CIRCLES AND SQUARES – OAKLAWN PARK 12-03-2021
RACE 8 – ADVENT STAKES:
The opening day stakes race at Oaklawn Park is for juvenile runners and that has to be considered when assessing pace, dealing with still lightly raced developing types. OptixPLOT positions horses based on their races to date and the shape (Circle, Square) in relationship to each other. Lightly raced horses could be flattered off favorable trips or “dirtied” up based on trouble or early two-year-old form, which goes into the Plot, and has to be addressed when handicapping the entirety (speed, pace, class, form) of the race. That makes OptixNOTES crucial at this stage of their racing career and will be used in the handicapping of today’s race.
The Plot today is a “Green” PlotFit, there is minimal change from Standard (current form) to Surface/Distance as all runners have sprint experience. The Plot also features the “Sun” Contention, shown visually with the bulk of the field in that congested spot, as well as the 30 SpeedRate with that majority below the Par Line. This scenario often requires finishing ability (Square) and tactical speed, especially as the “lone closer” #8 IMPULSUS sits below as a deep Quad IV Circle.
The bulk of the public attention could side with the outside runners #9 CAIRAMA and #10 HIGHER STANDARD based on the morning line and while capable look like underlays in that role. Both runners are shown in Quad I and likely to be forced into that role with today’s race shape and drawing outside. Both runners still have something to prove as Higher Standard caught an off-track with the debut win just 19-days ago and Cairama catching the track Bias breaking his maiden on debut at Belmont Park. While again capable, neither runner holds any edge today in terms of pace (Plot), speed (OptixFIG) or class (Grade) to suggest they are the horse to beat and willing to take a shorter price; value looks to fall elsewhere.
#6 B SUDD is tough to ignore on the Plot as the larger Quad I Square and one of the few tracking above the Par Line. He has improved with each race in terms of OptixGRADE and OptixFIG breaking his maiden with an 89 OptixFIG on October 31st. The horse B Sudd showed grit to beat, Unpredictable Bay, returned with an open length score on November 29th at Churchill Downs earning a 91 OptixFIG. B Sudd also debuted in a “key race” back on October 9th at Keeneland, a race that produced three other next out winners. That supports his ability to compete here on speed and class to complement that favorable OptixPLOT position.
#4 RUGGS should offer value in this race and capable to get overlooked off his debut figure and one he can also improve off of. He is capable to race with this field in terms of Pace as a Square in Quad III, a position that shows first call speed and the ability to finish. While the 74 OptixFIG sits below today’s RANGE, improvement can be projected off the visuals and class is supported earning a B+ OptixGRADE to suggest he can handle the step up in class. These are the type of horses that fit as “value” or “live longshots” as they seldomly “jump off the page” on traditional paper past performances.
Class will be a test for #1 CHARTER OAK and #2 KAVOD (and Circles #5 ORO AZTECA and #7 SONNYISNOTSOFUNNY) runners stepping up in class and coming off wins at the statebred or claiming level. Both Squares, Charter Oak and Kavod, with favorable trip wins (Red Keywords) which circles back to the opening paragraph of horses flattered on the Plot due to trips. #3 FORTY STRIPES will also be tested as he is required to improve off his current form to compete today. He has the Smoke Glacken Stakes place finish earning an 88 OptixFIG and B OptixGRADE to support on speed and class along with the Plot position as a center Square, though value will still be required to compensate for the current form.