Oaklawn Park Live Race Meet FREE Betting Guide

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TwinSpires Staff

January 5th, 2018

The Oaklawn Park live racing meet has arrived and a full, robust analysis of all betting angles are covered for helping your handicapping. The Oaklawn Betting Guide.

Contents of the Betting Guide. Click a link below to read the related article, or scroll down.

Oaklawn Live Racing Stakes Schedule

Date Race Grade Purse Restrictions Surface Distance
Friday, Jan 12 Fifth Season   $125,000 4&UP Dirt 1 1/16 Miles
Saturday, Jan 13 Pippin   $125,000 F&M 4&UP Dirt 1 1/16 Miles
Monday, Jan 15 Smarty Jones   $150,000 3YO Dirt 1 Mile
Saturday, Jan 20 Dixie Belle   $125,000 F 3YO Dirt 6 Furlongs
Saturday, Jan 27 American Beauty   $125,000 F&M 4&UP Dirt 6 Furlongs
Saturday, Feb 03 King Cotton   $125,000 4&UP Dirt 6 Furlongs
Saturday, Feb 10 Martha Washington   $125,000 F 3YO Dirt 1 Mile
Saturday, Feb 17 Bayakoa III $150,000 F&M 4&UP Dirt 1 1/16 Miles
Monday, Feb 19 Razorback Handicap III $500,000 4&UP Dirt 1 1/16 Miles
Monday, Feb 19 Southwest III $500,000 3YO Dirt 1 1/16 Miles
Saturday, Feb 24 Downthedustyroad Breeders’   $100,000 F&M 3&UP Dirt 6 Furlongs
Saturday, Feb 24 Gazebo   $125,000 3YO Dirt 6 Furlongs
Saturday, Mar 3 Nodouble Breeders’   $100,000 3&UP Dirt 6 Furlongs
Saturday, Mar 3 Spring Fever   $125,000 F&M 4&UP Dirt 5 1/2 Furlongs
Saturday, Mar 10 Hot Springs   $125,000 4&UP Dirt 6 Furlongs
Saturday, Mar 10 Honeybee III $200,000 F 3&UP Dirt 1 1/16 Miles
Saturday, Mar 17 Essex Handicap   $300,000 4&UP Dirt 1 1/16 Miles
Saturday, Mar 17 Azeri II $350,000 F&M 4&UP Dirt 1 1/16 Miles
Saturday, Mar 17 Rebel II $900,000 3YO Dirt 1 1/16 Miles
Saturday, Mar 24 Purple Martin   $150,000 F 3YO Dirt 6 Furlongs
Friday, Mar 30 Rainbow   $100,000 3YO Dirt 6 Furlongs
Saturday, Mar 31 Rainbow Miss   $100,000 F 3YO Dirt 6 Furlongs
Saturday, April 07 Arkansas Breeders’-Open   $100,000 3&UP Dirt 1 1/16 Miles
Saturday, April 07 Carousel   $150,000 F&M 4&UP Dirt 6 Furlongs
Thursday, April 12 Bachelor   $150,000 3YO Dirt 6 Furlongs
Friday, April 13 Fantasy III $400,000 F 3YO Dirt 1 1/16 Miles
Friday, April 13 Apple Blossom Handicap I $700,000 F&M 4&UP Dirt 1 1/16 Miles
Saturday, April 14 Northern Spur   $150,000 3YO Dirt 1 1/16 Miles
Saturday, April 14 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap III $400,000 4&UP Dirt 6 Furlongs
Saturday, April 14 Oaklawn Handicap II $750,000 4&UP Dirt 1 1/8 Miles
Saturday, April 14 Arkansas Derby I $1,000,000 3YO Dirt 1 1/8 Miles


Guide to the Oaklawn Graded Stakes Schedule

by Alastair Bull

Top-class older horses, along with numerous Kentucky Derby and Oaks hopefuls, will produce plenty of high-quality racing and betting opportunities at Oaklawn Park this year.

Thirty-one races, eleven of them graded, with a total value of $6.825 million make up the stakes schedule at the Hot Springs, Arkansas track.

The Oaklawn Park meeting Jan. 12-April 14 is best-known as an important step on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, with four races carrying qualifying points. They begin with the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 15, and then move to the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) on Presidents Day, Feb. 19.

The 3-year-olds then move on to the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2), run over 1 1/16 miles March 17, and the series climaxes with the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 14.

