Emily Gullikson takes a look at the Oaklawn Park Jan. 23 card and provides her OptixEQ analysis for Race 2 and 6.
#10 EGO looks well-placed this afternoon by Chleborad with some upside returning from a slight freshening and 4th place finish last month at Remington Park. Class wise this is a lateral move in terms of OptixFIGRANGE from the allowance event on December 8th – a solid race for the level. He turned in a good effort, B- OptixGRADE, making a move from off the pace with mild traffic waiting behind horses around the turn and not asked for his best late with the top three runners already clear.
He showed a different dimension in terms of running style, a change from the November 16th race when he tracked right off the pacesetter and showed some grit holding off the rivals looking to challenge him late for the win. The ability to dictate a trip should benefit him here given the potential dynamics of this event.
As shown on OptixPLOT, there is Contention (Sun) in Quad I supported by half of the field, six of the 12 runners, sharing the E/EP RunStyle. Ego should be able to put himself into a stalking spot position in that upper left hand corner of Quad IV, a more mid-pack type position rather than one of a deep closer. The Square on both Standard (current form) and Surface/Distance shows his ability to finish (late kick) in relation to the other runners in the field.
RACE 6 – THE FIFTH SEASON STAKES
#4 SILVER STATE looks well placed this afternoon for Asmussen making his return to two-turn racing. He made his first start back of the form cycle on October 22nd at Keeneland, and while favored that afternoon he had some challenges to overcome between the 215-day layoff as well as his debut against older horses. Much like his early racing days, he broke a step slow though was all class stalking full of run waiting for his cue coming off the far turn and presenting on different level (B+ OptixGRADE) than his competition opening up on the field to the wire. He showed a different run style dimension and more alert out of the gate on November 22nd tracking a decent sprinter and moving clear from him in the final furlong pairing up the B+ OptixGRADE and recording a career high 101 OptixFIG.
It is worth looking back at Silver State’s juvenile and sophomore form; form that is solid and tough to knock with the one “bad” race, the Louisiana Derby (G2). The Louisiana Derby (G2) was followed up by the 215-day layoff and run at a distance (9.5f) of ground beyond his ideal, both factors contributing to the 7th place finish that afternoon and willing to “excuse” that effort. Based on his back class and current form, visually Silver State looks like he could be one of the top milers in the country and if that proves the case, he will be quite tough this afternoon.
Unlike the five horse field on November 27th at Churchill Downs when forced to push the pace, Silver State and Ricardo Santana should be able to dictate their preferred trip this afternoon. Silver State is shown on OptixPLOT as a Square in Quad IV, this Plot position usually associated with “closers” however with this race shape and his Standard (current form) Plot position closer to a Quad II/III, trip suggests he falls into a stalking (P) trip here. That trip looks favorable based on the dynamics with some Contention (Sun) to target given the other runners in the field.
Both #3 PIONEER SPIRIT and #5 HUNKA BURNING LOVE are positioned as Circles in Quad I and likely pacesetters based on their EP RunStyle. Neither lack much finish (Circle) and should be tracked closely by stretch-out sprinter #2 FULL AUTHORITY and #7 COMBATANT, one that will require establishing position from the outside draw or suffer a wide trip. #1 NIGHT OPS returning from the 202-day layoff, has some tactical speed (Quad III) as well. Between the rail draw and Martin Garcia in the saddle, Night Ops projects to be engaged early perhaps looking for that “pocket” trip that was successful winning the Cornhusker (G3) as well as the Essex Stakes here at Oaklawn last season. #6 NIFTY is shown in Quad IV, though will be stretching out to two-turns for the first time while making his return from the layoff and second start for Hartman; under these conditions we might see him closer to the pace than how his “Plots” based on what he has shown in his sprint races.