Emily Gullikson takes a look at the Oaklawn Park Feb. 26 card and provides her OptixEQ analysis for Race 5 and 8.
A competitive race with a logical favorite in #8 TONAL VISION. She will make her second start of the meet finding class relief from the allowance group on Jan. 31. There was some trouble in terms of trip which played into the fourth place finish especially given the higher class level on the day. Part of that trouble came at the start (TROUBLE_S) with a slight bobble then raced on hold between horses with Geroux unable to work a trip from there. The start is notable as she is not a good gate horse, keying off the SLOG in her Past 3 Runlines. That could be problematic in terms of trip here as she does show position in Quad I and has the “Sun” Contention and honest 40 SpeedRate to contest with here. While capable in this spot, value could be lacking and there are other alternatives in the field.
#7 MALIBU MARLEE has upside returning here from that same higher allowance event on Jan. 31. She seemed to need the start, along with class relief (DROP) and should benefit from that race from a fitness perspective given the WIDE trip on the day. The Contention and SpeedRate should assist her RunStyle and position from Quad II/IV. Value should be there this once again this afternoon and should keep an eye on the front wraps which were added coming off the layoff on Jan. 31 and upgraded with the removal today.
#4 SUBIACO is a little sneaky in here and could present more upside from her position on the PLOT as a Circle in Quad I. Despite being placed here in Quad I, her RunStyle is shown as PC (presser/closer) and more preferred for her and could be the right style for this race shape. Her position on the PLOT is related to the two Churchill Downs one-turn races from back in November when forced to chase close up to a Very Fast (VF O4S) in both starts and designated with the X_FLOW in the Nov. 22 race. She returns here to the condition she ran at on Feb. 7 making a MOVE that day over a course that was tough to make up ground on and the race won on the front end. The rider change here is also notable with Santana taking over from Talamo, a rider that was given many chances aboard with the rider change welcome at this point. #10 SOUTHERN CENTS exiting that same race sits well-placed on the Plot, though a change in post position with the far outside post today whereas drawing inside assisted her with that ground saving run for place.
As an overall note with the recent delay in racing and training at Oaklawn Park due to weather the track being out of commission over the past couple weeks. Fitness will be key not only in this race, but worth keeping in mind as that delay has set back horses in terms of their conditioning and timing of races. That in mind, there are some additional positives with that Feb. 7 race being just 19 days ago and both Subiaco and Southern Cents returning here to make their second start of the meet and form cycle, right back at this condition, a spot that was likely more picked out to run back in without needing to adjust plans too much.
With a competitive allowance field, the appearance on OptixPLOT suggests a “pace makes the race” outcome. The “Yellow” PlotFit should be kept in mind though will lean on the “Sun” Contention, and the OptixRPM with six of the ten runners sharing that same EP RunStyle. That matches up with the visuals on the Plot as the Standard view has many in this field bunched up around Quad I. Trip could fall towards the tracking trio of #2 STRIKE THAT, #5 SEVEN NATION ARMY and #8 TOUGH LOVE.
The value should land with Tough Love as he makes his second start of the meet and from the ninth-place finish on Jan. 22. As shown in the OptixNOTE Past 3 Runlines, there was run (TROUBLE_S and MOVE) shown and capable to Improve off that race. Seven Nation Army will receive the slight Drop here as suggested coming out of the King Cotton S. and place finish just 13 days ago. The timing is a bit unfortunate for Strike That as he looked a standout in a six-horse claiming race as part of the cancelled card on Feb. 12. He fits in here, however this is a tougher group and post position, which will require him to run his top race coming off the 111-day layoff this afternoon to be a contender.