All races, especially the Rebel and the Arkansas Derby, have been important stepping stones onto the Classics. American Pharoah won both on his way to the Triple Crown, while other Classic winners who were victorious in one of these races include Sunny’s Halo, Pine Bluff, Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex, Curlin, and Lookin At Lucky.

Not to be overlooked are the trio of Oaklawn Park races that make up part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks: the $125,000 Martha Washington Stakes Feb. 10, the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 10, and the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G2) April 13. Winners of these races that later won the Kentucky Oaks include Davona Dale, Bold ‘n Determined, and Rachel Alexandra.

With all the focus on the 3-year-old races it’s easy to forget the contests for older horses, but they are always high-quality affairs.

The most notable is the Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) for fillies and mares April 13. The winner’s list is like a who’s who of great American mares, including Havre de Grace, Zenyatta (twice), Azeri (three times), Escena, Paseana, and Bayakoa.

Two of those Apple Blossom winners have graded distaff races at Oaklawn Park named after them: the $150,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) Feb, 17, and the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 17.

In a notable change, the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses was moved last year from March to February to help attract horses on their way to the Dubai World Cup, and it duly attracted Gun Runner, who won easily ahead. It remains in its February slot this year.

Arkansas Derby day, April 14, also features two graded races for older horses: the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2), which has been won by outstanding horses such as Cigar, Turkoman, and Will Take Charge, and the $400,000 Count Fleet Handicap (G3) for six-furlong sprinters.

With the large prizemoney, the Oaklawn Stakes usually attracts big fields, making the excitement – and the betting odds – that much more appealing.


How to Bet Oaklawn Park Using Past Performances

by Ed DeRosa

Oaklawn Park is one of the few tracks whose average exacta and trifecta payouts are higher than the corresponding two- and three-horse multi-race wagers (i.e. doubles and Pick 3s), which in turn makes it one of the few tracks I’ll actively look to get involved in the vertical wagers.

The $2 Pick 4 ($0.50 minimum) does pay more than the average $2 superfecta ($0.10) probably because of those said minimums, and it (the Pick 4) is one of the best bets at the track considering the Pick 3 pays an average of $801.96, which is an 11.5% overlay versus the average win parlay (based on $14.22 average win price) but the Pick 4 pays $8,392.28, a 64% premium!

Connecting the dots on those double-digit field sizes can be tough, but there are some clues in the Past Performances that can give bettors confidence in either A) finding a valuable single, or B) adding horses at big prices that lead to these inflated payouts.

Using my ALLWAYS database that includes entries and results at Oaklawn since January 13, 2012 (i.e. the past six seasons), I have identified data points in the past performances that are helpful identifying winners.

Not surprisingly, Brisnet Prime Power does well. From 2,652 races, the impact value of the top-ranked horses by Prime Power is 2.47, which means they win a greater percentage of the time than field size would indicate, BUT the ROI on said horses is a putrid -19.5%, which is worse than the win takeout.
I.e., Prime Power gets overbet.

However, there is hope. While the impact value for the second- and third-ranked Prime Power horses goes down, the ROI actually goes up to -11.5% for the second rank and -7% (beating takeout) for the third rank. It then tanks for the fourth-ranked horse to -22.5%.

The takeaway, then, is that being ranked on top isn’t what’s necessarily important but being within a point or two of the top-ranked horse can be the better bet—especially at higher odds.

So the stats support using Prime Power to identify logical contenders, but what about bigger prices? Since 2012, only 20% of all winners paid at least $18 (8-to-1), and the best handicapping approach to finding those winners was to look for high-priced speed sprinting.

Some clues in the PPs to find a horse who might be a threat on the front-end are:

  • Quirin Speed Points
    • An 8 at a big price would be a must use
    • Sometimes it’s not about the raw number but the relationship to the competition. I.e. a bunch of E8s is not as intriguing as a E/P 6 when no one else is an “E” or “E/P” and/or has no more than 3 Quirin Speed Points
  • E1 and E2 pace ratings
    • Again, this is very price dependent, but consistently having the fastest E1 pace ratings and being a big price is a must use.
    • Same goes for E2—especially if those numbers are higher than E1. I’m willing to ignore poor LP and final Speed Ratings if a horse can show an ability to quicken in the 2nd call when alone on the lead

So to summarize, Prime Power is my go-to when it comes to identifying base contenders, but early speed is more likely to lead me to a price.


