Pictured to the left is a scene that never gets old, Blind Luck and Havre de Grace trading strides to the wire. Havre de Grace, in the Fox Hill Farm red and white silks is now trained by one of The Turk's favorite trainers, Larry Jones, and all seems right in the equine world again. Blind Luck has had two unimpressive efforts as the heavy chalk on Santa Anita dirt, but she brings an impressive 17 of 17 in the money record into today's Azeri at Oaklawn Park and these two four year olds most likely will stage another battle, with only a few others that may challenge them.
Let's get after it!
Oaklawn Park Race 8-9-10-11: the Late Pick 4 including the Grade III Azeri and Grade II Rebel
As always, start your day with a quality past performance. My choice is formulator Deluxe from Daily Race Form that allow me to tailor the information I print, like having split times and workouts embedded in the running lines, and delete the things I don't want, like morning lines. Use whatever makes you comfortable: The Turk endorses no particular product (although I was asked, the only real endorsement deal I have is a product that is uniquely classy and artistic) Also check the track website, the scratches and changes and the weather.
In the opening leg of the late Pick Three and Pick Four we have an Optional Claiming Race with a price tag of $40,000 on two of the runners, run at 6 furlongs for fillies and mares 4 years old and up. While not high on Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, he's clipping along at 19% at this meet and his Glowing Report is my chalk. The filly runs for the fourth time in 2011, in the money in all of them. She'll be challenged by Eve Giselle, unraced in 13 months, Bikini Bella who runs with a price on her head and Bell's Shoes. I may flip Eve Giselle and Bikini Bella but my top four is set.
Race 9 is the Azeri and will be challenged by a field of seven. Blind Luck has run twice since running a solid final quarter to Place as the chalk behind Unrivaled Belle in the Breeders' Cup Distaff. She's Placed twice as a heavy chalk at Santa Anita this spring in two Grade II's with small fields and no pace. The last one, The La Canada is worth looking at for her closing kick.
The La Canada Grade II 13 February at 1 1/8 miles
A paceless, four horse graded workout. Yawn. Gomez gets the mount for trainer Hollendorfer. I'm most impressed by 17 of 17 in the money; 4 wins on fast dirt, 4 fake dirt wins, 4 wins at this distance and a win at OP, $2.45 MM in earnings for an $10,000 foal. Awesome. I wish her luck and she could easily win today, but I'm backing Havre de Grace. First time back since the Breeders' Cup Distaff, but training very well. Perhaps its too much too soon but Trainer Jones wins 38% of his first time with trainer runners and 42% of his 61-180 day layoffs and she ran very well off a longer break before. It's a flip of a coin.
Spacy Tracy and Absintheminded seem to have the best chance to send the chalks to the curb. Spacy Tracy is Anthony Dutrow trained and looks to turn the table on his previous charge, Havre de Grace. Two very sharp 4F in :47 and change makes the six year of Mare look attractive. Absintheminded, with Borel up for Trainer D. Wayne Lukas is in very good current form and makes the third start of her current form cycle. She bombed in three graded stakes races in 2010 before bouncing back against softer competition. Consider defensive bets at the right price!
In Race 10 we have the Grade II Rebel. Let's look back first at two key races, The Southwest at OP and The San Vincente at SA.
The Southwest Stakes Grade III 21 February at 1 Mile
6 wide at the top of the stretch, Archarcharch was in good position and drew away but Elite Alex had a lousy trip and was coming on and Picko's Pride had a good final 1/4 mile too, while J.P.'s Gusto was game and needed a few more hops (or an extra 1/16 of a mile).
The San Vincente Grade II 20 February at 7 furlongs
The two races are similar in that I like the losers a bit more than the winners, with no disrespect to Archarcharch or The Factor intended.
My chalk, albeit tepid, is Sway Away. I like the way he grinded through the smoking fast opening fractions and rallied and he wins with 30 more feet. I'm a big fan of The Factor already, and maybe I'm wrong, but he seems more like a dominant one turn sprinter. We'll find out. His sire, War Front was a grade II winning sprinter and its hard, not impossible, to outrun your DNA.
Elite Alex was six wide and was very impressive coming up the lane in the Southwest. J.P's Gusto had a better trip and I reckon should have beaten Archarcharch but didn't. Both are formidable. Picko's Pride took a big run up the lane too but let's keep him in perspective. The Factor and Archarcharch will be competitive and I also expect a good run from a Distorted Humor son, Alternation. Training very sharply and comes in off a nice N3L at 1 1/16 miles at OP. Watch the tote!
If your inclined to such things, the pick four ends with a 6f sprint maiden claimer with a $15,000 price tag with nine runners. I've narrowed it down to four, with the 7-3-6-8 my picks. Semiconductor/7 lost by a length in late February at OP at 6f but ran well. Thundersong/3 is the class of the bunch. Who knows but have some fun with it but keep it real: You can't cover everyone.
I'm looking forward to a good day of watching and reasonable betting. The day seems chalky to me and its going to take someone stretching themselves to make the payouts more than pedestrian. Keep the multirace bets within reason as its never fun to spend $100 bucks to make $50.
Have Fun, Turk Out!