Oaklawn Park Stakes Spot Plays for April 1
A quartet of stakes races are carded for Oaklawn Park on Saturday, topped by the lucrative $1.25 million Arkansas Derby (G1). In this piece I will focus on the trio of undercard events.
Race 5 – Oaklawn Mile S. (G3)
A total of seven horses will go postward in the one-mile event on the dirt. As much as I like #1 Smile Happy (9-5) in general, I will be siding with Bob Baffert’s #7 Hopper (7-5) on this occasion. The Grade 3 winner is the speed of the field despite having blinkers removed, and the cutback in distance seems ideal for the talented colt. The Declaration of War four-year-old exits a good try in the Santa Anita H. (G1) and will be fully fit for his third outing since June. John Velazquez will be in the controls.
Race 8 – Hot Springs S.
The one-mile contest for three-year-olds is a nice spot for Three Chimneys’ homebred #3 Gun Pilot (7-2). By Gun Runner, the Steve Asmussen-trained colt didn’t handle sloppy going in the Rebel S. (G2) most recently but faces a more realistic task on Saturday. The bay ran a trio of good races to begin his career, which includes a sharp allowance tally on the surface on February 4, and I expect him to shine in the contest. The stalker will sit off of a contested early pace prior to moving to the fore in the lane with regular pilot Ricardo Santana in the silks.
Race 10 – Fantasy S. (G3)
Sophomore fillies will travel 1 1/16 miles in the key Kentucky Oaks (G1) prep race. Godolphin homebred #6 Wet Paint (8-5) won’t be much of a price in the affair, but I still can’t look past the potent late runner. Trained by Brad Cox, the bay daughter of Blame is three-for-three on dirt in her career and comes into this race off of a trio of very good morning moves as of late. Flavien Prat will guide the Honeybee S. (G3) victress and ask her for her run approaching the turn for home. She will be a formidable foe with anything resembling her best effort.