Sires to Watch at Oaklawn Park

by Ed DeRosa

One of the fun things about gambling on Oaklawn Park is the chance to dive into some pedigrees that you rarely see elsewhere, and more importantly—make some money off of them.

Of course, Oaklawn is the only track to offer races for Arkansas-bred horses, and those races are replete with Arkansas-based stallions. Some names are more recognizable than others, and recognition can lead to underlays (and lack thereof to overlays).

The best examples of this are Primary Suspect, who in 2017 led all Arkansas-based stallions by runners, wins, repeat winners, and earnings, and Storm and a Half, who was sixth in runners, third in winners, third in repeat winners, and sixth in earnings.

Based on those rankings, you might assume Primary Suspect is a slightly better stallion than Stom and a Half (and maybe even on par considering Primary Suspect had more runners). From a wagering, standpoint, however, Primary Suspect has proven to be a much better bet the past five seasons with a -0.1% ROI (practically break even) from 395 starts and 44 wins (11.1%) paying an average of $17.94.

Storm and a Half, however, is 31/438 (7.1%) with a -58.2% on a $11.82 average win price. He has more horses but fewer winners who pay less when they do win. That’s not good.

Other Arkansas sires to watch (with at least 50 starts past five seasons) are Explosive Truth (9/60, +53%) and Cinnamon Creek (15/88, +18.2%).

On the negative side, some known commodities are clearly overbet: Brahms—second on the Arkansas sire list by earnings for 2017—is just 3/53 with his Oaklawn progeny and an ROI of -70.8%. Jonesboro—third on the aforementioned list—has gone 18/183 with a -59.8% ROI.

Some sires have not had a winner in the past five seasons with Pollard’s Vision leading the charge on a 0/55 skid. Others not doing well include Dove Hunt (38), Wilburn (37), Mi Cielo (35), and Spotsgone (34).

Of the known names, Tapit has thrown plenty of winners at Oaklawn—leading in both that category and earnings the past 5 years—but he’s no secret given his -24.7% ROI.

Of the big-name stallions, Malibu Moon’s progeny seems to enjoy Hot Springs most, as they are 29/203 (14.3%) but sport a +14.9% ROI. Of the 32 stallions with at least 130 starts, he’s the only one with a positive ROI (though Primary Suspect is very close).

Other positive ROI stallions with at least 100 starts are Scat Daddy (+0.5%), Officer (+3.9%), Indian Charlie (+3.4%), Unbridled’s Song (+4.1%), Zensational (+8.5%), Elusive Quality (+3.7%), and Langfuhr (+10.5%) with an honorable mention to Summer Bird, who is break even.


Apple Blossom Trends at Oaklawn Park

by Kellie Reilly

Oaklawn Park’s signature race for older fillies and mares, the Apple Blossom, has held Grade 1 status for all but two years (1990-91) since it was first elevated to the top level in 1982. The trends over the past two decades reflect that status, for Apple Blossom winners have tended to be already proven Grade 1 competitors.

Indeed, 18 of the last 20 winners had at least participated in a Grade 1 contest prior to the Apple Blossom. The two exceptions are Zenyatta, whose first Apple Blossom came in her Grade 1 debut in 2008, and Seventh Street (2009), exiting a second in the Barbara Fritchie (G2) in her stakes premiere. Seventh Street is the biggest outlier of all, since she’s the only Apple Blossom winner of the past 20 years who hadn’t already scored a graded victory.

Of the 18 with Grade 1 experience, 11 were Grade 1 winners going in and five were Grade 1-placed. The two who’d been unplaced in previous Grade 1s, On Fire Baby (2013) and Forever Unbridled (2016), had both competed in the Kentucky Oaks (G1).

As that stat implies, Kentucky Oaks alumnae are well represented on the Apple Blossom honor roll, with no fewer than nine winners in the last 20 years, including the past six in a row. While Plum Pretty (2012) and Untapable (2015) turned the Oaks/Apple Blossom double, Escena (1998), Banshee Breeze (1999), and Ermine (2007) had placed second in the Oaks, Stellar Wind (2017) had been fourth, and Close Hatches (2014) was an Oaks also-ran along with On Fire Baby and Forever Unbridled.

