Wide-open sequence makes early Pick 4 a must play at Oaklawn Park
The $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) is the obvious centerpiece of a huge day of racing at Oaklawn Park on Saturday. But there are a slew of fine betting opportunities throughout the 13-race card, including a testing sequence in the early pick 4.
With each of the quartet of races appearing to be somewhat wide-open, I feel that it is certainly a pool worth taking a swing at with the potential of a hefty return. And while my ticket is much pricier than my typical play, I feel that the investment is well worth the potential reward.
Here is my breakdown:
Race 2: Starter Allowance
The opening leg is the key to my wager, as I feel that the coverage in the following legs will get me to the finish line with a winning ticket. Six-furlong heat will have nine going postward.
#8 Gallant Plunger (7-2) looked the part last time out, and I like the cut back in distance for Asmussen. He does his best work at Oaklawn, and I consider the son of Candy Ride to be the one to beat.
#4 Top Gunner (5-2) romped over maiden claiming foes most recently and makes a first off the claim for Ortiz. Into Mischief four-year-old makes sense as the one to catch under Saez. #3 War Detonator (8-1) exits a swiftly run event against much better, and the gelding fits well at this level in his second off the claim.
Race 3: Maiden Special Weight
Six-furlong sprint for sophomore fillies didn’t attract the deepest field of all time. I like #1 Sianara (5-2) for Asmussen, but will also include a pair of first-time starters from strong barns -- #5 Priddis (6-1) and #8 Berry Good (5-1).
Race 4: Maiden Special Weight
An especially deep field of sophomores will vie in the six-furlong dash. #8 Following Sea (2-1) will take plenty of attention, and deservedly so, hailing from the mighty Baffert barn. And while this is often the type of contender that I would single, there is no chance that I can do so in this spot.
Second timer #2 Rising Empire (5-1), Asmussen’s #5 Happymac (3-1), expensive debuter #6 Amazing Rocket (4-1), and interesting first-time starter #9 Arms an Armor (8-1) all are eligible to run big and upend the favorite.
Race 5: Optional Claiming/Allowance
A field of 11 will go postward in a 1 1/16-mile test that makes closing out the ticket difficult. #5 Truculent (4-1) has run a pair of good ones at the meeting and could be the one in a tough field. I really liked his latest tally.
#2 Santos Dumont (9-2) was a smart runner-up with allowance foes on the course last out for Asmussen. #8 Impossible Task (3-1) has improved from a pair of runs off the lengthy break at this meeting, and he could peak third off the bench with Rosario in the silks.
And for a longshot stab, I will also include #10 Pickford (15-1). Hat Trick six-year-old is slowly rounding back into form, and he had multiple excuses for his last effort behind a dominant winner. Vazquez will aim to run them down late at a big number.