by Emily Gullikson/ @EmilyOptixEQ
OAKLAWN PARK – February 2, 2020
RACE 8: An allowance sprint event for 3-year-old runners comes up competitive and features some lightly raced types that could have their intentions set on some of the graded stakes events later this season.
#1 TICK TACK MO‘s inside draw can be tricky and it does help he not only has experience from the rail but also natural early speed. Even in his debut, he broke on top before the rider decided to take back and ultimately finished one of four across the wire. He was allowed to use his gate and early speed in that second start and likely to be the plan here. Speed figure wise he is on the “slower” side in this field, but keep in mind both his starts came last summer and has had time to develop and mature, a factor that can often see the improvement in speed figures.
#2 ANCIENT WARRIOR will make his second career start this afternoon following massive front-end effort in his Del Mar debut. With that said, not entirely thrilled with that race as the horses he ran against are all still maidens. Garcia aboard has been aggressive with his rides this meet especially with those “E” type runners suggesting that he will not get cute here.
#3 LITTLE MENACE is positioned on OptixPLOT (shown below) as a Square in Quad I, so he figures to get a favorable trip as well as a fit on speed figures coming off the strong maiden win back at Churchill Downs. The Plot position shows he has the tactical speed to find position out of the gate and drawn inside two “E” runners can track just off that pair.
#4 CROCKETT’S BLUFF overall might need this start coming back off the 80-day layoff. He does not have a lot of early speed and as shown on OptixPLOT in Quad IV could be quite far back at the opening quarter to half-mile. That said there is some upside here, though this could still be a kicking off point for him this season.
#5 AMERICAN BUTTERFLY‘s form is overall tough to get too excited about, though at a price has a chance here. He is positioned well on OptixPLOT high up on the y-axis in Quad II. Speed figures can be hit or miss for him; however, on his best day can compete and seems those numbers come over fast one-turn races.
#6 DIFFERENT DAYS is first off the claim, and the barn change to McKnight could find him some attention. However, he is far on the slower side (and even class) coming into this race. Massive improvement would be needed here.
#7 LONG WEEKEND will make his 2020 debut this afternoon for the very live Tom Amoss barn starting out the meet quite strong. That certainly does help his chances, though he has to improve off his two starts last summer. As mentioned on the earlier analysis that improvement with maturity is possible, but trip has to be considered here as well. He showed early speed in both starts and would expect similar here. Drawn outside other speed that could signal a wide trip in an honest, contested pace.
#8 NAUGHTY ALFRED‘s current form at this allowance class level (C OptixGRADE) leaves a lot to be desired. He will see an equipment change here and perhaps a try to get back to the lead (another wide possibility) similar to his debut maiden claiming win.
#9 CREEKMORE: It has been a slow start for Moquett runners and many from this barn seem to be needing a race coming back at Oaklawn. He could follow that same pattern, and for this race is a bit below his main rivals.
#10 SCORING has that “longshot” look to him making his second start of the season this afternoon. Following SA for OptixNOTES, O’Neill had been a bit cold to start the current meet and in play when bringing this one back to make his return last month in the Sham (G3). Not often the case to see a horse “prep” in a graded stakes race, though with the smaller field size it was worth a try, and something these connections have been known to do. With that start behind him he should benefit from the race and capable to move forward here.
#11 BENNY CHANG‘s class and speed figures are well below par, so would need a massive move forward and almost become a different horse to compete here.
#12 MARVIN: Tough to ignore that bright neon-green Square on OptixPLOT. The square (representing his ability to finish) indicates he should be running on late and could be aided by the Contention in Quad I. Overall his two races to date are tough to knock and give him a look as well his improving with each race. Robertson has been off to a good start this meet and already with a win from a Hawthorne shipper.