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Jan 10, 2014

AMERICAN TURF CLUB-OAKLAWN 2014

By: JOE GIRARDI


Oaklawn will open for the 2014 live racing season Friday, Jan. 10 and the 57-day meet will continue every Thursday - Sunday through Saturday, April 12. Oaklawn will also have live racing on Monday, January 20, Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Monday, February 17, President's Day.   

The first graded stakes of the meeting will be the Grade III Southwest stakes on February 17th. It is a race for three year olds run over 1 and 1/16th miles with a purse of $300,000. As it has been in years past, Oaklawn is the landing spot of some of the top three year olds trying to get on the Kentucky Derby trail. The next graded stakes is a few weeks later when they host three year old fillies in the Grade III Honeybee stakes, a race for three year old fillies, run over 1 and 1/16th miles with a purse of $150,000.

The following week on March 15th, there will be three graded stakes races. The Grade III Razorback for four year olds and upward, run over 1 and 1/16th miles with a purse of $200,000. The Grade III Azeri stakes is for four year old and upward fillies and mares also run over 1 and 1/16th miles with a purse of $200,000. The Grade II Rebel stakes will also be run on that day, the second race for three year olds trying to get to the Kentucky Derby. It is for three year olds, run over 1 and 1/16th miles with a purse of $600,000.

The next graded stakes race will be on April 5th when they host the Grade III Fantasy Stakes, a race for three year old fillies to be contested at the distance of 1 and 1/16th miles and it will carry a purse of $400,000. A couple of days later on April 10th Oaklawn will host the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap, a Grade III for four year olds and upward run over six furlongs with a purse of $300,000. Some of the country’s top sprinters will show up here to compete in this event.

The next day, on April 11th, the Grade I Apple Blossom will be run for four year olds and upward for fillies and mares run over 1 and 1/16th miles with a hefty purse of $500,000. Finally on closing day April 12th there will be two graded stakes races. The Grade II Oaklawn handicap for four year olds and upward, run over 1 and 1/8th miles with a purse of $500,000 will be sure to attract some of the country’s top handicap horses. On that same day, the highlight of the meeting, the Grade I Arkansas Derby, for three year olds at 1 and 1/8th miles carrying a purse of $1 million dollars. This race always draws top three year olds and is one of the races to look at when playing the Kentucky Derby a few weeks later.

When Oaklawn park at the windows let us take a look at some of the jockey and trainer standings. The leading jockey at last year’s meeting was Ricardo Santana Jr. who had 70 wins and a winning percentage of 24%. He was an easy winner over Robby Albarado with 46 and Alex Birzer checked in third with 40 wins. Santana is the main rider for top trainer Steve Asmussen so expect him to have another solid meeting but when looking for value you may have to look elsewhere. Rafael Bejarano, a top rider in California was 4 for 8 at last year’s meeting made his trips worthwhile shipping into Oaklawn. However, he is another who will take plenty of tote action. Seth Martinez, had a very solid meeting with 6 wins from 24 starts, a winning percentage of 25%. Cliff Berry, who finished fifth last year in terms of wins with 29 had a solid in the money percentage of 41% and is a top rider in his own right, look for a solid meeting out of him. Calvin Borel, who had 13 winners last year from only 84 starts, had a winning percentage of 15% and an in the money percentage of 45%. He is coming off an injury and look for him to come out riding well early on as he tries to get back on track.

On the trainers side of things last year’s leading trainer was Steve Asmussen who had 37 wins with a solid winning percentage of 23%. The second place trainer was McLean Robertson who had 28 wins also finished with a winning percentage of 23%. His in the money percentage was a very solid 58%. When looking elsewhere to some of the trainers that weren’t in the top 5 let us take a look at Chris Hartman, a very solid trainer who had 16 wins from 77 starters with a winning percentage of 21%. He is a very solid trainer and maybe one you can grab a square mutuel once in a while. Brad Cox, is another trainer that had a solid meeting with 12 wins but a winning percentage of 29% and an in the money percentage of 57%. A trainer that may fly under the radar could be Gary Hartlage who had only 6 wins but from just 28 starters, his winning percentage was a solid 21% and an in the money percentage of 46%. One more trainer to take a look at is Tim Glyshaw, although he only had 2 wins from 23 starters with a winning percentage of 9%, however, his in the money percentage shot all the way up to 61%, using his starters underneath in exactas, triples and superfectas may help you catch a large exotic bet.

 



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