The first thing that jumps out when looking at the OptixPLOT is the lack of a “standout” — this suggests a competitive race and a spot to take on the favorite. The “yellow” PlotFit is in play despite minimal changes from Standard (current form) to Surface/Distance. The Quad I/III contention as listed as “Fire” is part of that “Yellow” PlotFit with 25 SpeedRate. Finishing ability (Square) is key without a strong front end pace advantage with those Circle EP RunStyle types positioned in Quad I.
The 3-1 morning line favorite, #6 RESTORING HOPE figures as the horse to run down late positioned in Quad I as a solid Square. He was tested with the “Fire” Contention under similar conditions and while he is given credit for staying on as the Best of the Speed (BOS), he still faltered late, finishing third. #7 TIZ MCNAMARA falls into that middle ground as a Quad II Square listed as a P (presser) RunStyle. He has raced closer to the pace this season and back from the 443-day layoff in February. Scott Becker could have this horse figured out, and Tiz McNamara could take another step forward as he has higher OptixFIG recorded from back in 2019-2020. That said, value will still be required on Tiz McNamara as a horse stepping up in class off a PERFECT trip last out.
The lower SpeedRate could prove problematic for the closers/Quad IV runners and specifically #1 SPORTS FAN, who could be bet down from his 6-1 morning line, as many from the Broberg barn have been this meet and as of late. The “Fire” Contention rating has not been a favorable scenario for Sports Fan in the past; he has five races with the “Fire” Contention, which includes his two most recent starts. He has finished off the board in all but one of those races, a third-place result from a Remington Park turf race back in 2020. His current form keeps him in the mix, though a shorter number on a closer could be reason to look elsewhere for a key horse.
#3 REVENIO projects to land on a much higher number than Sports Fan, and looking at the Plot there is not much to separate the two to justify that projected discrepancy on the board. This “Fire” Contention and average SpeedRate suits Revenio, a scenario he has had in just limited starts, with one of those resulting in his N2L claiming win. Revenio often takes up the Quad IV position, though he is usually a Circle, and for the first time in his career he sits as a Quad IV Square on both Standard and Surface/Distance.
#6 SALUTE THE FLAG projects to be a heavy favorite in this race as she returns today after recording a place finish and strong speed figure by all outlets back on February 13. That Special Weight race and number (92 OptixFIG) makes her the horse to beat. However, she is no lock and will still have to earn it in this field.
There are some interesting storylines with that February 13 race, and the race itself has not been productive so far with the horses running back from that race. Four horses out of that race (including #2 LADY COMMANDER in that sample) made their next start at the maiden claiming level and are still working to clear that maiden condition. The third-place February 13 finisher, Church Service, returned in a Special Weight sprint on February 27 where she finished second, though saw her OptixFIG decline from 84 to 81.
The winner of that February 13 race was a Steve Asmussen-trained runner called, Tap for Me, that broke on top from the rail and with the lone trip went gate-to-wire. Tap for Me is owned by Whisper Hill Farms and that owner will be represented again with a pair in this race. #7 GOLDENA is co-owned by Whisper Hill and in part by trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. She was given a look with the added ground (STRETCH) for that February 13 race making her second start — one that was cut short breaking slow (SLOG, TROUBLE_S), forcing her early off the pace and against the race dynamic. She has worked forwardly out of that February 13 race and still projects to have a move forward, suggesting she has yet to show her full potential.
Whisper Hill, Asmussen, and Rosario will also team up with #3 DANCE IT, a first-time starter in this race. She will give up age to four-year-old rivals Salute the Flag and Goldena in this race, as well as experience taking this spot for her debut. She has a steady workout tab coming into this race with the most recent drills recorded at Fair Grounds. The barn is capable with first-time starters and horses debuting at a mile, though those are still challenges in play on debut. That extends #5 SLEEPLESS DREAM as she takes on the older and experienced fillies first out for her connections. In contrast to Dance It, Sleepless Dream has been working on the grounds here at Oaklawn Park since early January.
#4 PRAY GLORIA will stretch out in her third start of the meet and overall must improve across the board. She shares a common running line with Church Service from that February 13 race, and Pray Gloria sits below OptixFIGRANGE (OFR) without much to project the required move forward needed today. She did have some trouble on February 27. However, that trouble might not have been very impactful overall. In addition, that race came up softer than par (OFR), which does create some class concerns for Pray Gloria, along with #1 QUALITY CHROME as well.