December 5, 2022

Oaklawn Park Circles & Squares Analysis for Feb. 27

OptixEQ Circles and Squares
OptixEQ Circles and Squares


#9 FAY DAN should offer value in this race coming off an EX – EXCUSE at a similar claiming level and conditions on Jan. 16. He was given a look with the class drop to move him forward into a competitive OptixFIGRANGE (OFR) race when making his second start of the meet, exiting a higher-level (97-91 OFR) starter allowance race on Dec. 18. Fay Dan will return with the blinkers back on as well as a rider change to Hiraldo. Those changes suggest positive intent by trainer Norm McKnight, especially given the TACTIC- was part of the TROUBLE and overall EXCUSE last out. The distance change is also in play in this spot, though could have positive intent as well, noting a scratch from a similar conditioned race ($30k N2L) at the six-furlong sprint distance (the fifth race on Feb. 11). The recent EXCUSE and lack of Surface/Distance data make him tougher to Plot, though will note his lone race around one turn was his maiden win (maiden claiming $30k) back on May 8 at Churchill Downs recording an 88 OptixFIG and shown in Quad I. Today’s Plot should be taken with the same lenience given the “Red” PlotFit.

#5 ERNIE BANKER ran in that fifth race on Feb. 11, sent off as the 7-2 second choice, and will look to improve off his TRAFFIC trip and C OptixGRADE to compete here. Broberg has been sent out live runners last week and could see that trend continue as something to monitor with the runners from this barn this week. Torres will pick up the mount and was aboard for one of those wins (and a close second) on Feb. 19. #1 LATIN CASINO spiced up the trifecta at 18-1 with his third-place run. He recorded a new career top with the 92 OptixFIG, and as a horse that has backed up off a top effort in the past, and returning in 16 days while likely a shorter price this afternoon, value has to be considered.

Rival #6 BIG BOSS BEN will wheel back for this race finishing second in a different claiming race, the second race on Feb. 11. The timing is noted given just 16 days rest coming back off a HARD effort. While he ran a competitive race with B OptixGRADE and 89 OptixFIG, this claiming event is a step up in OptixFIGRANGE from the 85-77 last out to today’s 92-84 along with the form cycle suggesting Big Boss Ben could step back.


#1 ROMANTIC COMEDY finds some key changes from her debut back on Jan. 30. The class change is significant moving from special weight to run here for the claiming tag. This move was in play for her, noting a scratch from Feb. 13 under similar conditions when she was stuck on the also-eligible list and unable to draw into the race. As far as her trip, the ride was less than ideal (TACTIC-) as she was held up after a slow start (SLOG) and resenting the handling and KICKBACK from start to finish. She returns for this second start with a rider change to Quinonez, the rider assigned the day of the scratch.

#4 MANDONA will also return from that common Jan. 30 special weight race with the drop to the maiden claiming level. This class change seems logical for the four-year-old making her second start, though she will have to improve as well and did not have nearly the same excuse as Romantic Comedy. #6 MAGGIE’S WILL could be given a slight excuse with the slow start (SLOG) in her debut, a tougher spot for a first-time starter not only going two turns but also facing top special weight older competition. She should find a more reasonable spot to race today.

A key rider change will also be in play for #11 KEINO following her trip and poor TACTIC- exiting a different race on Jan. 30 where she was claimed by Villafranco. In addition to the rider change, the connections will shift back to the sprint distance from that route where she ran competitively (B- OptixGRADE) earlier this meet with a move forward on OptixPLOT shown as a Quad II Square. That Surface/Distance upgrade gives her the Plot edge over rival #8 FASHIONABLY QUICK, these two fillies from the common race back on Dec. 5.

#9 MY CORALENA projects to be the race favorite coming right back from the Feb. 20 place finish, B OptixGRADE and 80 OptixFIG. She will be required to repeat that effort from last week as her other numbers are not far off the others, the more lightly-raced types, and form cycle can come into play with the quick turnaround off a new top. That race is playing a role in that Quad I Square that stands out in this group of again mostly lightly or unraced runners and designated “Red” PlotFit.