Emily Gullikson takes a look at the Oaklawn Park Feb. 28 card and provides her OptixEQ analysis for Race 6 and 8.
The Dixie Belle Stakes is a solid feature race with some quality sophomore fillies. It is important with races such as this one, and when dealing with lightly raced runners, keyed by the “Yellow” PlotFit (caution) to utilize Notes as runners are capable to improve and regress off the limited starts.
Looking at OptixPLOT, #8 WINDMILL could hold a pace advantage here based off her debut win here on January 23rd. While the effort tough to knock she was able to get away with a slow (O4S) early pace from the inside taking pressure from the place finisher without much change in the running order from the top three finishers. That allowed Windmill to finish (Square) that afternoon and finds herself with a class test and likely more pace pressure today. She expects given the “Sun” Contention to take early pace pressure could see some of that “finish” as shown on the Plot away late, especially with this draw and forced to use and clear from the outside with the other speed inside. That is worth keeping in mind with the competitive nature stepping up to the stakes division; and expected a much shorter price than on debut just here just weeks ago.
#5 ABROGATE has enough tactical speed (left of the plot/first call) to keep pace with Windmill and drawn inside of that rival is less likely to allow her to clear to an easy early lone lead. Abrogate was able to control the race on the front end in her Churchill Downs debut win and backed up that effort in her allowance win here on January 24th. As the “class of the field” in that allowance race, Abrogate will find a test here, noting the OFR last month sat in the 87-79 Range and today is 92-84.
#2 MARIAH’S PRINCESS does not “standout” on the Plot, though has upside based on her races to date and with that improvement could find herself the right tracking trip from Quad II and offer value in the process. On debut, she found herself up close to a fast early pace and benefit from that start and some time off before returning in late November at the Fair Grounds. She was very impressive on return (B+ OptixGRADE) for that second start showing gate speed (POP) and patiently tracking outside rivals before taking over late. The quick turnaround along with the handling from the rail, seemed to play a role in her place finish in the Letellier Memorial Stakes. After breaking well the rider gave up position and in a tracking role was unable to run down the multiple stakes winner, Joy’s Rocket. The third place finisher, Charlie’s Penny came back to win the Silverbulletday Stakes last month. Bauer brings Mariah’s Princess rested and pointed to this spot looking well-intended today.
#3 MISS TWENTY is another “E” RunStyle though sits below all around and could struggle as shown on the Plot as a Circle in Quad III, to keep pace with Abrogate and Windmill here. #6 HEART FULL OF SOUL also looking to keep pace in that first flight. She has presented as a “need the lead” type thus far and often does not get out of the gate (SLOG) well, something to keep in mind given the Contention. #1 GOIN GOOD did run a 92 OptixFIG in her allowance turf win on December 6th at the Fair Grounds, however that race on the grass and finds herself shifting to the main track for the first time. There has not been much intent to run on the main track with her debut back in September also sprinting on the turf at Indiana Grand. She earned a B OptixGRADE for both efforts, a winning-type grade for the level, however, is stepping up in class this afternoon along with the changes in terms of surface and distance create some reservations; especially as these connections often receive wagering support and could land in underlay territory.
#4 BIG TIME will ship in from Fair Ground and takes up a tracking Plot spot from Quad II. While the distance change looks positive based on her one-turn record, she will be again tested here against open company and requires a career best to compete at this level, with her top 87 OptixFIG sitting on the lower end of RANGE. #7 SOMEONE SAID SO also well below RANGE with her OptixFIG recorded in both starts and sits as an outsider here. She had some run and capable to compete in the right spot.
RACE 8 – DOWNTHEDUSTYROAD STAKES
#4 SEKANI looks intended for this stakes race making her second start of the meet for trainer Brad Cox. She made her return following a 278-day layoff against open company on January 29th which looked every bit a prep and noting her stablemate, Lady Rocket, finishing second as the even money favorite. In terms of trip Sekani was not asked for her best or to show the tactical speed she is capable of racing on hold in the early stages. Despite the running line and 6th place finish she turned in a good effort all things considered and solid gallop out to get just what was required coming back from the layoff. #2 PROUD VICTORIA will require the right trip with her RunStyle and position from Quad IV. With that said, she should offer value here, exotic key, coming back from the layoff with some sneaky trips in the statebred stakes races last season. She presents upside from those trips as well as from a maturity standpoint running here as a four-year-old rather than as a sophomore taking on older in this stakes race last year.