OAKLAWN RACE 5:
#2 WILD UNION is listed as the morning line favorite and looks vulnerable in that role this afternoon. He will make his return here for Brad Cox following a 235-day layoff and shows up sprinting as a distance change. Wild Union has spent his career at the route distance and the change given the timing creates reservations at a short price. Wild Union does show a win last June going a one-turn mile at Churchill Downs, though should note he was flow aided-for that win just getting up late from off the pace. Between the layoff, distance, trip, and the price it is worth looking elsewhere for an alternative. #5 WAR DETONATOR could potentially hold a pace advantage in this spot with the “Snowflake” Contention and well-placed Square in Quad I. Trainer Jason Barkley had considered running him in a higher level allowance race last Saturday (Race 9) where War Detonator would have been an outsider, and in this spot positions himself as a contender. #3 BOX OF CHOCOLATES will make his second start of the meet and first off the claim here for Asmussen. He ran a competitive race on January 24th with some traffic, though have to note he caught a softer group than what he finds here. As he makes his second start of the form cycle, there is potential for improvement and has run races in the OptixFIGRANGE to compete here. It is also worth mentioning that Box of Chocolates began his racing career with Asmussen, the barn having some idea what they were getting involved with picking him up off that recent claim.
OAKLAWN RACE 8:
#5 OCEAN BREEZE has been running against some solid company and due for some racing luck this afternoon sitting here as a legit contender. She has yet to run a “bad” race, even her fourth place finish, her only finish off the board, on debut here (4/19/20) last season at Oaklawn Park, was sneaky good after a poor start and no match for the open length Baffert winner and future stakes winner, Merneith. Ocean Breeze rebounded to break her maiden in a dominant manner in the following start at Churchill Downs and from there moved right into stakes company. She recorded a “better than looked” show finish with an extra-wide trip in the Iowa Oaks (G3) and then right back for place in the Audubon Oaks at Ellis Park. She returned to Churchill Downs on September 4th, a solid allowance group on the Kentucky Oaks (G1) undercard. There was minimal change in running order as Ocean Breeze chased the top two around the track. She improved in her next two starts, both tight finishes and B OptixGRADE (winning effort for the level) to fit here in terms of class. Her OptixFIG sit well in RANGE and should find herself a favorable tracking trip according to OptixPLOT as a strong Square placed in the center of the Plot. She looks to have a pace and class advantage over morning line favorite #1 CROWN JEWEL. Crown Jewel could get that expected wagering attention here based on her open length maiden win last season; her win was secured with a perfect trip over a field that was not the strongest group on the day. #7 UNDINE looks to have some upside in this spot as well. She is positioned in Quad I as a Circle and could take up that role as she has been setting fast paces in her most recent starts. That does not seem her ideal trip and will be interesting to see the tactics used here by Garcia.