The Plot visuals supported by the “Sun” Contention and 46 SpeedRate suggest a race dynamic to set up horses from off the pace. That visual on Standard shows five of the eleven horses above the par line, a factor in the SpeedRate, along with eight total to the left of the y-axis for Contention.
One of those early pace horses, #10 V.I.P. WHO, is listed as the 3-1 morning line favorite and likely to take up that “chalk” role nearing post time. As an individual, he fits in that role with OptixFIG in RANGE, a proven winning record at a similar claiming level as well as the Plot position even under the circumstance could still win. As far as form goes this will be his first start back in 77 days. There does seem to be a reason for that layoff looking at the OptixNOTES from back on October 23 (OUCHY, OTHER), a visual that did not come into play in running – he had a favorable, perfect type trip, but after the race on the way back to the winners’ circle, his legs buckled and stumbled in a way to suggest he might need added recovery time. The layoff as well as the pace scenario must be considered not as a horse that is necessarily “vulnerable”, but he could lack value with those noted factors in play.
#6 EAGLE PASS is also shown above the Par Line and has a dramatic change from Standard to Surface/Distance as he makes his second start of the form cycle and returns to a route of ground. A trip where he is positioned as a Quad II Square is upgraded and would allow for first run on the closers, though he could be compromised at this distance and dynamic if sent to the lead. Some positive intent could be in play as this is the second start off the layoff, off the claim, along with the change in distance and reasonable class drop. The number on the board should decide play in this case. His stablemate #1 ZITMAN will wheel right back off the Perfect trip win just one week ago, claimed out of that race by trainer Karl Broberg. He could find a similar favorable trip stalking inside with the Contention/SpeedRate, though it would likely require a faster effort necessary for him to improve from the 83 OptixFIG posted last out.
Getting into the Quad IV Runners; #4 TIZ SHOWBIZ could find attention in this race coming back in a week from a place finish on December 31, where he was claimed by Robertino Diodoro. He makes his first start for that barn in here. Tiz Showbiz has been holding his form with the string of B- OptixGRADE, though those Grades represent an effort just shy of the “winning” B OptixGRADE usually required. He is also light in terms of OptixFIG with the numbers in his current form cycle below RANGE for this race. All around value must be demanded on this type of runner and with caution it might not be there today.
#7 PEPPER PIKE is preferred of the Large Quad IV Squares. This will be his second start of the meet coming back with a subtle class drop (change in OFR) where his fourth-place finish was more competitive than it could appear on paper, keying off the OptixNOTES from that December 4 race while earning a B- OptixGRADE and 84 OptixFIG.
#2 ARRIVAL is not one that has any advantages in terms of today’s race shape (Quad I/III Circle) though he does produce some of his better races and form here at Oaklawn Park and he could be one that sticks around for a minor share. Claimed by trainer Jason Barkley out of a Churchill Downs race September 24, he had his first start from his new barn at this meet December 4. The front wraps were added that day and a removal this afternoon should be monitored.
The “Yellow” PlotFit does not necessarily flatter a particular RunStyle in this starter allowance though form and the ability to finish (Square) is likely to be required to win. The handicapping angle here takes a contrarian, even simplified old-school approach, the process of elimination, using the OptixEQ tools. This start by assessing recency utilizing the Past 3 Runlines where many runners in this field present “Red” Grades or Keywords. Drawing a line through those horses, there are two exceptions #4 RYE HUMOR and #11 CARL G. Both horses have OptixFIG competitive with the others in this field and fit with the race shape as Squares and based on the morning line present value in this field.
RACE 8 – PIPPIN STAKES:
#1 COACH could be vulnerable in the favorite role for this race and projects to take up that role as well as one that will be heavily used in the horizontals, the multi-race sequences. Coach fits the condition of this stakes race; however, she does not hold any strong advantage over others in this field to justify her as the heavy favorite.
#2 BREEZE RIDER could have a pace advantage up front as she could find mild Contention based on her Plot position at the first call, the furthest left. She will be tracked by #6 MISS BIGLY and a fitting name for the Large Square stalking in Quad I. Miss Bigly fits in this race as a logical (and even value with Coach vulnerable) contender as her current OptixFIG and class (GRADES) stack up in RANGE. She finds reasonable class relief exiting the graded stakes races in California, just shy of the “winning” type effort at that level recording consistent B- OptixGRADES.
The value on Miss Bigly could extend further if #5 JOSIE is the second choice on the board and in will-pays. Not only does Miss Bigly looks to have the pace advantage over Josie according to OptixPLOT with the able to stalk and take first run, but Josie will also be tested to transfer her form back to Oaklawn Park where her previous recorded OptixFIG here in Hot Springs sit below RANGE for this level.