RACE 5 – APPLE BLOSSOM (G1):
A compact field carries no shortage of quality with the top distaff runners contesting this premier graded stakes event. Looking at the Plot, #2 LETRUSKA could have the pace advantage and that LONE trip she prefers and often needs to win. However, that is no guarantee and could find contention to the first call from longshot, #4 MISS IMPERIAL according to Surface/Distance. Both #1 MARACUJA and #5 CE CE could also take part in that pace pressure based on the nature of this race and smaller field.
Ce Ce as the second choice on the morning line, could lack value based on the Surface/Distance. She is a top class mare though has shown some distance limitations when placed at the top level and that is reflected on Surface/Distance with the Large Circle. Maracuja overall is on the softer side on OptixFIG except for her Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) win at Saratoga last summer. In that race, she race closer to the pace, a tactical trip that could be utilized today (and create added pace pressure for Letruska) as she makes her second start of the form cycle noting she broke slow and had trouble at the start (SLOG, TROUBLE_S) on April 1.
#3 CLAIRIERE is known as a closer (C RunStyle) though in today’s event, she should be able to track closer to the pace as shown as a solid Quad II Square positioned above the Par Line. That Plot position and shape reflects her class in this group. That class is supported by her OptixGRADE/FIG (Speed and Form) shown in the Past 3 Runlines without “Red” – a contrast to her competition. As the third choice on the morning line, she is not only a legit contender, but also value in this race.
RACE 8 – OAKLAWN STAKES:
As a whole, this is not the strongest stakes race for the sophomore runners with a solid gauge on this group based on their form this season. #4 HOME BREW has been freshened since his disappointing run as the favorite in the Smarty Jones Stakes back on Jan. 1. As shown on the Plot, he could hold a pace advantage today, however, does have some concerns based on overall form. This will be his first start back with that 112-day break though has been working since that start at the first part of the year, which does raise some questions why it has taken this long to return to the races. Those reservations are valid and something that should be reflected in the odds and might not necessarily be there as Home Brew could be favored today.
The morning line favorite role is assigned to #2 STELLAR TAP, another that comes into this race with his own set of reservations. Overall he has yet to progress from his juvenile numbers as his speed figures/OptixFIG have remained stagnant. He has had some subtle trips as shown in the Past 3 Runlines, though the pattern of those trips along with the lack of improvement on speed, could suggest those “trips” might be self-inflicted. As far as trip today, Rosario and Stellar Tap could be up close to the pace and enter a duel drawn inside of rival Home Brew and with the change in distance. That scenario with both of these runners could take a toll on their finishing ability, cut into the Square as shown on the Plot.
That potential duel from Home Brew and Stellar Tap joined by #1 CLANCY’S PISTOL (Quad I Circle) could benefit #6 THE SKIPPER TOO as he sits as a Square in the Center of the Plot. While he could benefit from that pace scenario, he has some concerns in his own right especially in terms of class. He was given the DROP Projection (along with rival #5 LONG CROW) in that most recent start, the March 12 allowance race. The Skipper Too could also be “peaked” on speed (OptixFIG) as he has paired up the 90 OptixFIG in his two most recent starts and a move forward off those numbers remains to be seen.
#7 HAPPY BOY ROCKET has the flipside on timing compared to Home Brew as Mott will wheel right back in a week, the seven-day turnaround, to run in this stakes race; a rare move for this barn. Happy Boy Rocket ran a competitive race with the B- OptixGRADE while against the flow in that April 16 allowance race. His gate issues (SLOG, TROUBLE_S) as shown in the Past 3 Runlines are problematic, though he is a runner that could still hold some upside. That projection is keying off his maiden win and 91 OptixFIG back in late January that could suggest he still has a move forward available off that effort.
#3 KUCHAR is another that could present upside on an improving pattern as he makes his third start of the form cycle. Keying off his debut, the added ground (STRETCH) was projected for him to move forward. He returned off the layoff with the added ground on Feb. 12 though was very cold on the board and in hindsight that race could have been a “prep” for Kuchar, as his stablemate We The People was heavily backed winning that race by open lengths. It is interesting that the connections will add the blinkers today coming off of a win. That equipment change on this lightly raced developing runner could change up his Run Style and projected trip as he is placed here in Quad IV.