The class drop should help #4 MARTIQUE MISS, the expected race favorite, as she makes that key change from special weight to maiden claiming for the first time this season. Based on her races this season she moves to a more competitive spot for her abilities and should have her best chance today to clear the level. That said, this is not her first time running at this $50k maiden claiming level, keying off this placement in her debut back in the fall of 2020 at Del Mar as well as her 2021 seasonal debut here at Oaklawn Park. In both starts, she failed to win or produce that B OptixGRADE also considered a “winning” type effort for the level. This could present an opportunity for value and for the more lightly-raced types to step forward with the public siding with Martique Miss as the one to beat.
#5 FARASINO fits that bill as she is lightly raced showing up to make her second career start. She will also find the key class change from special weight with that Feb. 13 race looking like a PREP for her first out. With the upside potential given the PREP and class change, Farasino can take the necessary step forward from her debut to compete in this event. Her 73 OptixFIG on debut fits on par with today’s 77-71 OptixFIGRANGE (OFR), the OptixFIG that typically wins this type of event, and still Farasino has the ability to improve off her first start.
The class drop is also in play for #6 LADY COMMANDER as she makes her first start in for the maiden claiming tag. While that class change overall is favorable, today’s distance still remains a concern as she returns to the route distance with the SPRINTER Keyword from the Feb. 21 race. #7 QUALITY CHROME finds a more subtle class change, one that could be seen as a lateral move with the 82-74 OFR from the Jan. 8 event. She has the steady string of B- OptixGRADES along with the STRETCH Keyword that could see her hold her form today making her route debut.
#1 AUTOSTRADA will also move up in class from the Jan. 28 maiden $20k event. Unlike the higher OFR noted on Quality Chrome from her $20k maiden claiming event, this is a slight step up in class for Autostrada returning from a 75-69 OFR to today’s 77-71 OFR. While that change is subtle, with Autostrada recording the average C+ OptixGRADE, she sits below some of her rivals and should lack value as the public is likely to gravitate to her based on the new connections alone – Asmussen and Rosario.
#8 I FEEL THE NEED was able to run that “winning” effort B OptixGRADE in her debut here earlier this season. The GRADE is an overall assessment of the effort for the level. Since this is a slight change in class, as she moves from the age-restricted three-year-old filly group to take on older here, this is not quite the apples-to-apples class change. As this is a step up in class, that has to be considered while still respecting her BTL effort and 76 OptixFIG first out. Fellow sophomores #2 TRUEBLUEGIRL and #3 MAKEMEBELIEVE will also require a move forward from their debut taking on older as well as their first start around two turns.
#5 MILANA could hold a pace advantage today according to OptixPLOT as Quad I Square. While she looks to hold that potential advantage, she could still be a liability looking at her recent OptixNOTES in the Past 3 Runlines with the NO_FINISH and NO_KEEP both when able to make an EASY_LEAD and LONE lead. #9 RATTRAPANTE should keep the pace honest and could fall into the right trip stalking as a Quad I Square behind Milana, sitting in that “catbird” seat looking for first run should she falter up front. Rattrapante is no “cinch” either as she has some knocks in her own right, carrying similar “Red” Keywords in her Past 3 Runlines.
#2 KEINO holds some upside from her form this season, keying off the BTL effort and place finish over this course and distance back on Dec. 31. Following that effort, she was stretched out in distance to the route on Jan. 30 with some excuses in her first two-turn attempt with the TACTIC- and WIDE trip. She was claimed out of that race for the $30k tag, and her new connections stepped her up on Feb. 27 to take on older fillies and mares for the first time. She did not have much of a chance to compete in that spot, with the class change and given no favors at the draw posted outside in the 11 hole. That challenge became greater to overcome with the slow start (SLOG) and WIDE trip that followed. There looks to be some positive intent as she wheels back in just one week with a rider change to race here using the apprentice rider and her age as a three-year-old to race very light. She also will drop in for the $10k tag, a move that likewise suggests intent with connections looking to use this drop and $25k purse to recover some of that claim investment from earlier this meet.
A longshot case can be made for #10 TEXAS LEXUS, a lightly-raced sophomore returning in just over two weeks for her second start of the meet and season for trainer Steve Hobby. Going back to her debut, she was GREEN first out and likely needed the racing experience and additional training. She carried some additional works into that Feb. 18 return race, though she was unable to get into the running after a rough start (SLOG, TROUBLE_S) while the eventual winner, a well-backed first time starter called Hartley for Phil D’Amato, was sent to the lead and won by open lengths recording a 90 OptixFIG for the effort.
Even with the “Green” PlotFit, the pace looks a bit “chaotic” from a visual standpoint. #3 JAY VEE BEE is capable to find the right trip with his stalking (PC) ability from Quad II, hovering above the Par Line, a favorable position for the “Snowflake” Contention and average 34 SpeedRate. His form (lacking “Red”), speed (OptixFIG in the OFR) and class also fits today’s conditions keying off the B OptixGRADE and BTL effort on Jan. 7 shown in the Past 3 Runlines.
A longshot case was made for #7 SUPER CHIANTI on Feb. 12 based on the distance change and some positive intent from the connections. Some of that intent could carry as Stewart will waste no time bringing her right back in three weeks, to the same allowance level and distance, with a rider change to Cabrera. Much like her slow start (SLOG) from back in November at Churchill Downs, Super Chianti broke slow last month though was RUSH-ed from the rail into the early pace. She moved into a solid opening quarter-mile before losing ground (NO_KEEP) and was not asked (NO_PUSH) for run after giving up position. She looks to have come out of that race well, as she worked five furlongs on Feb. 28. That suggests it was not a physical issue, something that can be the case with horses that have similar-looking running lines and finishing positions. Class-wise she does return to the same allowance condition; however, the OptixFIGRANGE (OFR) for today’s event is a lower 87-89 than the 94-86 OFR from last out. Her ability to move forward and compete is still a major projection, one that should and does expect to be compensated on the board for getting creative and taking a “stab.”