Emily Gullikson takes a look at the Oaklawn Park Jan. 24 card and provides her OptixEQ analysis for Races 7 and 8.
This allowance event projects to be the most anticipated on the card with the presence of #8 HIDDEN SCROLL in the field. He has created some buzz for himself with a smashing debut (B+ OptixGRADE and 99 OptixFIG) and a series of trips along with antics at the gate since. He made his 2020 return in a strong manner last March at Gulfstream Park, a similar effort to the debut run (B+ OptixGRADE and 102 OptixFIG) and a race that looked to set him up for a solid 2020 campaign. That did not come to fruition faltering here at Oaklawn Park without much excuse in the Count Fleet Sprint H. (G3) last April. A surface switch to the turf followed for his June return at Belmont. That race was over before it started stumbling out of the gate and losing rider John Velazquez. A big step up in class was made returning just 17-days later for the Jaipur (G1) sprinting on the turf. He showed solid gate speed and was quickly challenged into a duel before faltering. While disappointing and the subject of critique, he was slightly upgraded in terms of race flow as part of that strong early pace, and assisting the winner, a solid graded stakes mare Oleksandra, to come closing from off the pace. It is tough to give him much of an excuse on Aug. 1 at Saratoga, lacking a finish after setting a moderate pace lone on the lead. Distance limitations and perhaps running on the deeper part of the turf played a role as well as the layoff that followed. Since that race over the summer, he has been transferred to Brad Cox and will return this afternoon back to a sprint distance on the main track. He has the history that can make him tough to trust, though also tough to deny his ability to compete this afternoon as a contender.
Looking at OptixPLOT, Hidden Scroll should have a pace advantage clear in Quad I with separation on the others in the field. One can make the case that his better efforts were recorded first off the layoff in terms of a form cycle and has the class (GRADES) and speed (OptixFIG) on par for this allowance event. From those logical aspects, he is the horse to beat even if his biggest challenge is himself.
#5 AMERICAN BUTTERFLY is also deserving of a look this afternoon. He Plots well behind Hidden Scroll as the other Quad I Square and also holds solid sprint form, class, and OptixFIG in Range. He holds upside returning both to the main track and sprint distance when compromised from every angle running a route on the turf to close out his 2020 racing season in the American Turf (G2) event at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby (G1) undercard.
This allowance race set up early in the meet will be used to springboard the 3-year-old fillies into the stakes season and an important race to follow from that perspective.
#4 ABROGATE will land here to make her second career start following a solid debut win at Churchill Downs on Nov. 12. She was well-intended that afternoon taking the public wagering support off the 5-1 morning line and obliging as the favorite. She showed enough speed to make the lead and kept that advantage throughout. She looks to find a similar trip this afternoon with the strong placement as a Square in Quad I. That said, she does expect to see pace Contention (Sun) with the presence of #2 MELTING SNOW, #3 INJECT and #6 SOUTHERN GRACE in the field. Abrogate could be tested from that pace perspective, though still sits a contender holding an edge over those rivals coming into this race.
Inject is worth a mention given the barn change as well as an experience edge this afternoon. She will return with a freshening (57-day break) following a solid place (B OptixGRADE) finish in the Nov. 28 allowance at Churchill Downs behind recent Silverbulletday S. winner Charlie’s Penny. Inject has been able to pair up OptixFIG in RANGE to compete this afternoon and could have more to offer, a bit of an upgrade to her presentation as a Large Circle on OptixPLOT. #7 EKATI’S HIT projects to track that first flight of Quad I runners and has some ability in her own right following her races at Remington Park. She presents more as a sprinter/one-turn type, and while distance looks proper this afternoon, she will be tested for class. A move forward will be required this afternoon as her OptixFIG current sit below RANGE. Similar concerns here for #1 MY BOSS LADY in terms of speed figures and lacking much edge this afternoon as a Quad IV Circle. #5 ABSOLUTE ANNA was able to benefit from the race flow breaking her maiden in a blanket finish back on Dec. 5 at Los Alamitos. Absolute Anna will be out to prove that debut was not a fluke setup win, though should not since that maiden event in California has been productive with two next-out winners and the place finisher improved her speed figures while finishing third in her next start by a full 12 OptixFIG points.