Day Results 10 / 3-1-6
2020 Overall 419 419 / 146-137-167
Win % of Top Pick 34.84%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall 35.80%
2020 Top Pick in the Money –260-419 62.05%
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 60-17-15-9 28.33% Win / 68.33% ITM

(Gene and Leigh at sunny Oaklawn Park earlier this year. Back when this obsolete thing called “spectators” were still allowed on the racetrack)

We are back.

After cashing the Pick 5 on Sunday, we picked up our head and we cashed a nice ticket. And, we are ready to begin this week’s handicapping puzzle with a renewed interest and confidence.

Here’s a look at Thursday’s card at the beautiful Oaklawn Park, parked on the hills of Hot Springs, ARK and close to the bath houses of downtown:

1st: 1/2-4-6/9-3-7…The first Key Play of the Day will come in the very first race of the day on Thursday. Turnstone (1) comes into this one off a solid second here on March 22 over a muddy track. Keep an eye on the forecast and the track condition, as you get started here. Forecast is for a chance of showers and thunderstorms in the early part of the day. In 3 tries over an “off track,” this one has a win and a second. Distance is a question mark here, though. Got a bit tired at the end of the last one. But the only two poor performances in this one’s career have been against open company. Back against Arkansas-bred today. My solid choice. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then key the 1 over/under the numbers listed. I will also key the 1 over/under the “all button” in two smaller versions, as well.

2nd: 9-7/1-10-3-4-2/6-5-(1A)-2B…Freedom Hill (9) gets the nod in this one. Will make the first start under the direction of a top barn operator, who has won with .24% of the last 1,488 starters. Winning with .22% of those getting blinkers for the first time, too and with .24% of those dropping into the claiming ranks for the first time, as well. Adds up for me, despite the fact that he is moving from Turf Paradise to the deeper waters of Oaklawn Park. Rider had won with .20% of the last 70 rides for this barn. Bajan Cash (7) will get the saddle from a super “cold” trainer right now. The barn — which is normally spot on in this locale — has won with only 1-of-21 starters here so far this meet. That’s way off from the .13% of the last 369 runners. This one will be dropping way back down the claiming ranks after being purchased for more two starts back. In 14 career starts here, has a 3-2-2 mark. Will be coming very late and will need some racing luck. I bet the 9-7 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I will key the 9-7 over/under the numbers listed in two smaller units.

3rd: 10-7-3/1-12/(14)-6-8/5-9…Thornish (10) is a condition that describes most of my life. LOL. But this 3YO Arkansas-bred looks to be very well spotted here today and the future today is more promising with the drop to a level where he nearly won at in the first two starts in the career. Gets the rider back, who has excelled with this one before. Jockey is 7-6-2 in the last 28 mounts here. Look for a return to relevancy in this spot. Macho Rocco (7) drops to a career low price tag here. Should wake up a bit with the drop to this level. Gets the apprentice rider up, and he did get some experience here last time out on April 3. Look for this one to be able to carry his speed a lot farther with the drop in class today. J’s Little Man (3) ran a solid 2nd here last time out on April 5. Has a second and a third in three starts over an “off track.” Can speed out there in the early stages if the rider so chooses. Look for more here out of this one today. I bet the 10-3 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. i will key the 10-3 over/under the 7-1-12-(14)-6-8-5-9 in two smaller units.

4th: 10/1-2-9/5-3-7/8-6-4…The next Key Play of the Day comes here with Moment (10). Drew the outside post, but this 4YO gelded son of Uncle Mo has a win and a 2nd in just two starts here and has 3 wins in 9 starts at this distance. Barn hits with .25% in the 2nd start off a layup and with .35% of those that drop in price after a win. Look for this one to sprint right to the front and play a game of “come catch me if you can.” I don’t think any of them can, to be honest. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then key the 10 over/under the numbers listed in two exactas. I will key the 10 over (only) the “all button,” as well.

5th: 12-8-(13)/4-7-2-1/9-10/6-3-11-5…I’ll go back outside in this one and land on Ahsad (12) in this spot. This 3YO son of Street Sense drops to the lowest price tag ever and he should be a bear at this level. Ran a couple of nice thirds back three and four starts ago against much, much better. Does stalk and rally and will need a little help late, but this one does have a second and a third over an off-track, in the past. Barn hits with .33% when dropping this much in one swoop. Take heed. Mo and Go (8) will be making the third start off a layup, and the barn hits with .25% of those kind. Will drop to the claiming ranks for the first time ever, too. Barn hits with .30% of them. Love the work here on April 16. Top move. The last race was a debacle, but that was the first try over a sloppy track. If it comes up wet again? Maybe pass. If dry and fast. May be a good option. I bet the 12-8 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 12-8 over/under the rest of the numbers listed in two smaller units.

