July 16, 2024

Oaklawn Park Circles & Squares Analysis for April 3

OptixEQ Circles and Squares
OptixEQ Circles and Squares


The “Fire” Contention with five of the eight in this field could set up a trip for #5 ALEX’S STRIKE. In terms of class (OptixGRADE) and speed (OptixFIG), Alex’s Strike stacks up on par for this race. He has some upside as well, keying off the BTL (better than looked) Keyword Jan. 29 and the ability to IMPROVE off that race. He did so in terms of his OptixFIG last month; however, the issues at the start (SLOG, TROUBLE_S) left him compromised and with too much to do late.

Alex’s Strike was claimed out of that March 4 race by Rene Amescua and off Robertino Diodoro and Heads Up Racing. Those former connections will be represented here by #3 DR. FORMAN, another runner with a contender, looks on the Plot. While he is positioned as part of that Surface/Distance Quad I “Fire” Contention, the lower SpeedRate is also in play, which can still favor horses with tactical speed and finishing ability. The Surface/Distance Plot position gives Dr. Forman an edge over the others, including a slight edge over stablemate #8 HONORARY DEGREE. From a playing standpoint, price should come into the equation looking to separate that pair.  


#4 DIXIE PENNY has some upside returning for trainer Kenny Smith to make her fourth start in this meet. She won her maiden here Dec. 4 and looked to need her first start against winners back on Jan. 23; she also could have been rushed for her Feb. 11 race, just 19 days later. She has been given added recovery and time, noting a scratch from similar conditions and with jockey David Cabrera named back on March 6.  Her Standard Plot position as a Quad I Square could hold a pace advantage with the lower SpeedRate and horses below the Par Line. That could allow for Dixie Penny to get out in front and have the jump on the other “Squares” #2 LITTLE BIRD FLASH, #3 AIDANIKE, and #5 DARLING JOANNA.


#5 JAY VEE BEE is arguably overdue for a win this meet and will look to find his way to the winners’ circle wheeling right back for this race. Florent Geroux will look to improve off the recent rides (TACTIC-) going back to March 6, where Jay Vee Bee was kept too far off the pace, and overcompensation with the RUSH to push the pace on March 18. The Plot does not necessarily set up ideally and at the same time is capable of finding his trip with the above average 43 SpeedRate. His current form in the Past 3 Runlines creates a slight edge over the others in the field, those with recency here at Oaklawn Park with the “Red” Keywords.

Jay Vee Bee holds an OptixGRADE and OptixFIG advantage over #2 FRA MAURO, one that sits below today’s OptixFIGRANGE based on his Past 3 Runlines. Fra Mauro has run OptixFIG in RANGE going back further in his race career and even to races here at Oaklawn Park. That said, he has struggled to win at this starter allowance condition here in the past, though he has been able to find a minor share. He is eligible for a minor award once again today and given a slight upgrade on the Plot to assist in a trip.


This is a race worth getting creative in and perhaps finding both #1 MRS. BEANS and #2 DINNER AT CRUMPIES against today’s race dynamic. Mrs. Beans holds a speed (OptixFIG) edge and has already won at this condition Feb. 25. He will race here for a tag and finds a distance change from those recent sprint races to run at this route distance. Pace pressure should be there; he projects to be forwardly placed from the rail with Dinner at Crumpies drawn just to his outside. Both horses are shown in Quad I with the “Fire” Contention and higher 100 SpeedRate, a scenario that could make them pace vulnerable.

The “Fire” Contention and higher SpeedRate upgrades #3 C.C. HARBOR, #5 BIG SUCCESS and even #10 SMOKIN BOOTS, all shown as Quad IV Squares. Also worth an upgrade is #6 TOPF ROAD RULES based on the OptixNOTES and IMPROVE Projection from the March 20 race. Trip and rider tactics will be key for Topf Road Rules’s jockey Ricardo Santana as he will have to work a trip and avoid getting caught up as part of that projected hot early pace.


The pace of this race could present an advantage for #2 LAST SAMURAI to pull off a slight upset over the Diodoro pair, #1 LONE ROCK and #5 GOALIE. The pace is always tougher to assess with these longer distance, marathon-type races and shown accordingly on Surface/Distance with the horses lining up on the x-axis. The Contention for that first flight which includes Lone Rock and #4 STRONG TIDE, could create the dynamic for Last Samurai to put in this late run.

In addition to that potential pace advantage, Last Samurai fits on OptixFIG and class (B+ OptixGRADE) keying off the Poinsettia Stakes back in December. That race was run at a shorter distance, though still on class is the same $150k purse as today’s stakes race. As far as the change in distance, Last Samurai is proven over this 12-furlong route of ground, finishing second and earning a B OptixGRADE in the Greenwood Cup (G3) at Parx last summer.