#7 SEAU will race protected first off the claim as one of two runners in this field for trainer McKnight. The claim from Nov. 13 at Woodbine looked to be specific for this Oaklawn meet with Seau’s record on conventional dirt. It is encouraging that connections pick this spot and timing where Seau fits on speed (OptixFIG in RANGE), class (GRADE) and pace. He has tactical speed capable of tracking the E, E/P pair #6 PAST POST and #8 DR. FORMAN. These two runners are exiting front-running wins, but both present vulnerabilities wheeling back quickly and stepping up in class. McKnight will also send out #3 BACHELOR PAD, one that will also be stepping up in class exiting a solid season at Woodbine. He could be “over the top” coming into this race and is the shorter number of the two for this outfit.
Moquett will keep #4 CABOT protected running in this starter allowance after scratching from a restricted $10k claimer earlier this meet. That is an encouraging sign, and Cabot does hold races and form here that make him competitive. The shorter 5 1/2-furlong distance, however, is not the most ideal and is a slight downgrade from the Quad II Standard Square to the Circle on Surface/Distance. That has to be considered along with the layoff in terms of being disciplined with accepting only a fair number.
#5 NEWS BOX is deserving of a mention as he returns to this condition off a “better than looked/BTL” effort here on Dec. 4. He was one of the few to make up ground behind the pacesetting winner earning that third place result. His tendency of breaking slow (SLOG) is a liability in terms of pace and as shown on OptixPLOT deep in Quad IV today. The Sun Contention could assist his late run however the lower SpeedRate creates a bigger hurdle on the win end.
#1 SMART TIME will return to this starter allowance condition and finds a rider change today with Santana taking over. That change, along with the rail, could see a change in tactics looking for the lead right out of the gate. He does not hold a pace advantage based on his current form (Standard) and with speed figures (OptixFIG below RANGE to win) would have to come up with a top effort to compete today. #2 BEBOB SHOES finds himself in a similar position on the Plot to Smart Time. This looks like a “prep” for Deville and connections, who claimed him out of the Nov. 21 race at Churchill Downs. This allows for Bebop Shoes to get a race back at Oaklawn running protected while connections find a state-bred spot for him to compete.
#2 MARR TIME could hold the class edge in today’s juvenile allowance race. This will be just her second start and first against winners following a professional debut win on Oct. 28 at Keeneland. She has trained consistently since that race, and her recent drills at Oaklawn suggest some positive intent for Cox. She will be joined by stablemate #6 COMO SQUARE, a fitting name says OptixPLOT. She was also able to score on debut, though did so against a softer (WEAK) group on the closing day of the Indiana Grand meeting and will be required to improve off the 72 OptixFIG.
#8 TONE IT UP could be “dirtied” up on the Plot with “trips” in those first three starts. She has upside and should offer value in this race off that form and recorded figures as a lightly-raced improving type. Connections showed some confidence to debut in a stakes race at Arlington Park back in August before shipping to Churchill Downs to run for a $120k purse in just her second start. She was allowed to gain some confidence following the early ambitious placement at Hawthorne, earning a B+ OptixGRADE for that Special Weight maiden win, a grade that suggests she can handle the step up in class. She has kept up her conditioning since the maiden win in late October and showing intentions by Mason pointing to this meet.