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Oaklawn Park hosts Preakness Winner Swiss Skydiver and 2x Champion Female of the Year Monomoy Girl in the $1,000,000 Apple Blossom Handicap this Saturday 4/17.
Although the Derby Preps are behind us, Oaklawn Park has put together a steady card of racing this Saturday that includes two races with million-dollar prize pools. This week we will not only highlight those races, but two others that fall after these major stakes. I’ll be playing a late Pick 4 wager, which is where you pick the winner of four consecutive races prior to the time the first race starts. I’ll also be playing some horses to win where we can find some value.
Race 9: Oaklawn Handicap. $1,000,000 for thoroughbreds four years old and up. 1 1/8 miles on the main dirt track. 4:49 P.M. (ET).
A competitive field of eight thoroughbreds kicks off the late pick 4 with no absolute standout from the group. Silver State (1) won the local prep for this race while stalking the pace, and his connections (Santana/Asmussen) upset the heavy Arkansas Derby favorite just last Saturday in the biggest race at Oaklawn. His running style seems to suit, and his wins at the distance today are faster than any other in this field. Express Train (2) is shipping in from Santa Anita and should be happy not to see some of his more recent superior competition (Charlatan, Maxfield). Look for JJ Hernandez to take this horse to the lead early if he can get it or sit right off the leader’s hip going into the final turn. Owendale (6) will also be hard to leave off a ticket. I know he hasn’t won since May of 2020, however he finished 2nd in his last by only a head and should fire well the third race off his winter layoff.
.50 cent Pick 4: 1,2,6 with 4,5 with 2,3,6 with 1,4 = $18
Win: Silver State (1)
Race 10: Allowance Optional Claiming. $108,000 for thoroughbreds four-year olds and up. 6 furlongs on the main dirt track. 5:29 P.M. (ET)
I can’t believe what I’m about to write, but a little horse from what some would call a second-rate track Remington Park is the favorite and may be one of only two with a real shot of winning this race! David Cabrera follows Welder (4) to Oaklawn, and this horse just wins. His last loss was July 5th of 2020. Maybe the fireworks at the track the night before made him finish 2nd that day? The other horse with a realistic chance is Seven Nation Army (5). Although he was unplaced in his last at Oaklawn Park, he fumbled his way out of the gate and had too much ground to cover on a track that was playing very fast that day. Plus, he gets Irad Ortiz to pick up the mount, who, let’s be honest, may be the best jockey riding right now in America.
4,5 Exacta Box
Race 11: Apple Blossom Handicap. $1,000,000 for fillies and mares four-year olds and up. 1 and 1/16 miles on the main dirt track. 6:09 P.M. (ET).
Have some popcorn ready for this one. Horse racing fans don’t usually get a race like this in April. Swiss Skydiver (2), who won the Preakness Stakes last year defeating Authentic, Male Horse of the Year, faces her toughest test to date as she sets her eyes on the immortal Monomoy Girl (6) for only the second time in her career. The first time these champs met at the Breeder’s Cup last fall, Swiss went down to her knees at the start and was never a threat to Monomoy Girl, who won with ease. Monomoy Girl, on the other hand, hasn’t missed a winner’s circle since… 2017! How do you beat such a horse? Well on this day, the only way Monomoy Girl loses is if Letruska (3) plays the role of the sprinting bunny to tire Monomoy Girl out on the front end. Who bets against perfection? I do.
Win: Swiss Skydiver (2)
Race 12: Starter Allowance. $30,000 for thoroughbreds, fillies, and mares four years old and up. 6 furlongs on the main dirt track. 6:40 P.M. (ET).
As with most tracks on a big day, Oaklawn ends their card with a race that is stunningly average and not easily predictable. I will not be straying from the two post time favorites, however. Pick up the Fone (1) has been nothing but consistent this year and has the early speed to run away with this race on the rail. Ragatagtag (4) will be stalking the early pace set by Pick up the Fone and could pass him in the final strides.
Win: Pick up the Fone (1)