July 25, 2024

Oaklawn Park Circles & Squares Analysis for March 17

OptixEQ Circles and Squares
OptixEQ Circles and Squares


Visually #7 MACHO ROCCO looks to hold a pace advantage in today’s opening event. He is shown clear at the first call (furthest left) and has second call speed as just one of the two runners in the field positioned above the Par Line. That other runner #1 IMA BLING CAT is positioned behind Macho Rocco at the first call and could be tougher for Ima Bling Cat to chase and run down Macho Rocco with both runners as Circles.

The Large Circle for Macho Rocco does represent the lack of finish, something he could still overcome gaining that first and second call separation on his rivals to hold late. In addition to that Circle, he could present more finishing ability keying off his 2021 season, each of those three starts up close to Fast (F) or Very Fast (VF) opening half-mile (O4S) race shapes. He ran OptixFIG and GRADES in RANGE to compete here. Form cycle could also present a move forward as this will be his second start of the season. He returned on January 2nd, his first race back off a 280-day break and in a tougher condition protected in that allowance race. That January event has been productive with four next out winners and one other finishing second In a win photo. Positive intent also comes into play returning in this claiming event by Mason. Both times Macho Rocco has run here at Oaklawn Park for the claiming tag he has won, both front end wins – his maiden win in 2020 and his 2021 debut Feb 4.

#6 CAPTAIN DON as the Quad I Square will look to capitalize should the lack of finish (Circle) come into play with Macho Rocco, taking the first run. He has some upside as far as his current form cycle and value should be there finishing well off the board in his two most recent starts. Beyond the running lines and finishing positions, show a horse that has improved with each start this season and likely sitting on a top effort today. He made his seasonal debut in the first part of the meet taking on open company, a race that could easily be seen as a prep for the statebred level. He moved into the statebred condition for 2022, though overmatched at the higher Optional Claiming level. He has that hidden move forward potential as well as back class (OptixGRADE) and speed (OptixFIG) from the previous seasons returning to those efforts make him a major contender. The rider change is also noted suggesting positive intent with Cabrera taking over, a rider that was responsible for the barn’s first win here this season.

A lot of attention should land with #4 J. E.’s HANDMEDOWN and #8 FIVE O ONE older horses with established form and look to standout on numbers. Both runners are older types and will make the class change to run for the claiming tag. That change could assist this pair, however assessing them as win contenders, both horses have struggled to win here in the last two seasons and the current figures along with the class drop should have the two runners finding the bulk of public support.

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The distance of this race at the mile and a half, the twelve furlong marathon route, creates some chaotic elements to get creative at a price. #6 SPHEROID holds a positive form cycle coming into this race in his second start off the layoff. This pattern has allowed this horse to improve in the past, especially when returning within less than 30 days. He has upside exiting the March 6 event just 11 days ago where he was shuffled back soon after the start (TROUBLE_S) and according to the OptixNOTES extended comment (xN) Spheroid showed run in spots without being set down for his best and continued to run on after the wire. Those visuals support the move forward today and are consistent with his prior improved second-off, quick turnaround finishes in the past.

#7 HUNT THE FRONT is a frustrating type as a poor gate horse, one that is well-documented with slow starts (SLOG) in every race going all the way back to his debut. As he has that pattern of giving his rivals a head start, value is required as trip, pace and a strong ride are necessary to overcome the early ground loss. With that said and likely to be the case, he is an individual he has consistently run some of the faster races, his OptixFIG sit above RANGE/OFR and has shown Class/OptixGRADES competitive for this higher allowance condition. Many of his faster, more competitive races have been run here at Oaklawn Park going back to 2020 in his maiden special weight season. He has upside wheeling back for today’s race coming out of a higher level mile allowance event last month and showing run, making a move against the dynamic (X_FLOW) in his first start back off the 106-day layoff. While this will be his first start at this distance, a hurdle for all in this field and another reason to be hesitant with others at a short price, Hunt the Front has not shown distance limitations and could have positive intent with this placement for the second start of the meet. 

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