Day Results 9 / 3-2-3
2020 Overall 357 357 / 124-120-138
Win % of Top Pick 34.73%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall 35.67%
2020 Top Pick in the Money –222-357 62.18%
Top Selection ITM / TP Winter-Sprng 180-291 61.86%
Top Selection Win / TP Winter-Spring 104-291 35.74%
“Key Horses” @ TP Winter-Spring 44-11-11-8 25.00% Win / 68.18% ITM
“Key Horses” in 2020 51-14-13-9 27.45% Win / 70.59% ITM

We got off to a rousing start on Thursday at our new favorite “warm weather” racing venue — Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, ARK. Had 3 winners out of the first 5 races and our “Upset Special” ran away nicely at the end of the 5th to return a whopping $27.40 for every $2 played across the board.

Our top selections returned $10.60, $22.60, $15.60, and the $27.40 for the first five races with a total of $6 invested on each.

In addition, we had $1 exactas that returned $66.10, $73.40, $21.30, $47.3 and $10.10 on the day.

Not bad. Admittedly.

But what could have been?

We let a real nice day slip away from us late.

Here’s our looks at the Oaklawn Park card for Friday. Here’s hoping we can land some nice ones early, and often.

1st: 7-8/4-3/1-9-5/6-2…Icatiro (7) ran third here in the last outing on Feb. 20. Came with a run before flattening out late. Top trainer and rider combo have teamed up to win with .26% of the last 68 mounts together and they had another on Thursday. This will be the third start for this one after being purchased for $16,000 at Churchill Downs last November. In two starts here, has a win and a third. Not shabby. Should be closing late. Around the Dial (8) may be the horse to catch and beat. This 4YO gelded son of Strong Mandate ran off to a nice win at Delta Downs last time out. Admittedly, that was against weaker. But the race before that was stout against $30,000 claimers. Top trainer plucks a top rider to take the reins. Work here on April 1 was spectacular. Must be doing good right now. I bet the 7-8 across the board and then box those two in one exacta. I will key the 7-8 over the 4-3-1-9-5-6-2 in a smaller unit.

2nd: (14)-(13)/6-1-10/4-7/9…My top two picks in this Maiden-Claimer for Arkansas-bred only will have to have some luck just to get into this race. Both are on the AE List going on. Morning Valentine (14) looks the best of the two. Ran a game third last time out at this same level. Will be stretching out to a route for the first time for a barn that has won only .08% with 40 starters here this meet. Ho-hum. But could improve on the 2nd career start. Dixie Cat (13) ran well here last March. Has not shown much of anything since then. Well bet at this level last time out. Against this group, has a shot. If they don’t get to the gate, I will give the nod to Ella’s My Girl (6). This one drops back to the MCL ranks after a try against much better. Barn does win with .18% of those making this class drop. Chance. Take a dart. Aim. Fire. I go with the AE List horses if they get in. If not, I go with the 6 — slightly. Tread lightly.

3rd: 5/(14)-6/12-2-1-11/(13)-9-10-3/4…I have a disclaimer in this one. The #1 horse — Seek N Justice (1) — is a guy that I bred and is a half-brother to two fillies that I still own. I’ll be rooting like crazy for this one and with the class drop, the little guy does merit a chance. He has some speed, if he can get away from the gate early and often. But he and the rest will have to do some running here to get the measure of my first Key Play of the Day — Rider to the Wire (5). This 5YO son of Archarcharch drops off the last outing and he was a serious contender here two races ago against much better. Has the speed of the race and they will have to come hunting him in the late stages. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then key the 5 over/under the numbers listed in the exacta. Will try an extra on the 5-1.

4th: 9-5-1/12-8-4/10/2-6-(13)/7-10-11…My first Upset Special will come in this race with Big Affair (9). This 3YO daughter of The Big Beast is 15-1 in the ML, and I would love to have half those odds. Ran well against Florida-bred in the career debut and then ran off to win by 6 against open company the next time out at Gulfstream Park. Has not raced since finishing a well-beaten 8th in a Stakes event back in November, but the training sessions have been spot on. Look at the move on March 27 and the barn hits with .13% of them off this long; and with .20% of “shippers.” Looks poised to me at a nice price. Santa Ana Winds (5) will get her first start for trainer Chelsey Coady, who formerly was the assistant for my great friend Buff Bradley. This one was claimed last time out after running off to an impressive win to break the maiden for a $25,000 tag. May be able to come right back against winners for the first time. Barn hits with .20% on the first try off a claim. Weekend Madness (1) goes for the hottest barn on the grounds. Trainer has won with .27% of the 166 starters here this meet. This won ran off to win by 10 last time out to break the maiden. Hard to dismiss those numbers. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 9 over/under all the numbers in two smaller units.

