Emily Gullikson takes a look at the Oaklawn Park Feb. 25 card and provides her OptixEQ analysis for Race 1, 5, and 8.
#7 TIZ THE JOURNEY had quite the “journey” making his return earlier this month, eliminated from competition (EX _EXCUSE on OptixNOTES) that day due to an accident on the track. He was forced to take up (TROUBLE+) at the time he was making his MOVE and seemed to be heading toward a contentious run at the time. Following Tiz the Journey since his debut, his lack of early speed is a prime reason he is still in the maiden ranks. While that is noted, it is interesting in this field which does not have many pacesetting types to find him sitting as a Square in Quad II on Surface/Distance. His prior form and the recent effort fit with this maiden claiming level and might just find the right field (and price) this afternoon to clear the condition.
#7 HARDLY A SECRET as projected by the morning line, expects to be a big favorite this afternoon and while certainly can make the case here, there are also reasons to be cautious with the horse coming off a three-month, 91-day layoff and taking the massive drop in class today. That combination has the clear red flags attached even as his races to this point fit at the level and the Diodoro barn looking to win races here at Oaklawn. Keeping with the slightly unconventional Nick Zito trend, #4 DEALIN’ STEALEN to make his second start of the meet and with upside from a good return effort on Jan. 29. His B- OptixGRADE fits in terms of class this afternoon and noted TRAFFIC and TROUBLE to finish behind the pacesetting winner that afternoon and capable to run more forwardly placed today with the Quad I/III Plot position. #10 TASHKENT holds upside making his second start of the meet and coming out of that same Jan. 29 event. Tashkent ran races above today’s OptixFIGRANGE last season to move forward in the second start of the cycle with upside given his WARM appearance on track and the WIDE trip coming off the 98-day layoff last month. He finds a rider change today to Vasquez, a rider that has been live this meet, and for trainer Karl Broberg noting that positive move this afternoon as well.
#3 BANK he will make his belated return to the races and look to pick up right where he left off last year at Oaklawn Park. A lightly raced runner has struggled to keep himself on-track though has been consistent in his races to date, especially when sprinting. Bank is shown split between Standard Quad II and Quad I on Surface/Distance; it is to be expected with the lighter SpeedRate and returning here with upside as a four-year-old for Santana to ride tactically towards that Quad I trip.