Shapiro analyzes Saturday's Late P4 Oaklawn Park
There is not much better entertainment to help get us through quarantine than a juicy, 12-race card Saturday afternoon in Arkansas, headlined by the $200,000 Oaklawn S. The 1 1/8-mile event for 3-year-olds was scheduled for May 2, but was brought forward because of the decision to move the Arkansas Derby (G1) to the first Saturday in May.
The late Pick 4, offered over the final four races of the card, features a pair of stakes and two other wide-open, two-turn contests. It is the most attractive sequence of the weekend.
Race 9: $150,000 Oaklawn Mile
The $150,000 Oaklawn Mile came up extremely strong. #3 Tom’s d’Etat is the deserving morning line choice in his first start of the year for trainer Al Stall. The son of Smart Strike closed out 2019 with a pair of awesome performances against better, including an easy 3 1/4 length score last November in the Clark (G1). The one-mile distance is a little shorter than he prefers, but he has a win at his only start at eight panels and at his best is just faster than these.
If Tom’s d’Etat is a bit short off the layoff or is not the same horse in 2020, #2 Mr. Money is the likeliest to get to the wire first. The Allied Racing Stable colt got really good in the spring of his 3-year-old campaign and unlike the chalk is best suited to race at one mile. The son of Goldencents should be fit off a strong series of drills at Fair Grounds and could be in for a big 4-year-old season.
#10 Dean Martini makes sense as the 7-2-morning line favorite for the Brad Cox barn, but I do not fully trust him in this special weight event at 1 1/16 miles. The son of Cairo Prince has tried the dirt and the turf, as well as sprinting and routing, and still has yet to find the winner’s circle. He has been consistent and is the most likely to hit the board, but the 3-year-old gelding draws to the outside and could be over bet. I will include, but also use a few others that offer better value.
#6 Ugo is a huge price for trainer James DiVito. The son of Stay Thirsty moves off the rail, gets blinkers, and stretches out to two turns after hardly being asked for his best on debut. He is one of several that could spring the upset.
Race 11: $200,000 Oaklawn S.
If 5-2-morning line favorite #4 Thousand Words wins on Saturday, I will not. The $1 million son of Pioneerof the Nile was victorious in his first three starts for Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, but had to work hard to beat modest bunches. In his most recent try against significantly better competition in the San Felipe (G2), he found a perfect pocket trip but came up completely empty. The Florida-bred lacks the early zip to make the lead in this bunch and the punch in the lane to run down a group of this caliber. He is an easy fade for me at this price.
My lukewarm top choice is #1 Basin. I would have preferred to see a bit more in the first start of his 3-year-old campaign, but it was a tough trip off the bench chasing a hot pace between rivals. Perhaps he will be better at one-turn or peaked as a 2-year-old, but he should get a great ground saving trip under Florent Geroux. I am willing to give him another chance.
I also will use #12 Farmington Road. The Quality Road colt ran a better than looks fourth in a Risen Star (G2) divison and should be closer to the pace on Saturday given the addition of blinkers and the presence of one the best gate jockeys around in Martin Garcia. The added ground only helps his chances. #8 Taishan got off to slow starts in his initial two tries versus winners, but broke cleanly on Mar. 14 and dominated a field in the slop. He has the upside to spring the upset and should get a perfect stalking trip under Joel Rosario. He is worth including.
#5 Popular Kid is the one to beat in the finale. The 6-year-old gelding has won two straight over the off going at Oaklawn Park and attracts the services of Joel Rosario in his second effort off the claim for trainer Jason Barkley. He has the tactical speed to find a cozy tracking trip and will benefit if the meteorologist’s prediction of a rainy day is correct. He is my top choice, but I will also include #6 Exulting. The son of Tapit found traffic early and never factored in the Razorback (G3) in mid-February. The Mike Maker trainee should appreciate the class drop after a near two-month freshening.
- 2,3 with 1,4,6,7,10,12 with 1,8,12 with 5,6 = $36