5th: 10-6/1-5-12-11/3-(14)-2/8-(13)…Red Clay Magic (10) draws an outside post and that’s a far cry from the rail position that he got last time out. Was claimed then by the Diodoro barn — which scores with .24% on the first try after the purchase. Drops off the claim, too. Wins with .37% of those. That’s 3-7%. Had one of those on Thursday, too. Imposing on paper. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then key the 10 over/under the numbers listed in the exacta. May try a 10-6 box, too.

6th: 3/6-7-1A-9/2-5/4-8…The second Key Play of the Day comes here with Oro de Tejano (3). This 4YO gelded son of Munnings is getting a huge drop in class and the last time he was at this level, he nearly won at the Fair Grounds three starts ago. Tom Amoss is having another outstanding meet and has won with .21% of the 42 starters here this meet. This one has only 1 win in 8 starts at the distance, but does have 3 seconds and a third. Look for more today. Needs to finish the kick at the end. Can he? I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then key the 3 over/under all the numbers listed in the exactas.

7th: 2-5-11/7-1/12-4-3-8/10-9…What a nice claiming event that has been carded here. I will go with So Alive (2) in this spot. The 4YO Super Saver colt is coming off a disappointing run last time out at the Fair Grounds. Was 4th, but beaten 10. Drops into the claiming ranks today and the barn hits with .30% of those doing that for the first time. Gets a hot rider to take the reins. Jock has teamed up with this barn to win with .24% of the 45 trips together. Looks promising. Tight Ten (5) was cut out to be a real, real good one. In the first three starts, this one had a win and two seconds. The two seconds were in the G2 Saratoga Special and the G3 Iroquois. Went on a rough spell until the last time out, when running at Houston. Showed up big on the lead that day and scored easily for the Team Asmussen barn. Now returns to face tougher, again. Has the talent. Has he woken up? Lighthawk (11) has a shot here, too. In 7 career starts over this dirt track, he has a 1-2-1 mark. Has a win and a second in 3 tries at the distance, too. Returns as a beaten fav today and the barn hits with .29% of those. Watch out. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 2-11 over/under all the numbers listed in two smaller units.

8th: 7-2-9/3-4-6/5-8…Dreamalildreamofu (7) is a promising 3YO filly from the barn of Brad Cox. If you don’t know by now, you aren’t paying much attention. This guy, Cox? He can train a filly. A colt, too. But his fillies? That come out of the carton running. This one looks to be the same ilk. Ran 2nd on debut and then won the next time out. Both of those were on the grass at the Fair Grounds. But the breeding suggests that she should like the distance and the dirt, too. Gets a top rider. And the barn hits with .27% of those moving from the turf to the dirt. My solid pick. Going large here. Strong Flag (2) is coming off a MSW win here over the mud on March 20. Ran off with that one. The race before, she ran up against a good one. Barn hits with .21% of those making the third start off a layup, and with .21% moving up to face winners for the first time, too. Barn broke the cold spell on Thursday. Go-to rider back in the saddle. Has a shot and the dirt experience. Evil Lyn (9) has been running against claimers, but she does have 3 wins under her girth, already. May make the lead. If she does? Watch out. I bet the 7-9 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 7-9 over/under the rest of the numbers in two smaller units.

9th: 2-9-4/6-7/5-1-3/8-12…Nifty (2) ran a huge one over the slop here last time out on March 20. That was the first start since June of 2019. In 7 career starts, this guy has 2 wins and 3 seconds. Has faced some heady competition, too. If he doesn’t bounce off the last effort, he should be fitter for this one. In 5 races here. One win. But 3 seconds. Hmmmm. Principe Guilherme (9) has always been blessed with talent. Started the career like a real good thing. Last time out, he won her over the mud and he did it closing with a rush at the end of the 6-furlong sprint. Was purchased out of that one by a barn that has won with .18% of the last 175 runners. Know their way to the circle. Good right now, too. Have to consider. Candy Cornell (4) is the ML favorite and goes for the Diodoro barn. Won last time out and loses that condition. But in 3 starts here, this one has a win and a second. Has speed. And, that is dangerous. I bet the 2-9 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over the 6-7 in a smaller unit.

10th: 2-9-11/8-1-3/4-6-10…Inshannity (2) is a first time starter for trainer Bob Baffert. This one cost $160,000 at the KEE September Yearling Sale in 2017. Now a 4YO, but is owned by the trainer’s wife. And, the filly is a daughter of the grand Ghostzapper. Has a grand future ahead as a broodmare prospect, if nothing else. But a win sure would look good on that catalogue page. Has been training well for the initial start. Look at the work at Santa Anita on March 29. Spot on. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 2 over/under the numbers listed in two smaller units.

Good Luck & All the Best / Gene