6th: 10-9-(14)/4-11-3/2-(13)-6/7-1-12…The #10 appears to be a popular number for me today. I will go with the saddle cloth again here and Exultation (10). This 5YO son of Paynter comes in for trainer Peter Eurton — who is winning with .20% of the 15 starters here this meet. Nearly won against much, much tougher here two back. Barn has won with 2 out of 3 here that have dropped this much. This one returns as a beaten favorite, too, and the trainer scores with .12% of them. Will be interesting to watch the running style out of this one. Versatile type may be a bit closer to the pace today. I like that style best. Bump Bailey (9) has hit the board in each of the last 3 and 4 of the last 5. Gets back in the gate today for a trainer who has won with .14% of the 28 starters here this meet. But…take a look at the barn’s overall mark. In the 28 starts, has a 4-2-6 record. Horses running well and the barn hits with .27% when tacking up for a claiming event. I bet the 10-9 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the 10-9 over/under the rest of the numbers in two smaller units.

7th: 5-6/8-11-12/9-(14)-3/(13)-4-2-7…Courting a Kiss (5) drops off a tough outing last time out, but look at the record before that. Hit the board in the previous 6 tries and hard three wins in that mix. Look for a return to top ways today, with the regular rider getting the reins back. This one has 2 seconds in 3 tries here. Looks like will be pushing the pace from the get-go. Whiskey Echo (6) will be making the second start for the new barn after being claimed two races ago. Drops back to that price level today, and this son of Tiznow nearly won that day. This one was cut out to be a good one. Ran 2nd in the Ellis Park Juvenile as a 2YO in 2018. May be a good purchase if you are looking to claim one. Why not a try over the sod in this one’s future? I sure would give it a shot. I bet the 5-6 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I will key the 5-6 over/under the rest of the numbers in two smaller units.

8th: 3-2-4/10-9-1/5-6-8…Out of Trouble (3) goes for the barn of Brad Cox, who is winning with .21% of the 108 starters here this meet. Will be moving from the turf to the dirt. Barn hits with .27% making that surface switch. But? In 4 starts over a fast dirt track, this one has yet to hit the board. HMMMM. Has the pedigree to like the dirt and the work over at the Fair Grounds  on April 18 was solid. Price may be too low with the questions that abound. Crystal Lake (2) is my Upset Special of the Day. This one is 10-1 in the ML and the rider is really hot right now. Over the last week, the jockey has gone 3-0-1 in the last 6 starts. Two back, this one nearly won here over a muddy track. In 4 starts over this main track, has a second and two thirds. Like to see this one finish a little better. Seems to hang when it matters most. But could be a part of the exotics. Kiss More (4) ran a huge one when pushing really hot fractions last time out. Tired at the end of that one, but had a right to — after going that fast. With a little more relax on the throttle, this once could be a force in this spot today. I bet the 2-4 across the board (take note) and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over (only) the 10-9-1-5 in a smaller unit.

9th: 8-3-11/4-5-1-2/9-7-6…Auction Fever (8) gets the top spot in today’s finale. This one drops in class after winning the last two outs here. Has the perfect stalking style that seems to do so well over this track. Rider is having a solid meet and has won with .50% of his rides for this barn. I look for this one to be right in the mix late again today. Raggedy Annie (3) — who is owned by the Churchill Downs Racing Club and is trained by Coach D. Wayne Lukas — will be the popular choice in here. This 3YO daughter of Union Rags should be the one to beat, too. She likes to close and likes an “off track,” too. But she is consistent and I love that trait. Over the last 5 starts, she has been off the board only once. Look for her to be rallying late. The stretch out from the sprint to the route should be no issue with this pedigree, either. Magine (11) comes from the barn of Tom Amoss, who is having a solid meet and another fine year. This one has 3 wins already on the career ledger and I love the fact that she is facing others that have not been to the winner’s circle that much, yet. First time at a route, but the barn wins with .22% of those. Rider returns off a win with this one last out. Moves up in class. But seems good right now, too. I bet the 8-3 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 8-3 over/under the 11-4-5-1-2-9 in two smaller units.

Good Luck & All the Best / Gene