Sunny Oak can shine in opening day stakes at Fair Grounds

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

November 18th, 2016

Fair Grounds in New Orleans opens its lengthy 2016-17 meet on Saturday with a trio of overnight stakes for Louisiana-breds. The most popular from a betting perspective might be the $50,000 Happy Ticket (Race 6), a six-furlong dash for fillies and mares that attracted a field of 13 (how many of those will actually start remains to be seen).

The race has plenty of speed and a solid morning line favorite in Ramona's Wildcat, who's won two allowances and placed twice in open stakes company at Churchill Downs since joining the Tom Amoss barn. However, the three-year-old Sunny Oak (#9, 6-1 ML) deserves a look as a relatively less-exposed contender. The stakes winner is two-for-three in one-turn races, and shortens up from a mile after running second against older in a Delta Downs stakes on October 28, her first start in nearly four months.

Besides the turn back in distance and the expected improvement second off the layoff, Sunny Oak's BRIS Prime Power rating of 134.3 ranks first in the field. Also, jockey Miguel Mena knows the filly well having been aboard for two of her three career wins.