Another strong indicator is participation in the preceding fall’s Breeders’ Cup, a profile fitting 10 of the last 20 Apple Blossom winners. Zenyatta stands alone on this list by landing the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) on the way to her second Apple Blossom in 2010. The other nine are logically associated with the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1).

Azeri followed this pattern once in her Apple Blossom three-peat (2002-04), taking the 2003 edition in her first start since conquering the 2002 Distaff. Untapable also won both races, while Escena, Banshee Breeze, Heritage of Gold (2000), Havre de Grace (2011), and Close Hatches previously placed in the Distaff. Stellar Wind, a troubled second in the 2015 Distaff, was fourth in the renewal at Santa Anita in her last start prior to the Apple Blossom. Plum Pretty was likewise off the board in 2011 before her Apple Blossom comeback.

Given its correlation with the Breeders’ Cup, the Apple Blossom has a relationship to the Eclipse Awards as well. Twelve of the last 20 winners either had been voted champions already or went on to year-end honors following their Apple Blossom heroics. (Azeri and Zenyatta boost the number as multiple winners.) That total rises to 13 if you include presumptive 2017 champion older female Forever Unbridled. And three became Horses of the Year – Azeri, Zenyatta, and Havre de Grace.

Azeri was already a Grade 1 heroine going into her first Apple Blossom as the Santa Margarita (G1) winner. The remaining three Apple Blossom winners without a Breeders’ Cup or Kentucky Oaks angle, but with Grade 1 credits, are Gourmet Girl (2001), the 1999 Milady (G1) heroine; Dream of Summer (2005), a Grade 2 vixen who was coming off a near-miss in the Santa Margarita; and Spun Sugar (2006), likewise a Grade 2 winner but placed in a trio of Grade 1s as a sophomore.

Aside from the essential Grade 1 background, Apple Blossom winners also tend to enter in top form. Five were making their seasonal reappearances here, but of the 15 with at least one prep under their belt, 14 had won or placed in their prior outing. Only Gourmet Girl, fifth in the Santa Margarita, was unplaced.

In light of the quality of the Apple Blossom winners, it’s not surprising that 17 of them went off at odds of 3-1 or less, and eight were odds-on favorites. But value players can take note that both double-digit upsetters fit the Grade 1 background angle – Gourmet Girl (10-1) as a top-level winner and On Fire Baby (12-1) through her Kentucky Oaks experience.


Oaklawn At A Glance from the last full meet



Exacta 110.82
Daily Double 106.68
Trifecta 834.01
Pick 3 801.96
Superfecta 6,443.54
Pick 4 8,392.28
Pick 5 26,627.22


TRACK BIAS MEET (01/13 - 04/15)    
Distance # Race % Wire Best Style Best Posts
6.0f Dirt 303 24% E/P Rail
1 Mile Dirt 63 24% E/P Middle
1 1/16m Dirt 132 17% E/P Inside


TRACK BIAS WEEK (04/09 - 04/15)    
Distance # Race % Wire Best Style Best Posts
6.0f Dirt 28 14% E/P Middle
1 Mile Dirt 5 40% E Rail/Ins
1 1/16m Dirt 14 14% E/P Middle


WHO'S HOT, WHO'S NOT          
HOT TRAINERS Starts Wins Place Show Avg. Odds Winning Favorites '16-'17 Win %
Sadler John W. 3 2 0 0 2.27 1 17%
Witt II Ernie 4 2 0 0 5.3 1 15%
Ortiz John Alexander 6 2 0 1 8.38 0 14%
HOT JOCKEYS Starts Wins Place Show Avg. Odds Winning Favorites '16-'17 Win %
Contreras Luis 33 9 6 3 6.77 3 17%
COLD TRAINERS Starts Wins Place Show Avg. Odds Beaten Favorites '16-'17 Win %
Martin William N. 13 0 2 2 24.46 0 13%
Carranza Miguel 12 0 1 0 56.86 0 4%
Vance David R. 12 0 2 0 15.56 0 11%
COLD JOCKEYS Starts Wins Place Show Avg. Odds Beaten Favorites '16-'17 Win %
Eramia Richard E. 26 0 1 4 17.8 2 14%
Rocco, Jr. Joseph 13 0 2 1 14.44 1 11%
Borel Calvin H. 11 0 1 2 21.97 1 7%
St. Julien Marlon 11 0 1 2 35.65 0 5%
Corbett Glenn W. 10 0 1 0 31.32 0 12%

Read more information in our free online betting guide portal.