by EMILY GULLIKSON
Emily Gullikson of OptixEQ gives insights into a pair of races Thursday at Oaklawn Park.
OAKLAWN PARK – Feb. 6
#1 RIKER McKnight will bring him back to make his second start of the meet and with some changes in terms of class and distance. He will stretch out here off the sprint back on January 25 and is eligible to be claimed here coming out of the starter allowance level to the claiming ranks. That combination is necessary as this 1 1/16-mile distance is his max and needs the right level of competition to carry him the distance. The change in distance also should see a change in run style and one that is likely to see him on the lead (see OptixPLOT below) and a threat on the front end.
#4 SATELLITE he scratched out of an 1 1/16-mile starter allowance event on opening day, and while he was capable in that spot, is a solid fit in this softer claiming event. His speed figures are on par for this race and class wise has been racing against a much tougher level of competition. He prefers to have some pace to run at and should have that here still must get the trip for the win.
#9 GOSPEL ABE he will make his second start of the meet coming out of that mentioned starter allowance (Race 3) on opening day. He ran evenly that afternoon and with that race under his belt combined with class relief is capable to step forward in this spot.
#5 WHENTHEDOVESCRY will make a quick turnaround here from the starter allowance here back on January 25. He was given a look that afternoon with a potential pace edge and overall ran a credible race to finish 3rd. This will be his second start off the layoff and from a race par standpoint will receive some class relief in against state-bred allowance company here. He again expects to utilize his early speed (Quad I Square) and to perhaps benefit from the recent fitness making his second start of the form cycle.
#8 PIECE OF WORK is a very interesting addition to this field making only his second career start and taking on older. He is a 3-year-old and at this time of the year it is a big test for this newly turned 3-year-old runners to step up against older and typically more experienced types. That said his debut was very impressive and there is some ability in this young runner. Connections certainly could be thinking about their options down the road, and even worth noting he was entered though scratched out of the Springboard Mile. While the challenge is noted, it would not take much of a move forward off his debut to compete here.