Oaklawn Park Picks for Saturday, December 11 ft. Poinsettia Stakes

On Saturday, December 11, Oaklawn Park will feature a 10-race card highlighted by the Poinsettia Stakes. You can get my preview of the Poinsettia Stakes as well as the Grade III Mr. Prospector Stakes at Gulfstream Park on the Win Place Show podcast and YouTube show. Below are my picks for the entire Saturday card at Oaklawn and get all my horse racing coverage by following me on Twitter at @failedtomenace.

Race 1

Post time: 1:30 PM ET

Distance: 1 1/16 miles

Type: $8,000 Claiming 

Age: 3-years-old and up

Surface: Dirt

Overview: Morning line favorite Heirloom Kitten (5-2) is taking getting some class relief in the $8,000 claimer that kicks off a nice Saturday at Oaklawn. Despite the class relief, I’m still skeptical in part because of distance. Yes, he’s run against much better competition, but he regularly loses five to ten lengths coming down the stretch at races over a mile. There will likely be a fast pace up front between Istillgotit (10-1) and Ike (5-1). Typically, I’d like Ike to hit the board and maybe even wire the field, but he’s going to face pressure and when that has happened at the past at this distance, he’s really faded down the stretch. The horse that I believe will benefit from the hot pace is Coach Adams (3-1) who can sit off the pace and has shown much better class at this distance than most others. While his pedigree may not show it, Tiz Showbiz (4-1) is a horse that should like the stretch out in distance based on past performances where he’s been gaining down the stretch. He’s going to be running against some solid horses, but I like his chances to hit the board. I think the top three are the class of the field, but Love Nest (6-1) could sneak onto the board with a ground-saving trip on the inside rail.

Win: Coach Adams ($8,000)

Place: Heirloom Kitten ($8,500)

Show: Tiz Showbiz ($7,000)

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Race 2

Post time: 1:58 PM ET

Distance: 6 furlongs

Type: $10,000 Starter Allowance

Age: 3-years-old and up

Surface: Dirt

Overview: Difficult race to handicap as two of the three favorites are coming off significant layoffs. One for Richie (5-2) has not run in six months since a no-contest result at Churchill Downs and Hidden Ruler (3-1) has not run since before Labor Day. Both horses are fully capable of winning the race if they run to their potential, but the layoff is concerning. As a result, Beverly Park (2-1) is the morning line favorite. Beverly Park is a worthy favorite as he’s 8-9 winning this year and 9-9 hitting the board. He loves the distance and has been running against comparable fields. If there is a concern is that he runs…a lot. This will be his ninth race since August when he was claimed by Norman Cash, but it’s hard to argue with the results. One for Ritchie has been working out well at Oaklawn leading up to this race, but he and Beverly Park should be on the lead together and yesterday we watched heavy favorite Nashville return to sprint action at Oaklawn and tire down the stretch. Therefore, I’m going to look to the outside at Hidden Ruler who has been working out well at Oaklawn as well but has not faced nearly as long of a layoff. Alex’s Strike is going to have to hope the pace falls apart up front but he’s capable to making a late run to hit the board. Seems like a chalky start to the day at Oaklawn but there will be value later.

Win: Hidden Ruler ($8,000)

Place: Beverly Park ($9,000)

Show: One for Richie ($8,500)

Race 3

Post time: 2:26 PM ET

Distance: 6 furlongs

Type: $20,000 Claiming

Age: 3-years-old and up

Surface: Dirt

Overview: Another race with a favorite taking a huge class drop. Here we find Latin Casino (3-1) shipping in from the northeast and dropping down to a claiming race after running allowance races in recent months. If he runs how he has been lately, he likely wins. In terms of value, there are a few intriguing choices here. Shacks Way (9-2) is a horse coming off nearly a year layoff but has been training lights out for Robertino Diodoro and is running at the distance he won his maiden. I’d be interested to see how his betting line changes between morning line and post time. Kosher Cowboy (7-2) is a safe bet to the hit the board because that’s what he tends to do on dirt, but he’s hardly run against overwhelming competition. Opus Equus (9-2) took a long time to break his maiden, and this is not a great spot to run against previous winners. Fallen Empire (8-1) has a chance to hit the board given that he should have a nice trip stalking position but the real wildcard in the race is Little Mark (15-1) who is coming off a 16-month layoff but has been turning in blistering workouts at Oaklawn for the past month. There is not a dominant horse in the field and therefore, I wouldn’t mind putting Little Mark on the bottom portion of your exotics as I think he can run well here.

