July 21, 2024

Express Train, Fearless invade for eight-horse Oaklawn Handicap

Express Train wins the 2021 San Pasqual Stakes (photo by Benoit)

Oaklawn H. (G2) – Race 9 (5:49 p.m. ET)

Santa Anita H. (G1) runner-up Express Train and Gulfstream Park Mile S. (G2) winner Fearless head a field of eight older horses in Saturday’s $1 million Oaklawn H. (G2).

The 1 1/8-mile race serves as the co-feature with the $1 million Apple Blossom H. (G1) for females.

Express Train seeks to confirm himself as a major player in the handicap division. By Union Rags, the four-year-old colt opened 2021 with a convincing win in the San Pasqual S. (G2) at Santa Anita in late January, and Express Train missed by only a half-length second in the March 6 Big ‘Cap. Juan Hernandez retains the mount for John Sadler.

Fearless enters on the upswing for Todd Pletcher, returning from an eight-month layoff with a victory in the Feb. 27 Gulfstream Park Mile. That marked the first stakes win for the lightly-raced five-year-old Ghostzapper gelding, who has now won four-of-seven career starts, and Irad Ortiz Jr. will be in to ride.

Silver State is a top local contender for Steve Asmussen. By Hard Spun, the four-year-old colt was on the 2020 Kentucky Derby trail before being sidelined in late March, and Silver State has won four straight since returning to action last October, including narrow wins in the Fifth Season S. and Essex H. at Oaklawn. Ricardo Santana Jr. rides.

Asmussen will also send out Grade 2 winner Silver Prospector, who was last seen finishing second to subsequent Dubai World Cup (G1) victor Mystic Guide in the Feb. 27 Razorback H. (G3). David Cabrera picks up the mount.

Multiple Grade 3 scorer Owendale can’t be dismissed from consideration for Brad Cox. The five-year-old exits a head second in the March 20 New Orleans Classic S. (G2) at Fair Grounds, and Florent Geroux has the call. Essex runner-up Rated R Superstar is also part of the mix. Guest Suite and Warrior’s Charge, the respective one-two finishers in a March 25 allowance at Oaklawn, round out the field.