Exotics plays for the 2023 Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn
Multiple graded stakes-winning mare Clairiere and 2022 Kentucky Oaks (G1) hero Secret Oath headline the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park on Saturday.
Below we offer a full field analysis and provide our best exotics plays — including exacta, trifecta, and superfecta tickets — for the 1 1/16-mile event for females four years old and up.
Azeri S. selections
- #3 Clairiere (6-5)
- #5 Interstatedaydream (3-1)
- #1 Secret Oath (5-2)
Azeri S. wagers
- $10 Exacta: 3 with 5 ($10)
- $2.50 Trifecta: 3 with 1, 5 with 1, 2, 5 ($10)
- $1 Superfecta: 3 with 1, 5 with 1, 2, 5, with 1, 2, 5, 6 ($8)
#1 SECRET OATH (5-2): Since winning the 2022 Kentucky Oaks, Secret Oath has failed to reach the winner’s circle in five starts, most recently finishing fifth by 5 1/2 lengths in the 1 1/8-mile Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). The Arrogate filly will make her four-year-old debut in the Azeri and will cut back to a distance from which she is 3-for-5 with a third-place finish. The last time the D. Wayne Lukas pupil raced at 8 1/2 furlongs, she finished a distant third to Society in the Cotillion (G1) while posting a 100 Brisnet Speed rating. Lukas is just a 6% winner in graded stakes and with horses coming off a layoff of more than 90 days, but Secret Oath has a shot breaking from the rail post, which is winning at an 18% clip, and she’s 3-for-4 at Oaklawn.
#2 LOVELY RIDE (15-1): The five-year-old will attempt to bounce back after getting beaten by just half a length at today’s distance in the Bayakoa S. (G3) after winning the 1 1/16-mile Pippin S. at Oaklawn. Trainer Robertino Diodoro is a 23% winner with routes but just a 9% winner in his last 58 graded stakes. Jockey Cristian Torres will stay in the saddle and is 15-6-4-2 paired with Diodoro over the last 14 days. Lovely Ride owns a 4-2-1-1 record at Oaklawn and a 9-3-2-1 record at today’s distance, but her top Speed rating (95) at 1 1/16 miles is a bit low compared to others in the field.
#3 CLAIRIERE (6-5): The daughter of Curlin has never finished out of the money in nine starts at today’s distance and won the 1 1/16-mile Ogden Phipps (G1) back in June while recording a 105 BRIS figure. She stretched out to 1 1/8 miles for her last three starts and finished a head third when posting a 106 BRIS figure in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff last out. Trainer Steve Asmussen is a 17% winner in graded stakes and a 19% winner with shippers, but he’s 22-for-202 at Oaklawn this meet. Regular rider Joel Rosario (19% winner this meet) will retain the mount.
#4 LE DA VIDA (15-1): Third in the 1 1/16-mile Bayakoa, Le Da Vida was 2 3/4 lengths behind second-place finisher Lovely Ride. The six-year-old was also 1 3/4 lengths behind today’s race rival when finishing third in the Pippin two back. Trainer Nacho Correas is just a 6% winner with graded stakes and a 10% winner with routes. Vincent Cheminaud is only an 8% winner with closers and a 13% winner with routes.
#5 INTERSTATEDAYDREAM (3-1): Coming off a more than six-month layoff, Interstatedaydream will make her four-year-old debut for Brad Cox, a 22% winner this meet who strikes at a 25% rate in graded stakes. The well-related daughter of Classic Empire boasts a 4-2-1-1 record at today’s distance and clocked a 100 BRIS figure in her most recent outing, in which she was a 3 3/4-length second to Green Up in the one-mile and 70-yard Cathryn Sophia S. Interstatedaydream is a multiple graded stakes winner and has turned in a number of fast workouts ahead of the Azeri. She’s in excellent position to kick off her four-year-old season with a graded stakes victory in her second start at Oaklawn. Florent Geroux (27% winner this meet) will stay in the silks.
#6 HIDDEN CONNECTION (15-1): Twelfth in last year’s Kentucky Oaks, Hidden Connection dropped down to the optional claiming level and romped to a 7 1/2-length win two back against weaker competition. She subsequently moved up to Grade 3 competition in the Houston Ladies Classic and came home 1 3/4 lengths in second to multiple graded stakes winner Pauline’s Pearl. Conditioner Bret Calhoun is a 23% winner in graded stakes but an 11% winner at Oaklawn, a track at which Hidden Connection has never raced before. She’ll keep jockey Reylu Gutierrez, a 24% winner paired up with Calhoun over the last two months. The four-year-old filly is a candidate for the minor awards.
#7 HOT AND SULTRY (20-1): The lightly raced four-year-old has run at a route distance just once, holding on to win by three-quarters of a length in a one-mile allowance at Churchill Downs last July while trained by Steve Asmussen. She transferred to Norm Casse’s barn following that victory and has won and placed second in two starts since, both at six furlongs. Casse is a 9% winner in graded stakes, but he’s red hot at Oaklawn, going 26-12-3-2 this meet. The Speightster filly is also 2-for-4 with two second-place finishes at Oaklawn, but there’s some question as to whether she’ll excel on the stretch-out to 8 1/2 furlongs.
#8 MOON SWAG (20-1): Brendan Walsh trainee Moon Swag won the Joseph E. Spanky Broussard Memorial S. two back. She then jumped back up to Grade 3 competition for the Houston Ladies Classic, finishing five lengths back in fourth, and 3 1/4 lengths behind second-place finisher Hidden Connection. The Malibu Moon mare owns a 9-2-1-4 record at today’s distance, but her best Speed figure at 1 1/16 miles is a 93, which she earned last out. A switch to hot jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. (15-5-0-1 the last seven days) and a sharp four-furlong workout on March 3 offer appeal, but Moon Swag is likely a step below some of her fellow race rivals in the Azeri.