Below is an analysis looking at the OptixEQ plot graph found at the end of this post for Oaklawn Park race 8 on April 30, 2020.
#2 VEXATIOUS is a solid contender and will make her return to the track to face a competitive field of distaff runners in this allowance event. There are things to keep in mind with the layoff as she will have to come ready to run and prepared by conditioner Sisterson. Today’s mile distance is also worth noting as she has been running in longer events throughout most out of her career. Many of those races were on the turf, however, but she shown to be versatile on the main track as well. Her class should allow her to sit closer to the pace (Quad I/II Square) and likely to find the right tracking trip as shown on OptixPLOT2020 hovering around the middle of the PLOT.
The pace scenario looks to be contentious with the noted “Fire” Contention rating and “fast” with the accompanying 67 SpeedRate. This is notable with three of the race contenders positioned in that Quad I spot:
#4 LETRUSKA will step up in class off a strong front-running LONE win just two weeks ago. The LONE trip does not look to be the case this afternoon as she finds company in Quad I, and with the quick turnaround off the big effort and 101 OptixFIG could be “over the top” here.
#7 FIGHTING MAD will make her four-year-old debut this afternoon for Baffert and overall looks well spotted in this event for her return. Much like LETRUSKA, she will come into this race off a solid front running win (LONE) in her most recent start, the Torrey Pines Stakes (G3) last summer. There are some concerns in terms of distance as she will be out to prove she is a true two-turn runner, and with the presence of the other Quad I runners prove she can hold her speed and show stamina on the front end while taking pressure.
#8 BLAMED will ship in for Bill Mott and her presence certainly creates a more contentious race shape for the other two Quad I fillies. BLAMED is capable to show speed on the front end and has been tested (PRESSED) on the lead, able to withstand the pace pressure and still run her race. She is also tested around two-turns and holds a perfect 3-for-3 record. Her current form can present some reservations for handicappers, though should be noted there are some excuses for her recent off-the-board finishes in the Inside Information (G2) and Hurricane Bertie Stakes (G3) as it relates to today’s race. Aside from the obvious with those races being graded stakes events, in both races she was part of a contested very fast (X_FLOW) early pace before tiring. Racing fast and against the flow in a sprint race is a lot different than the fractions she will be able to run on at this longer distance and can move her up under these conditions. With the edge on experience, recency, class and speed figures, along with the strong Surface/Distance Quad I Square and of the Quad I trio, she is preferred.
Looking to take advantage of the “Fire” Contention and SpeedRate, #1 VAULT and #3 MISS BIGLY will look to run on late as Squares from Quad IV. VAULT will make her Oaklawn debut and first start in the Brad Cox barn in this event. She comes into the race off the 152-day break as well as the three-race win streak. This will be a much stiffer test than the races she closed out 2019 in and the pace scenario could be a benefit on that front. MISS BIGLY has not quite been the “closer” type in her two most recent starts, however, has been able to make that one late run in the past. Much like VAULT she will come in off a two-race win streak, a slight layoff and does face a much stiffer test than her two most recent races at the Fair Grounds.
Trip will be a factor for #5 BEACH FLOWER and #9 MOTION EMOTION. Both runners are listed as E/P types in the OptixRPM/RunStyleMatch and do seem to prefer that type of trip. As shown on OptixPLOT (and keeping in mind horses are placed on OptixPLOT in relationship to each other not always related to their run style) they are positioned more in Quad II/IV lacking the same tactical speed to run with the trio in Quad I. While that positioned could be favorable (see VEXATIOUS) they will have to overcome the Circle (lack of finish) shape. Similar in terms of trip and class concerns for #6 BLESSED AGAIN shown as a Circle in Quad IV. Any type of “meltdown” could have her grinding along late but lacking a true “close.”