Scully: Spot plays for Oaklawn, Turfway Feb. 26
Saturday’s biggest racing will take place overseas, as the $20 million Saudi Cup (G1) highlights six lucrative Thoroughbred stakes in Saudi Arabia, but Oaklawn Park will offer the $1 million Rebel S. (G2) for Kentucky Derby contenders.
I will focus my plays on Oaklawn and Turfway Park.
Oaklawn – Race 7 (4:13 p.m. ET)
After not shipping from California, expected favorite McLaren Vale will scratch from the entry-level allowance, leaving Great Escape and Sky and Sand as the top two choices on the morning line, and an off track appears likely. #7 Ignitis ran his best race in the slop, rallying for third in the Smarty Jones S. two back, and he should appreciate the drop in class after an unplaced effort in the Southwest (G3). The D. Wayne Lukas trainee has more tactical speed than he’s displayed against stakes competition, and given the favorable draw Saturday, Ignitis should be able to race closer to the pace before offering his best.
Oaklawn – Race 10 (5:49 p.m. ET)
#11 Plausible Denile will make his career debut in the six-furlong maiden special weight, and the Pioneerof the Nile colt doesn’t appear to be facing the toughest competition. A sibling to three stakes winners, including a pair of first-out scorers, Plausible Denile shows a five-furlong bullet work in preparation for Jimmy Divito, who does well with firsters and has a couple of wins this meet. The gray sophomore is listed at 5-1 with Geovanni Franco.
Rebel S. (G2), Oaklawn – Race 11 (6:22 p.m. ET)
A little rank before finishing fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) last November, #7 Ben Diesel has been compromised by adverse post positions in his last two stakes attempts at Oaklawn, breaking from the far outside (post 13) in the Smarty Jones S. and the rail in the Southwest (G3). He still managed to finish a respectable third after a claustrophobic trip last time, and Ben Diesel is finally eligible to receive a favorable stalking trip here. And after being overbet in the last two, Ben Diesel should offer more value on Saturday (6-1 morning line).
Wintergreen S., Turfway – Race 5 (8:14 p.m. ET)
Twelve fillies and mares will contest the mile feature, and a fair amount of speed appears to be signed on. #11 Natalies Charm will step up to the stakes level in top form for Tommy Drury Jr., recording a sharp 5 3/4-length score over a solid group of allowance rivals on Jan. 14, and her last-out Brisnet Speed rating (86) is on par with her main rivals. A favorable stalking trip is expected in the third start off the layoff, and Natalie’s Charm should be poised to strike turning for home.