A trio of stakes races headline a stacked program at Oaklawn Park, in Hot Springs, Arkansas, on Friday afternoon. There’s ten races on the card; we’ll focus on the three stakes.
ARKANSAS BREEDERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP STAKES
Eleven Arkansas-bred horses will go 1 1/16 miles. The race is scheduled as the seventh on the card, with a post time of 4:06 PM CDT.
TOP PICK: 4, Hamazing Vision. Lots of these horses have been going short distances in the past, and are now trying to stretch out. This can be a gamble; lots of these types excel going three-quarters of a mile, but don’t have the stamina to go beyond a mile. Hamazing Vision, by contrast, is a proven commodity at today’s 1 1/16 mile distance, with two wins at the distance at the Oaklawn meet. In his last start, he showed a lot of heart to hold off the rally of Promising Shoes, one of his rivals here, and win by half a length. In the race before that, he soundly defeated a field of Arkansas-breds by 3 ½ lengths. He’s been in fine form for a while, with four wins in his last five starts. All of those wins have come at a mile or beyond. He’s an excellent bet to improve to 3-for-3 on the year.
SECOND CHOICE: 2, Souixper Charger. He had no problem stretching out in his last start, going right to the lead and drawing off to an easy win against similar horses. No one else in the field has his combination of early speed and stamina. If he gets a clear early lead, and there’s a pretty good chance he does, he’s going to be tough to catch.
A gigantic field of fourteen three-year-old fillies will do battle over 1 1/16 miles. This is going to be the eighth race of the day, and will go off at approximately 4:38 PM CDT.
TOP PICK: 10, Antoinette. She was solid in her first start of the year last out, in the Fair Grounds Oaks. She finished third, while running a career-high speed rating, after getting blocked behind horses. In her final start of last year, she won the Tepin Stakes impressively at a mile, closing off a slow pace for a sharp 1 ¼-length victory. This is an easier race than her last start, and with a good performance under her belt this year, I’m expecting big things.
SECOND CHOICE: 5, Daphne Moon. After an impressive debut victory at Saratoga last August, she twice tried tough stakes company. She was well-beaten in both efforts. However, she bounced back very nicely in her 2020 debut, battling down the stretch to win by a ¾ of a length. Moreover, she was six lengths clear of third place. She’s tied for the best last-out speed rating in the field, and like Antoinette, should improve second off the break.
With the Kentucky Oaks postponed this year, this is the biggest race for three-year-old fillies so far on the racing calendar. A full field of fourteen will go a distance of 1 1/16 miles. The race will be the ninth race on the card, with a post time of 5:09 PM CDT.
TOP PICK: 2, Venetian Harbor: No one is going to get rich betting this likely favorite, but it’s hard to argue with her credentials. She won her first race in December at Santa Anita Park by ten lengths, establishing herself as one of the top three-year-old fillies in the country. In her first start around two turns, in the Las Virgenes Stakes, she never lost the lead, and won by 9 ¼ lengths. She hasn’t raced since that start, on February 8, but if she can shake off the rust, she’s going to dominate this field.
SECOND CHOICE: 10, British Idiom: Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies champion has raced just once this year, a second-place finish in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes in February. She had to check off heels in that race, and was forced wide. In a big field, she’s susceptible to trouble again, but she has lots of class and has been turning in good published workouts. I’m willing to give her another chance.
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