(Oaklawn Park / Photo by Gene McLean)

From the Oaklawn Park Media Team:

Unbeaten Essential Quality, the country’s 2-year-old male of 2020, isn’t the only stakes entrant for global power Godolphin LLC Saturday at Oaklawn.

About 90 minutes before Essential Quality’s 3-year-old debut in the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3), Godolphin is scheduled to be represented by another homebred, Mystic Guide, in a major local event for older horses.

Mystic Guide is the 9-5 program favorite for the $600,000 Razorback Handicap (G3), a 1 1/16-mile race that is a major steppingstone toward the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) at 1 1/8 miles April 17. Probable post time for the Razorback, which goes as the seventh of 11 races, is 3:20 p.m. (Central).

The Razorback was originally scheduled to be run Feb. 13 before fierce winter weather shuttered racing at Oaklawn for two weeks. It will still mark the 4-year-old debut for the royally bred Mystic Guide, who is by 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper out of millionaire multiple Grade 1 winner Music Note.

Trained by Michael Stidham, Mystic Guide has already built a solid resume in six career starts, winning the $150,000 Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) Sept. 5 at Saratoga before concluding his 2020 campaign with a second-place finish, beaten three-quarters of a length, in the $250,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (G1) Oct. 10 at Belmont Park.

Stidham said the Razorback figures to lead to longer events because of maturity and Mystic Guide’s pedigree. The colt, who didn’t race at 2, broke his maiden at 1 1/16 miles, is a Grade 2 winner at 1 1/8 miles (Jim Dandy) and nearly a Grade 1 winner at 1 ¼ miles (Jockey Club Gold Cup).

“Those are the races we’re going to focus on,” Stidham said. “After this, hopefully, we’ll be looking at races, a mile and an eighth, mile and a quarter, those type of races.”

Stidham said he chose to start Mystic Guide’s 2021 campaign in the Razorback because Maxfield, yet another unbeaten Godolphin homebred, was being pointed to the $200,000 Mineshaft Stakes (G3) for older horses Feb. 13 at Fair Grounds. Mystic Guide has recorded a series of sharp workouts at Fair Grounds leading up to his 2021 debut.

“The mile and a sixteenth, it’ll be a little quicker than what he ran, fractions, in his last couple,” Stidham said. “But, I don’t see him being worse than like mid-pack, laying third or fourth, something like that.”

The projected seven-horse Razorback field from the rail out: Silver Prospector, Ricardo Santana Jr. to ride, 117 pounds, 5-1 on the morning line; Hunka Burning Love, David Cabrera, 117, 9-2; Mailman Money, Joe Talamo, 115, 10-1; Owendale, Joel Rosario, 120, 2-1; Rated R Superstar, Ramon Vazquez, 115, 8-1; Long Range Toddy, Jon Court, 116, 12-1; and Mystic Guide, Luis Saez, 121, 9-5.

Millionaire multiple Grade 3 winner Owendale will be making his Oaklawn debut for owner Rupp Racing and Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox. Based most of the last two months at Oaklawn, Owendale hasn’t started since finishing third in the $500,000 Clark Stakes (G1) Nov. 27 at Churchill Downs.

Cox said he thought about running Owendale in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) Jan. 23 at Gulfstream Park, but opted for Oaklawn because of its lucrative series of stakes races for older horses. Owendale has finished first, second or third in 13 of 20 lifetime starts and bankrolled $1,348,435.

“He can adjust,” Cox said, referring to Owendale’s running style. “He’s been close and still finishes well, when there’s not a lot of pace. I feel confident that he’ll be able to adjust to whatever the pace seems to be.”

Silver Prospector (2020 Southwest), Long Range Toddy (first division of 2019 Rebel) and Rated R Superstar (2019 Essex) are Oaklawn stakes winners. Hunka Burning Love finished second, beaten a nose, in the $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes for older horses Jan. 23 at Oaklawn.

Owendale, Silver Prospector, Mystic Guide and Long Range Toddy were entered when the race was originally scheduled to be run Feb. 13. It also drew seven entrants.