Win: Latin Casino ($8,000)

Place: Shacks Way ($6,500)

Show: Little Mark ($500)

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Race 4

Post time: 2:55 PM ET

Distance: 6 furlongs

Type: $84,000 Maiden Special Weight

Age: 3-years-old and up

Surface: Dirt

Overview: We have a few intriguing horses here and I’ll start with the one who should be the early pacesetting, Constitutional Law (9-2). He’s taking a huge cutback in distance from running a mile and ¼ to 6 furlongs and I think it was greatly benefiting him. He’s one of the rare Tapit progeny who doesn’t appear to love distance as he fades down the stretch, but he’s got an incredible burst and tactical speed to get on the lead in a sprint and hold it. Love the value here. Go West (5-1) also provides good value if, and it’s a big if, he runs back to the form he had prior to his year-long layoff. His workouts have been okay but not good enough to make me think he’s ready to make a splash in a strong field. Meanwhile, I’m out on Stratofortress, the morning line favorite, as he’s much better on turf and while his recent workouts are solid, he’s taking a step up in class after running a career-worst 9th-place finish on dirt two races ago. Emperador (4-1) is a solid horse who’s been running consistently good speed figures the last few times out but it’s not yet clear which surface or distance he prefers. That said, he should be a solid competitor here with good positioning. League of Legends (8-1) is taking a cut back in class and distance from his last time out and I think that combination might prove worthwhile. This will be his second start after a long layoff and that’s an intriguing angle to play as often time that first race is used to knock the rust off and he came out of it looking strong.

Win: Constitutional Law ($6,500)

Place: Emperador ($7,000)

Show: League of Legends ($3,000)

Race 5

Post time: 3:21 PM ET

Distance: 6 furlongs

Type: $40,000 Starter Allowance

Age: 3-years-old and up

Surface: Dirt

Overview: Morning line favorite Johnny Unleashed (5-2) is exclusively a turf horse, and a good one at that, but he hasn’t run well on dirt since breaking his maiden two years ago. He may be the best horse in the field, but the surface change leaves me looking elsewhere for a winner. Much Better (3-1) ran terribly last time out but that can be chalked up to the slop. Recently, Much Better has cut back in distance and seemed to find a new home as a sprint horse. If he can replicate his efforts from two and three races ago then he’s certainly a win contender. Lamartine (10-1) is another horse that has had his best efforts on turf, but he has done well occasionally on dirt, which makes him a bit of a wild card in the field. He’s one of two 10-1 shots that I think is valuable to play underneath. The other is Shotski (10-1), who strikes me as an interesting play because he’s taking a big cutback in distance and has had some success early in his career at six-furlongs. Can he replicate that in this spot? I’m not sure, but for the price, he’s got a new trainer that wins 21% off the claim, so I think he’s worth a shot. Long Term Thinking (4-1) is a consistent horse, but his best performances are in muddy conditions so I’m wary to put too much faith in him. Nevertheless, he’s managed to hit the board under fast conditions against lesser fields, so he may be worth a shot on the backend of exotics.

