Emily Gullikson analyzes the Oaklawn Park April 8 card and provides her OptixEQ analysis.
The “Sun” Contention and 43 SpeedRate suggests an honest early pace, a pace that could create a vulnerable situation for the, #1 SEA OF HOPE, #4 MY BOY GUS and #5 TURN THE SWITCH all sharing Quad I and a preferred RunStyle. Those project to be shorter prices based on the morning line and likely the case on race day given their recent races and connections. The Standard Contention with those three above the Par Line, could set up for a tracking runner.
#6 HANDY based on OptixPLOT should find first run tracking behind that trio. His form cycle is also positive looking at the Past 3 Runlines and keying off the B OptixGRADE at this same claiming level back on Feb. 27. Less “obvious” here, and presenting value, #2 JACKS FIRE BALLS, one that holds the potential to improve making his second start off the layoff, of the meet and a reasonable 20-day quick return from the waive claim on March 19. He will also find a positive rider switch to Santana in this case, a rider that has been aboard in the past and was along for his maiden win last fall at Keeneland. That race from Oct. 16, 2020 is shown in the Past 3 Runlines and was followed up with a B OptixGRADE (winning grade for the level, similar to Handy) in November at Churchill Downs. Going back to the maiden win with Santana aboard, they were able to track closer to the pace, a Quad II type stalking trip, a position that could upgrade him from a pace perspective and from that the Quad IV presentation he is in today.
#4 SHES GOT IT presents logical here as a Quad I Square on the Plot, the only runner above the Par Line, and with OptixFIG from the Past 3 Runlines in today’s RANGE. While logical from that perspective, she has run twice at this condition, both races recording the B- OptixGRADE, a GRADE just shy of a “winning” B Grade for the level, and outside of ground loss (WIDE) no real excuses. That leaves her slightly exposed and while she might have just found the right group, one of the more lightly raced types could jump up in this spot.
#1 VIVA VIOLENCE will make her second career start with some changes and NOTES from her debut. She took money in that debut something that was enough to note given these connections and in the face of her Special Weight competition. Her race could have been lost in the GATE as she was very fractious and rearing up in the stall prior to the start. While it does not show on the running line, she was used for early position and from between horses before quickly retreating. She returns here posting a half-mile work since that March 5 debut and picks up the blinkers for this second start and given the action on debut the intent of showing more early speed and taking up a pacesetting role from the rail is possible. The drop in class could also help on that front, one of the biggest class moves in racing from Special Weight to maiden claiming. That class drop looks more appropriate for Viva Violence, in contrast to that class drop today for #11 WILD COMBO. There are some “red flags” with her drop as she has taken wagering support for top connections since the debut and has gone backwards with each start without any excuses along the way. The drop could certainly help in this case, off her races and visuals is tougher to support at what expects to be a short price here and likely second choice in the wagering.
#10 I’M STYLIN is a bit of stab here as she moves up in class and all around will need a big move forward to account for that class hike. That said, this is just her second start and ran sneaky well in her March 19 debut. She ran from off the pace, from off a slow pace up front, one set up front by rival #9 SUPER STEAMY. The two pacesetters controlled the race from gate-to-wire and finished together at the line. While Super Steamy benefit from the race shape, I’m Stylin was against the race flow (S/Slow O4S) and put in a CLOSE as the race pace picked up (F/Fast OfS) late. As I’m Stylin returns here to make her second start here she will race on Lasix for the first time; and between that equipment change along with experience those changes could be the boost she needs to move forward to compete at this level. #6 BEAUTY CONTEST finds a similar Plot position to I’m Stylin in Quad IV, and while she has a class and OptixFIG edge from her debut, the race shape benefit her closing into a fast pace (F/Fast O4S) which assisted her late run.
#8 LIVINGMYBESTLIFE comes into this race as a first time starter and in a spot where a well-prepared and placed first time starter can be a threat. Unable to get an eye on her works in the morning, the work tab is relatively consistent and would keep an eye on the board for clues this afternoon. Similar for #3 SHE’SSKYTHELIMIT the other first time starter, both as Diamonds up on the right-hand corner, that designation with the lack of data unable to place them on the Plot.
This race becomes playable with #1 JOSIE a soft/vulnerable morning line favorite. Looking at her Past 3 Runlines, her OptixFIG are below or with the Feb. 28 race with the 87 OptixFIG on the lower side of RANGE. That 87 was recorded with a PERFECT (Red Keywords) trip and with the course profile that afternoon. The race itself was a lower OptixFIGRANGE (OFR) of 88-82 and today marks a legit step up in class. She would have to improve off that 87 OptixFIG with that PERFECT trip to compete here and from that aspect does not deserve to be favored this afternoon.
Value sits with #7 FIRE CORAL returning to make her second start of the meet and with upside based on her races as a sophomore in 2020. In terms of recency, she ran a B- OptixGRADE at this N2X level and recorded a 90 OptixFIG while finishing in a blanket for place behind her stablemate winner. She has the back class from her races at the graded stakes level, company lines shared with Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner She’sdaresthedevil and champion Swiss Skydiver. Fire Coral also holds OptixFIG from last season to support progression as she makes her second start as a four-year-old, while benefitting from the added distance today as well. Asmussen will also be represented by #6 ALTA’S AWARD a logical type right back at this level from the B OptixGRADE and 91 OptixFIG at this N2X allowance level from the March 14 race. While logical, she has not shown much progression an area where Fire Coral still has upside and hidden back class over this seasoned stablemate.