The center of the sports world this weekend will be in Hot Springs, Arkansas, at Oaklawn Park racetrack. Since March 12, they’ve been conducting live thoroughbred racing without fans, generating 100% of their wagering revenue online.
This Saturday, they’re offering a fantastic 11-race program, headlined by the Count Fleet Handicap and the Apple Blossom Stakes. Let’s dive into those races.
COUNT FLEET HANDICAP
Named after the 1943 Triple Crown winner, this race drew a field of eleven horses and will be run at three-quarters of a mile, or six furlongs.
TOP PICK: 2, Flagstaff. This California invader has been in good form all year long. In his most recent start, the San Carlos Stakes at Santa Anita Park, he sat a good trip off the early leaders. Once they tired, he pounced and drew away to victory. I expect a similar setup here. There’s lots of speed horses in the field, including 4, Bobby’s Wicked One, 6, Mr. Jagermeister, 7, Hidden Scroll, and 10, Share the Upside. If all of them battle for the lead, Flagstaff will be sitting just off them, and will be able to go by and get the jump on the rest of the closers.
SECOND CHOICE: 9, Whitmore. Like Flagstaff, Whitmore will be coming from off the pace. Unlike Flagstaff, Whitmore has done most of his running in the midwest, and has won eight times from thirteen starts at Oaklawn. He tends to come from far out of it, so Flagstaff will almost certainly have the advantage on him turning for home. Because his love of Oaklawn is hardly a well-kept secret, Whitmore is likely to go off as the favorite, and I’m not sure if he’s a deserving one. Nevertheless, the likely early pace scenario and his love of this track makes him a contender.
APPLE BLOSSOM HANDICAP
One of the top races for older female horses in the country, this race features a field of fourteen horses, and will be run at 1 1/16 miles.
TOP PICK: 5, Point of Honor. Both my top choices are longshots in this race, but this is a race where a case can be made for many horses. The early favorite, 4, Come Dancing, hasn’t raced all year, is a speed horse in a race loaded with speed horses, and has never raced around two turns. If you don’t think she can win, you’re guaranteed to get a better price on just about anybody else you like.
Point of Honor has an interesting case. As a three-year-old last year, she won the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico, then finished second in two major races at the prestigious Saratoga meet. Her first start of the year, a second-place finish at Tampa Bay Downs, was not that impressive. However, it was her first race off a long break, and it was at only 7/8ths a mile, a bit shorter than she likes. That’s a sign to me that it was designed as a prep for bigger races down the road, and her people were fine with whatever happened as long as she didn’t embarrass herself. With that race under her belt, she should be ready to fire a big one here. She has a powerful closing kick, in a race filled with speed. If she gets a pace setup she wants, she’ll be a big factor late.
SECOND CHOICE: 7, Queen Nekia: This Florida invader is coming off a near-miss in the Royal Delta Stakes at Gulfstream Park, finishing third by less than a length. She had a rough trip in the early stages of the race, before battling with the leaders in the stretch and narrowly missing. She’s another one who should get a good pace setup, at possibly big odds.
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4.18.20 LOL LPL/LCK: https://gameondailyfantasy.com/2020/04/17/4-18-20-lol-lpl-lck-slate/
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