Whether the also-eligible runners draw into this race (update: note they did not) changes the race complexion and lead to a potential pace advantage for #14 MACHO ROCCO here for Ingrid Mason on the drop in class. Still some value in the field with #8 THE DEVIL’S DADDY coming back after a near excuse in his most recent start. The February 23 race came on a one-week turnaround from his previous start on February 16 when running a competitive race (B- OptixGRADE) at this $16k maiden claiming level. As shown in OptixNOTES he not only broke slow (SLOG) but took some contact at the start (TROUBLE_S) forced back early and to chase WIDE thereafter. The race shape gave him little chance to compete from off the pace chasing behind a S/Slow opening half-mile where the top three finishers ran 1-2-3 around the track. He should be in a position to rebound here and Plots well as a Large Square tracking from Quad II.
A very competitive full field of runners to contest this restricted claiming event. While many are capable in here, a bit of a look to a value-type horse, #1 GOOSE DRANK WINE, and one that was mentioned here from earlier in this meet. He was given a look on opening day; however, he ran off in the warmup and forced to scratch. He came back last month in another competitive race for the level finishing a solid fourth, a result noted as a blanket finish for place behind the race winner. In that race he showed early speed pressing the pace from the inside, a trip that might not be his ideal run style, though likely to benefit from that outing. He has spent most of his career in route races and even in the limited sprint starts tends to run in more of a tracking off-the-pace running style. With that in mind here, he can be upgraded from the most recent start given trip and dynamics; and as shown on the StandardPLOT high up on the y-axis as a Square splitting Quad I/II is in a favorable position in terms of trip this afternoon.
#2 ALEX’S STRIKE poses an alternative to the two favorites coming back to this level off the BTL “better than looked” effort back on March 7. Heading into that race, he had upside making his third start of the meet that afternoon. His first start here at Oaklawn Park came opening day, and the case can be made he should have been scratched that afternoon as he became very fractious in the GATE rearing up and getting his legs tangled over the stall door prior to the start — as a result he was given the EX – Excuse as the OptixGRADE for that race. With some upside going forward he had a more subtle “excuse” next out in the February 13 race running in a route (not ideal distance) as well as at the starter allowance condition. He was able to find some confidence that afternoon and could have been the trainer intent following the events in January. Capable to rebound last month returning to a sprint and this very N2L level, he did just that and looks poised to compete here once again.
The pace scenario for the Sunday finale could present an opportunity to find an alternative to the morning-line favorite #11 STRIKE THAT. Overall, he fits in this race based on his form this season and consistent OptixFIG in Range based on the “Past 3 Runlines,” though trip could get him beat.
Asmussen will start a pair in this race starting with #6 BANO SOLO shown out in front in Quad I. Capable to make the lead in this event, and perhaps even some upside as he makes his second start of the meet and off the layoff. Finishing ability is questionable (Circle), though if upside from the recent race and the ability to get clear on the lead, he could go gate-to-wire. Stablemate #8 CABOT, also capable in here, finds a similar Surface/Distance Plot position and shape to STRIKE THAT, presenting value on that front based on his 15-1 morning line and proven record here at Oaklawn Park.
#12 MR. ANKENY also worth a mention based on his Plot position as well as from his most recent start. He was making his first start back after 245 days on February 29 and unable to run his race that afternoon. Typically, he is one that shows speed, and looked to be the pacesetter in that race, however broke slow (SLOG) from the rail and taken out of his game. To his credit he showed some try moving through traffic improving his position late.