May 24, 2022

OptixPLOT for the 2020 Oaklawn Stakes

Oaklawn Park
(Vance Hanson photo)

RACE 11 – Oaklawn Stakes:

#1 BASIN Asmussen trainee will make his second start of the season and with some upside with that start under his belt. He showed some ability and his class last year running strongly in maiden special weight events before taking the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga. With that win, a return was calculated for 2020 and the Derby trail when making his first start of the season last month in the Rebel (G2). All around it was a good effort from him considering the layoff, the first start around two turns, as well as the trip that afternoon. A bit different journey than his races last season running in traffic and finding some trouble early on and into the first turn. He should get the needed experience from that race and with that start out of the way would not be surprised to see Geroux taking over here and from the rail be more assertive right from the start. From a class (OptixGRADE) and OptixFIG, speed figure standpoint he stacks up in this event and especially so should he take that step forward this afternoon.

#2 COACH BAHE a steadily improving type made a decent run in the Rebel recording a fifth-place finish. While still light on speed figures (OptixFIG), he really has to step forward to be considered a top-tier contender, something that looks a reach though is capable to compete for the minors.

#3 MR. BIG NEWS following the strong maiden win (in perhaps a weaker field) back in January.  Connections were encouraged to give a stakes try showing up three weeks later in the Risen Star (G2). With an overall even effort (C+ OptixGRADE) he needs to show more, making him below at the moment.

#4 THOUSAND WORDS hard to find any real excuse for him in the San Felipe (G2), a race he will look to rebound from shipping in for Bob Baffert. With that race behind him he has shown some class (B+ OptixGRADES) in his prior starts and races that make him a fit in this event. With that said, he does have to rebound and even take a step forward from his two graded stakes wins. In both the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) and the Robert B. Lewis (G3) he was given the proper handling and, without being overly flashy, won those races on his ability. Trip does seem to be the key with him as he is a bit of a grinder and needs to be up “in the mix” early to run his race. That also has carried into his morning works and even the recent works coming out of the San Felipe. Baffert has worked to put some stamina (even experimented with the blinkers off on March 28) into him for those drills, however visually no real change or progression out of the recent series as he ships in here.

#5 SIR RICK will be tested for class this afternoon stepping up off the recent four-race win streak and win over at Sunland Park in the Mine That Bird Derby. He asserted himself taking some pressure while setting modest fractions before getting clear to the wire late. He did earn a solid speed figure for the effort, though he should have considering the pace being moderate as well as the five-horse field that day; and even when getting clear was under a drive and finishing all out to the wire. That is noted as there does not look to be upside (improvement) from that effort and would need to pair that race to compete here. With that said, the added distance could be a factor as well, and while not overly clear just on his running lines but visually could see some limitations in that department.

#6 SHOPLIFTED while consistent he has yet to take that needed step forward as a 3-year-old and that leaves some concerns with him and progression on the Triple Crown trail. He found a very favorable trip, on the favorable part of the track, saving ground in the Smarty Jones S. unable to do more than third; and followed that up with an even run in the Southwest (G3). His running style suggests he will be able to find another favorable trip based on his Plot and tracking Square in Quad II/IV. In the past, a case has been made for him in terms of upside and improvement to compete at this level. However, at this point it is tough to make that same case and needs to show some turnaround here to keep going as a contender at this stakes level.

#7 FLAP JACK certainly there could be upside present as he makes his second start off the layoff and coming into this race off the wide (X_WIDE) trip last month in the Gotham (G3). The ride that afternoon probably could have been more assertive as well after breaking a step slow and moving up to track close to the early pace. A more assertive ride on that front seems expected here especially for this distance. The distance of this race is in play and worth noting as he does present more of a “one-turn” type.

#8 TAISHAN not willing to chance it in terms of trip after the TROUBLE in the Southwest. Rosario took the race to the field breaking on top from the rail and asserting his class in a rebounding win last month here at Oaklawn Park. Overall, he has presented as a runner with some ability and with improvement following the slow start (SLOG) and running against the dynamics in the Sham (G3), and again finding that trouble in the Southwest as well as ground loss (WIDE) that afternoon he will look to compete at the stakes level once again. While his more successful races have been when allowed to run forwardly placed, he does not seem like true “need the lead” type. He does expect to be somewhat forwardly placed here and will be asked for his best and to show class (pairing his most recent OptixFIG) stepping back up to face runners on this stakes level.

#9 DIGITAL has run some “fast” races that can compete at this stakes level, though the main concern with him in this event is in the stamina department. Distance looks to be a factor and with some limitations shown in his two more recent starts will have to prove this route distance is within his capabilities.

#10 SOMETHING NATURAL, to his credit, has run well over this course at Oaklawn Park and with some foundation from that pair of races and recent stakes show finish in the Rushaway S. at Turfway Park last month. With that said, he has a lot to prove against this field of competition and has yet to run a race fast enough (OptixFIG below OptixFIGRANGE) for this race par. The improvement will be needed on that front to be a main contender, though is worth keeping use of for the underneath plays.

#11 BACKGROUND steadily improving type is tough to knock and certainly worth his shot in this race based on his season here at Oaklawn Park. He proved his “better than looked” BTL effort on debut was no fluke backing up that show finish with a solid open length wide maiden breaking win in February. He stepped up well enough in the recent allowance race to finish third, and perhaps even upgraded further given the winner TAISHAN won on the lead and the place finish chased him throughout as Background was one of only a pair in that allowance race to make up ground and improve position.

#12 FARMINGTON ROAD an exciting prospect and contender here coming out of the Risen Star back in February and with a sneaky good effort that afternoon. He was slightly against the dynamics and with some ground loss he made a move from off the pace and continued to make up ground on the top three finishers with still showing run on the gallop out. He projects to find more pace to run at according to the “SunContention and 47 SpeedRate in his favor. He is positioned down in Quad IV as a Square and will be running from off the pace. He does seem based on his visuals to have the ability to race a bit closer up than he was in the Risen Star and will be adding the blinkers here, perhaps showing some positive intention on that front.

#13 GOLD STREET will be in a position to rebound this afternoon and overall upside coming out of the Southwest when he was not given his fair chance to compete. Most of that had to do with TACTICS as he was rated early on and not allowed to show his natural early speed, and speed that had assisted him with success. It is not surprising to see a rider change and with Tyler Baze taking over is likely to see him get back to those front running ways. That trip is almost a given as well as he draws well outside here and will have to use and go to the lead right away to have any chance and avoid losing more ground than necessary right away. Trip and distance will be hurdles here, despite that upside.

OptixPLOT Oaklawn Stakes