January 24, 2022

Inside Straight delivers Oaklawn Handicap upset

Inside Straight, whose only prior stakes win was in Manitoba, was an upset winner of the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) (Coady Photography)

Inside Straight was overlooked at 19-1 but easily proved best in the $750,000 Oaklawn H. (G2), rallying to overhaul 1-2 favorite Midnight Storm in midstretch and drawing off to a two-length decision. A reformed claimer, the 4-year-old gelding notched his first graded victory in the 1 1/8-mile feature on the Arkansas Derby (G1) undercard.

Domain’s Rap closed belatedly for runner-up honors at 13-1 odds, a neck better than Grade 1 winner Midnight Storm, who was exiting a good second to Shaman Ghost in the March 11 Santa Anita H. (G1).

Inside Straight is owned by Randy Howg. Conditioned by Robertino Diodoro and ridden by Geovanni Franco, the New York-bred son of Super Saver recorded only previous stakes victory came in the 2016 Manitoba Derby at Assiniboia Downs last August.

He was facing a class hike Saturday but Inside Straight did bring improving form into the race. He opened 2017 with a third to Domain’s Rap in the January 13 Fifth Season and came back three weeks later to finish second to the same rival in an allowance/optional claiming event. Inside Straight was exiting a five-length romp over allowance/optional claiming foes at Oaklawn on March 10.

The bay returned a $41.40 win mutuel ($2) as the fifth choice among seven rivals. He stalked in third as Midnight Storm established early splits in :22.96, :46.49 and 1:10.60. Inside Straight was forced to wait briefly in traffic on the far turn before offering his best stride into the stretch, and he went on to complete 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.40.