With minimal changes from Standard (current form) to Surface/Distance, the “Green” PlotFit will guide the pace handicapping for this claiming event where race dynamics should have a say in the outcome. There is a solid combination of Contention with the “Fire” rating paired with the above average 56 SpeedRate. That scenario could make things difficult for #8 CATHOLIC GUILT and #9 THE ROCK SAYS – the pair, according to the morning line, who could take the bulk of the wagering support. While the case can be made for each as individuals, the complexion of the race plays against this duo with a similar running style and position in Quad I. With the added pace pressure from #1 TILLIS and #5 EASTSIDE COOL, the “Fire” potential is there to cancel each other out late.
#3 BIG THORN could also find his share of public support and his way into the early mix based on his Standard position in Quad I. He shows a subtle change on Surface/Distance taking up a stalking role, Quad II Square, a trip that could be favorable in this dynamic. As he is landing here with the layoff and the Plot change, some value should be expected to play.
#4 ALL WEST lands in a similar Surface/Distance Quad II position and should find a favorable trip with his preferred PC RunStyle. A Square would be more favorable to his Circle; however, some consideration to that shape is based on the recent trips, surface conditions, and class level playing a factor in his races. There should be the required compensation on the board in this case. This will be his first start back off a 115-day layoff exiting a productive Sept. 23 claiming race at Churchill Downs holding upside on that front for Moquett, a barn that has started to find their rhythm this meet.
In addition to pacesetter Tillis, Von Hemel will also send out #6 GREAT FACES. Today’s Contention and higher SpeedRate should benefit this horse as it has in the past. The subtle class change running today for a tag following the minor awards at the Remington Park allowance condition suggest some positive intent placing Great Faces where he can compete.
#7 SHOFAR has a more lateral class change wheeling back in just nine days. He has been holding his form in terms of OptixFIG though will need a top effort to win here as well as finding the right trip; favorable trips have assisted him in the past. #2 GENERATOR could be challenged under today’s conditions, though he does present a move forward from the Dec. 31 race where he was not asked (NO_PUSH) to run.
#7 MAN IN THE CAN will return to make his second start of the meet, with a move forward with that race under his belt and the EX _ EXCUSE trip on Dec. 12. His issue began self-inflicted in the GATE; being restless in the stall caused him to break a step slow (SLOG) and from there had legit TROUBLE+ in running. All things considered he looked to need, and be given, the race by Moquett coming back off a slight break to start the season. He will stretch out to a route of ground and has the two-turn experience and form that is lacking with others in this field. Rosario will also pick up the mount and has been a live rider aboard Man in the Can here at Oaklawn Park, keying off a pair of wins during the 2020 meet.
Looking at the Plot, #4 K J’S NOBILITY stands out as a Large Square in the top half of Plot. The “Red” PlotFit is respected here and especially in the case of K J’s Nobility returning today from a 310-day layoff. The layoff can be a challenge on its own; though it can be more difficult to run back to a top effort as horses age, which is the case for this now eight-year-old gelding. The route distance could also be a factor as a distance that he has struggled with in the past and seems to prefer shorter. The same stamina concerns are in play for #2 SOUIXPER CHARGER looking to stretch his speed following a taxing (HARD) effort just two weeks ago.