Win: Much Better ($8,000)

Place: Shotski ($1,000)

Show: Long Term Thinking ($7,000)

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Race 6

Post time: 3:51 PM ET

Distance: 6 furlongs

Type: $84,000 Maiden Special Weight

Age: 2-years-old

Surface: Dirt

Overview: Nearly every horse in the race is on Lasix other than the morning line favorite One Ten Stadium (5-2) who ran the most impressive race in the field in his first effort with a 65 Beyer Speed Figure as a game second-place at Remington Park. He did start losing ground late in that 5 ½ furlong race to stretching out every so slightly to six furlongs is a little concerning but of the horses who have raced previously, he’s the clear class of the field. While he didn’t run as big of a number in his maiden, Razo (7-2) showed that he gain ground down the stretch at the distance so despite stepping up in class, he certainly is a strong choice. Long shot Full Buck Moon (30-1) was recently gelded. I don’t play that angle very often, but I know some people do so I figured I would at least mention that development. Of the veteran runners, Street Commander (15-1) ran an awful maiden on turf, but I think he’ll respond better on dirt. It’s a risky bet, for sure, but his trainer is winning 28% of races when switching horses from turf to dirt and his workouts on the surface have been solid. Of the first-time runners, I would look at Whelen Spring who has great pedigree, good workouts, and the outside post position to use the tactical speed to get an ideal placement.

Win: One Ten Stadium ($8,500)

Place: Razo ($7,500)

Show: Whelen Springs ($6,000)

Race 7

Post time: 4:19 PM ET

Distance: 1 mile

Type: $80,000 Allowance Optional Claiming

Age: 3-years-old and up

Surface: Dirt

Overview: My Sixth Sense (3-1) is an interesting horse as he’s running the best speed figures in the field but hasn’t won a race in well over a year and that was in sloppy conditions. Additionally, he’s not taking a step down in class, so he’s largely been running, and finishing in the money but not the winner’s circle, at this level for a while. Morning line favorite Sonneman (5-2) is another horse that is often in the thick of things but rarely wins. He’s finished second seven times in 18 career races while only winning three times. His jockey, Ricardo Santana Jr., may be heating up after an epic cold streak, but I’m not sold on this horse as the winner. To me, Guest Suite (7-2) is a more interesting play as he’s getting class relief after running in graded stakes races over the last few months. Additionally, he’s 8-9 hitting the board at this distance and 5-9 winning at a mile. Spa City (9-2) is the other horse I’d really consider as his last two races have been the strongest in the field. While one of those came on mud, he also ran just as fast on a dry surface the race before. Since being claimed by Tom Amoss he’s reeled off three straight 90+ Beyer Speed Figure races with two victories.  

Win: Spa City ($6,500)

Place: Guest Suite ($7,500)

Show: My Sixth Sense ($8,000)

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Race 8

Post time: 4:46 PM ET

Distance: 1 mile

Type: $40,000 Maiden Claiming

Age: 3-years-old and up

Surface: Dirt

Overview: Fan Club (3-1) is stepping down in class after a pricey $120,000 Maiden Special Weight last time out. He’s shown the ability to get close to winning at lower-level races so he makes sense as a win contender when factoring in the class relief. That said, there are some intriguing long shots in this race starting with River Redemption (12-1) who has been running faster each time out but is stepping back up to a mile. His workouts are good but Nick Zito is ice cold (3% winners) as a trainer right now. Brody Boucher (12-1) is another ascending horse but is more suited for turf. My Favorite Uncle (7-2) has run well since switching back to dirt and despite never winning, rarely turns in a bad performance. Similarly, Saqeel (5-1) is a horse that should like the distance and has hit the board a few times in his career. Holiday Ticket (6-1) should be driving at the end as will Roulette (6-1) but I’m not sure either has the class to win the race though I think both offer nice value underneath.

