-horse Umarov entry here. Last won in a claiming race at Prairie Meadows, decent placings at Churchill and OP since then. Recovered in pace with 91 Brisnet, surpassing 90 on 1/16 first after layoff. 91 is small new top since 90 in November.
Smack Smack won the Zia Championship and the Veterans in November at Zia Park, plus the Governor’s Cup at Remington. 8 wins, 15 placings in 20 starts. 4 works at OP, all 4 very fast at 4f-5f. Ran a bit wide through much of his last effort in a 75k optional claimer tho posted a nice 96 running 2nd best.
Suggested odds: Carve 9-2; Smack Smack 8-1; Upstart 14-1; Incremental 9-1; Domain’s Rap 9-1; Shotgun Kowboy 7-1; Far Right 7-1; Idolo Porteno 11-1; Looks To Spare 11-1.
Overlay: Idolo Porteno. Makes his US debut after 10 races in Argentina, winner of several Grade 1 events, adds Lasix again and takes a significant weight drop.
Now to the Grade 1 Rebel Stakes for top 3YOs, going 8.5 furlongs, for a 900k purse and some actual Derby points. Top 3 are these:
Cherry Wine had graduated from maiden 2 races in November, then duplicated her strong win with another in a 75k optional claimer on 1/9 in Gulfstream. Posted lifetime best of 85, 89, 90 last 3. Excellent turn time of 23.4, .8 seconds gain from last race.
Gray Sky is 7-1-2-2 lifetime, 5th in the Smarty Jones, then 2nd in a 70k allowance race last time out. 4 works since last race, 2 very fast, 1 a bullet.
I like Creator, narrowly over Cupid, for 3rd. Maiden win last out came in her 6th attempt, and after 4 2nds and 1 5th. Deep closer whose stretch kick makes him fastest of this field. Set small new top of 93 last time out itself a sharp increase from prior race of 78.
Suggested odds: Creator 6-1; Suddenbreakingnews 8-1; Cherry Wine 5-2; Gray Sky 5-1. Overlays: Cherry Wine, Gray Sky.
I’ve not been successful with handicapping steeplechase races, but I’m willing to take a swing at the big race on Friday, the Cheltenham Gold Cup. There just aren’t enough stats I can wrap my brain around. So I keep things simple and focus on similar stats that have worked for me with thoroughbreds.
Using info from sportinglife.com which stays on top of betting lines and racecards, my top 3 are these:
Don Cossack is a narrow and deserving favorite; likes good/soft going, has prior shipping win and also win from gaining in class. The Cooper/Elliott combo has a good competitive % of wins. You can’t argue with a 26-15-4-2 record!
Smad Place has a 25 furlong win, one of 4 horses here to do so. Switches back to Hutchinson, with whom he’s won prior. Slight gain in weight, a move which he’s won with before. King and Hutchinson also have competitive numbers together.
Essentially I’m leaning on jockey/trainer combos above most other stats, and for that I also like Djakadam, the early 2nd choice in the morning-line. This horse stretches out a bit, and has a prior win doing so, also has a 25-furlong win. Best jockey/trainer win combo in Walsh and Mullins.