April 23, 2024

OptixEQ handicaps Oaklawn Park’s March 21 Gazebo Stakes

Oaklawn Park Racing
Oaklawn Park Racing (Vance Hanson photo)


Taking a look at OptixPLOT, the pace scenario looks to play a major role in the outcome – one of those interesting combinations of a “FireContention level paired with a lower SpeedRate. This combination shows while there are a number of horses that are capable of racing forwardly placed (five of the eight runners listed as E/EP types) the pace/SpeedRate does not necessarily set up for a meltdown type scenario.

A lot of interest could fall with #4 LONG WEEKEND based on his dominant effort last month at Sam Houston and speed figure that came along with that effort. He was ridden out of the gate (HARD_LEAD) and LONE throughout under a ride kept to task every step of the way. That is noted as he will likely be ridden for the lead here and to find some pressure as shown on the PLOT from #7 FLY TO THE BANK. While LONG WEEKEND is the preferred of that pair, he will have to show he can run as well with pressure as he can when allowed to run free on the lead.

While LONG WEEKEND and FLY TO THE BANK are more confirmed in terms of their running style in this event, things become a bit fuzzier with #1 NO SHIRT NO SHOES and #2 NUCKY as both are capable to race in that Quad I position based on their respected Plots (and both are cross-entered to Sunday’s 8TH race).

NO SHIRT NO SHOES, not quick enough to that first call (left side of the Plot) as his two rivals, is likely to assume a tracking spot from the rail similar to his maiden win back on January 25. He fell into a trip that afternoon and would need similar here as a Circle. The big Circle of NUCKY has some concerns overall, and with the layoff and return to a sprint, would expect connections to be looking for a trip more in line with his Surface/Distance Plot position. The recent form, in addition to Shape, is a bit concerning and he has a lot to prove at this point to get back to some of his juvenile efforts; and even running back to those races would make him a fringe contender here.

#5 LITTLE MENACE looked strong coming into the race back on February 8 and ran to it in a very competitive allowance sprint event. He was properly prepared by Asmussen coming back off the break to face winners and expertly handled by Santana that day. He showed a lot of class asked to rate and finish – a trip based on his Quad I Square Plot position he can find once again. A legit contender.

#6 MARVIN (cross-entered to Sunday’s 8TH) is another with some trip options based on the changes from Standard to Surface/Distance here. To his advantage both positions are favorable and making him a contender here as well. He is tough to knock overall as he has run B/B+ OptixGRADES in each of his four starts with OptixFIG this season that fit strongly in the OptixFIGRANGE for this race. His stablemate #8 BEAU OXY has a bit more to prove in here. Certainly, his most recent race at Fair Grounds fits in Range, however note it was a “match race” that day with some suspect visuals (NO_LINE) and REGRESS? keyword from the effort.

#3 LYKAN had some upside from his first start back this season running in the Smarty Jones S. especially given the cutback in distance as he does present more as a sprinter. He did move forward and enough to get the win back on February 23 finishing in a tight photo with the “best of the speed” in that race. The pace scenario aided him that afternoon and is suspect that will happen here given the SpeedRate and his position in Quad IV. He has a good late kick as displayed from the Square and likely to run on late, though seems he could have too much to do for that top spot. Class is also something for him to prove. He ran a career top OptixFIG by more than 10 points in his most recent race, and in terms of class has to prove he can run those type of figures consistently at this higher class level.