Oaklawn opening day and their first Triple Crown prep. Unfortunately this is a poor field with likely zero impact on the actual Kentucky Derby.
First of all this is the first time I can ever remember seeing two "K" horses in the same race which suggests this is very much a 2-horse race. The pace of the race appears honest with Moonlite Strike and Hardly Swayed likely trying to apply pressure on Caddo River. But Caddo River is much quicker than those two and will secure an easy lead. With the finish line at the 1/16th pole Caddo River becomes the likely winner.
#1 - Martini Blu. Steps us from 7F easy maiden win at Hawthorne for good connections and is eligible to improve (form cycle 23). Should get a stalking ground saving trip and is the main upset threat. Horse drops Lasix which is an unknown risk element.
#2 - Lawlessness. Beaten in 3rd start in Hawthorne 6F sprint allowance race in slow time (poor Energy). Adds blinkers which could lead to improvement but not enough to make presence felt. Slow workouts at OP and also drops Lasix.
#3 - Cowan. Clear class horse in the field. Horse was soundly beat in 2nd lifetime start when stretched out to 7F. Connections shifted gears moving horse to grass sprinting with the BC Juvenile Sprint the end goal. Horse performed very well and took 2nd at 11-1 in BC race (was my bet to win). They put horse back on dirt in Springboard Mile where he ran a good second 3 3/4 lengths ahead of 3rd but well beaten by Senor Buscador. His Energy score dipped and I don't think this horse wants 8F. Still connections are superb and horse will be running late. Horse did fire a :59.1 bullet workout which is unusual for Asmussen. Most likely takes 2nd and a threat to win.
#4 - Big Thorn. Horse disappointed in Mucho Macho stakes which is likely a tougher race than this one. Owners switch horse to Asmussen who has not worked the horse out (just diet & veterinary changes). Will watch and see but don't think this is a threat to top two horses. Note Asmussen/Cabrera are flat bet profitable together over large sample.
#5 - Hardly Swayed. Winner of 2 straight at Mahoning Valley against much weaker and in slow time. Horse drop Lasix and will try to run early but will fade badly late.
#6 - Moonlite Strike. Broke maiden sprinting at Calder in slop and then stretched out to 8F for another win in at GP. Second win impressive but horse was tiring late (in a speed duel that race) and held on by only a head. Horse will likely be running hard early again today and should tire late. Could still hit the board.
#7 - Caddo River. Expect this horse to go off at odds-on favorite with Cox/Geroux. Horse took 2nd in first two starts and then won a 1-turn mile race at CD in fast time at 3-10. Horse was not favored in both losses so think this horse faced a weak field that day. Faces tougher today and going 2 turns for first time. This is most likely winner but will be a big underlay.
Bottom line: This is a chalky race with the horses sorted top to bottom on sheet in order of odds. Caddo River should get an easy lead (although pace will still be quick) and with short stretch should hold on for victory. Watch how track is playing early in day to see if chance for upset exists. The main threat comes from Cowan who should be closing strongly but this is not his ideal distance and the stretch is short. Might be best bet in race if odds drift up. Martini Blu is where the value in the race is if you play exactas or trifectas. Good luck!