Win: Fan Club ($8,000)

Place: Saqeel ($6,000)

Show: Roulette ($5,000)

Race 9

Post time: 5:13 PM ET

Distance: 1 1/16 miles

Type: Poinsettia Stakes – $150,000 purse

Age: 3-years-old

Surface: Dirt

Overview: Heavy morning-line favorite Super Stock (9-5) has run well in his last three races but has come up short against Flash of Mischief (5-2) two races ago at the Grade III Oklahoma Derby. He’s a solid horse who ran against monster competition leading up to, and including, the Kentucky Derby but that race clearly took something out of him. He’s eventually bounced back with some nice performances but hasn’t regained his form against this caliber of horse running with this pace. On the other hand, Flash of Mischief, in addition to besting Super Stock at the Oklahoma Derby should get to the lead and has been turning in incredibly consistent performances throughout his career. He’s hit the board 9-11 times this year, winning five of them including the last two non-graded stakes races he’s run. Ram (12-1) seems like phenomenal value on your exotics as he’s a horse that makes a huge run late and often comes up a bit short but has been routinely hitting the board at this level in his previous races. I also believe stretching him out in distance after several sprint and mile races will benefit his running style. Defeater (3-1) was an upcoming and coming horse who also ran in the Oklahoma Derby and got beat soundly by nearly nine lengths. It was likely a combination of stepping up in distance and class a little too soon. However, he rebounded nicely at a mile in a very rich allowance race at Churchill Downs in which he won by over seven lengths. It will be interesting to see how much he’s matured in the last three months in his rematch against Super Stock and Flash of Mischief. Last Samurai (5-1) doesn’t offer much at this distance as he’s 0-3 at this shorter length and prefers to run longer distances so I do not see him as a factor in a strong field. Simovitch (8-1) might be an intriguing play in deeper exotics, particularly if one of the favorites falters, as he’s trending in the right direction and might prefer more distance as his career-best performance came last time out when they finally stretched him out over a mile.

Win: Flash of Mischief (5-2)

Place: Ram (12-1)

Show: Defeater (3-1)

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Race 10

Post time: 5:40 PM ET

Distance: 1 1/16 miles

Type: $100,000 Allowance

Age: 3-years-old and up

Surface: Dirt

Overview: A competitive allowance race closes out the card today and you have several win contenders in the field. Morning line favorite Palace Coup (5-2) is coming off a win in a starter allowance race at Churchill Downs last time out but had struggled getting to the winner’s circle prior to that on the claiming circuit on the west coast. From a speed figure perspective, his last race was a significant jump, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see a slight regression to the norm this time out. Therefore, I’m looking at Phantom Dance (4-1) who is shipping in from California but has run some nice races since coming back from a four-month layoff. The reason to like Phantom Dance in this spot is that the distance should benefit him as he just ran out of ground at a mile last time out while tracking down the leader and the race before that he was pulling away down the stretch at a mile for a victory. I’m always a little wary of California shippers but I like the value in this spot and think he’s a game horse. Among Friends (8-1) is an intriguing horse because he ran a clunker last time out, but it was on the slop. He’s done well at the distance but might prefer sprints. Still, for the value, he may present an interesting choice as he should be well-positioned to make a run down the stretch. Miacomet (15-1) will likely challenge Palace Coup for the early lead but it’s unlikely he’ll be able to stick around late as he’s running against other winners for the first time. Finally, Luck of the Draw (10-1) is worth including in deeper exotics. He’s taking a step up in class but loves the distance and has just recently been claimed by Robertino Diodoro who is always hot at Oaklawn.

Win: Phantom Dance (4-1)

Place: Luck of the Draw (10-1)

Show: Palace Coup (5-2)

Get all of Matthew’s horse racing coverage by following him on Twitter at @failedtomenace, by subscribing to Amalfi Media’s YouTube channel, and following The Win Place Show podcast.

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Join the Conversation

  1. You likely will have to stop by a ATM before you go to the track on Sunday !
    Always pick Diodoro and Cox runners and toss in Asmussen’s horses in the gimmicks !

    1. Haha! I actually did okay today. I do a lot of straight WP bets on my top two so horses like Emperador, One Ten Stadium, and Luck of the Draw paid out well along with others that paid out more modestly. The good news is I was hitting a lot at Tampa today as well, so no ATMS in my future. Agreed that Diodoro is a must play at Oaklawn and Cox is a monster everywhere these days. Thanks for reading and following along!!

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