April 17, 2024

Oaklawn Park Circles & Squares Analysis for Feb. 26

OptixEQ Circles and Squares
OptixEQ Circles and Squares

RACE 5 – HONEYBEE STAKES (G3):

#3 SECRET OATH looks to continue her dominance in this sophomore filly division seeking out her first graded stakes win. Her speed (OptixFIG), class (B+ OptixGRADE) and current form (black/green Keywords) support her in this event as the favorite. In terms of pace, she has a favorable Run Style for today’s dynamic, the “Sun” Contention and 34 SpeedRate, tracking above the Par Line as a Large Square from Quad II.

#2 YUUGIRI presents as the controlling speed gaining some separation on the Standard Plot above the Par Line in Quad I. That Standard scenario could allow for a pace advantage should #1 OPTIONALITY and #5 FREE LIKE A GIRL take back to stalk and allow for Yuugiri to set a “lone” lead. The Surface/Distance scenario is slightly more contentious (Sun) and as a Circle, along with the main presence of Secret Oath, Yuugiri might lack the “finish” required to win. Should she inherit that Standard scenario, that pace advantage here would be key as she is giving up recency making her first start of the season. This will be her first start back from the three-month break since her place finish in the Golden Rod (G2) on Nov. 27 at Churchill Downs. As far as her place finish, showed class as the BOS/Best of the Speed in that place finish earning the B OptixGRADE, a competitive GRADE for the graded stakes level while recording an 89 OptixFIG, a number that fits today’s OptixFIGRANGE (OFR).

Rounding out the field, #4 ICE ORCHID will wheel right back from her maiden win just 15 days ago. She was able to track closer to the pace on Feb. 11, a softer early pace with the OptixSHAPE, the opening half-mile (O4S) the Slow (S) rating. She was unable find forward position in those first two starts with the Fast/F O4S in her Dec. 3 sprint debut or with the Average/A O4S in her Jan. 14 route debut. Today’s event with the “Sun” Contention and 34 SpeedRate present similar to the OptixSHAPE in those first two starts for Ice Orchid and are reflected in her Plot position (Quad II) today. #6 RED QUEEN is a major outsider in this race as she sits well below this race par and compared to the others in this field.

RACE 11 – REBEL STAKES (G2):

Like many races, the Rebel (G2) will start by assessing the favorite, #2 NEWGRANGE, taking on that role listed as 9-5 on the morning line. Newgrange figures as the horse to beat (or the one to try and beat) pairing up graded stakes wins in both the Sham (G3) and Southwest (G3) here last month. Looking at his Past 3 Runlines, his OptixFIG fit in the OptixFIGRANGE (OFR) however does show “Red” Keywords, a cause for pause when looking to poke holes in the favorite. He benefit from the PERFECT trip breaking his maiden on Nov. 28 at Del Mar, the race FLOW in the five horse field Sham (G3), and another PERFECT trip in the Southwest recording each win. The Extended OptixNOTES on Newgrange going back to the debut state “this is a horse that needs to be outside or in front of horses” a trip he was successful finding in the two graded stakes wins that followed. Looking at today’s OptixPLOT, he finds himself in a favorable position overall as a Quad I Square though with some nuance could still have to work a trip under today’s conditions.

The devil in the details for Newgrange puts him in an inside draw breaking from post 2 with #1 KAVOD, the Quad I Circle to his inside, and one projects based on the Plot to take up that front running role today. There is other pace in the race joined in Quad I by #6 STELLAR TAP and #7 BEN DIESEL, two runners that have been most effective on or near the lead drawn to their outside. #8 CHASING TIME also projects to take part in that first flight as he is shown lining up with Newgrange at the first call (furthest left) on both Standard and Surface/Distance. While Newgrange could hold the edge of that group, the trip suggested by OptixNOTES to sit outside or in front of horses should be contested today more than he has faced in the past and on that same “note” rating inside might not be the ideal trip for this individual and could be the hole in his game.

#6 BEN DIESEL has drawn the extremes from the outside post in both the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and again in the Smarty Jones before moving to the rail in the Southwest. The post position change could offer some upside in this spot and in terms of value, his Quad I Square is not much different than Newgrange given the compensation in odds. #7 STELLAR TAP has some graded stakes foundation from last season and capable to take a step forward for his second start off the layoff. While he did have some TROUBLE as the favorite in his Jan. 22 allowance return at the Fair Grounds, he will again be class tested here and one has to project a massive forward move for him to win today.

#9 BARBER ROAD figures to be that “logical alternative” with the public returning from the Southwest finishing second behind Newgrange. Barber Road ran a solid race given the ground loss (X_WIDE) making his MOVE, though was slightly flow aided by the OptixSHAPE with the Average opening half mile (A O4S) and Very Fast (VF O6S) with the race slowing (Very Slow/VS ofS) late. His overall class comes into play as well earning the B- OptixGRADE earned in both the Smarty Jones and Southwest (G3), grades that sit below the “B winning” race for the level.

#11 DASH ATTACK won the Smarty Jones earning the B OptixGRADE, however did so with a favorable ride (TACTIC+) assisting his trip and win. He was unable to find that favorable trip in the Southwest racing in TRAFFIC earning a C+ OptixGRADE requiring a move forward in this second graded stakes class test. Traffic should not be an issue as Dash Attack is drawn outside this afternoon, though finds the challenge once again working a trip, for a horse that seems to require (Red Keywords) those favorable conditions to run his race. It should also be noted with both Barber Road and Dash Attack above the Par Line and drawn more towards the outside, their Plot Position over the Par Line should contribute to today’s SpeedRate.

The interesting player in this race, #3 CAIRAMA, will return from a BTL effort in the Smarty Jones in early January. That race was his third start of the form cycle and also his first start around two turns, a good PREP for this horse. As shown in OptixNOTES he had to deal with TROUBLE and the race earning a B- OptixGRADE, similar to Barber Road, despite the sixth-place finish. Those factors for a lightly raced runner could even suggest a move forward that is not shown in his Plot position.

#5 TEXAS RED HOT will make his seasonal return in this race giving up recency to others in this field coming back today off a three month layoff. He made his most recent start in the Kentucky Jockey Club, a race that has turned out to be a productive event with multiple graded stakes winners coming out of that event picking up Derby points. The horses that have performed well finished in the top half of the Kentucky Jockey Club field, which did not include Texas Red Hot and the horses that finished along with him at the back of the pack (Guntown, Red Knobs and Ready Pursuit) have not run well and failed to hit the board in their following starts.

#10 ETHEREAL ROAD comes into this race as a lightly raced progressive type (improving OptixGRADES) though has a tough task with his Run Style (Quad IV) and his first start against winner at the graded stakes level. While there is ability present on this runner he will require not only the right pace and trip but also another move forward on OptixFIG with his numbers to date slightly below the OptixFIGRANGE. #4 UN OJO does have the graded stakes experience however, his OptixFIG sit well below today’s OFR and unlike the Large Square of Ethereal Road, Un Ojo sits as a Circle compromised on pace.