Category Archives: Oaklawn Park


Pioneerof The Nile is sharp for the San Felipe on Saturday. Photo from

Pioneerof The Nile is sharp for the San Felipe on Saturday. Photo from

This weekend the FOUR! Big Kentucky Derby Preps feature returning favorites and a few “bubble” horses who could jump onto the list in huge ways.


OLD FASHIONED looks to add another easy victory in Hot Springs.  Silver City comes back to challenge, but I think he’d be better sticking to sprints.  Poltergeist is also back after a lackluster performance in the Southwest, and though I hope he runs better this time, I don’t see him winning.  D.Wayne Lukas has Hamazing Destiny, a maiden winner, entered, and savvy players know you shouldn’t ignore a Lukas horse.  Old Fashioned’s owner, Rick Porter, chose to be at Oaklawn on Saturday instead of New Orleans, where he has Fresian Fire running in the Louisiana Derby.  I think he should make plans to dress for a winners’ circle photo.


This is the best betting race of the entire weekend:  a nice field of dangerously good colts.  FRESIAN FIRE has dominated the Fair Grounds and is the morning-line favorite.  IEAH’s Patena ran a great 2nd in the Risen Star and is the wiseguys’ pick.  Giant Oak has run well all winter and could be sitting on a huge race.  Then there is Terrain, making his first start of the year.  The Cali-shipper Papa Clem hopes to replicate I Want Revenge’s poly-to-dirt powerhousing, and I think he just might be able to do it.  He ran 2nd to Pioneerof The Nile in the Bob Lewis Stakes in only his 2nd start; he is by Smart Strike, a triple-threat sire whose get include turf champ English CHannel and repeat HOTY Curlin!  My tickets will have Freisan Fire and Papa Clem at the top.


Street Sense started his 2007 Derby-winning campaign in this race, where he nearly dead-heated with Any Given Saturday.  I don’t see anything like that happening this year, but still, this makes for an interesting Florida prep.  Hello Broadway is out from under Capt. Candyman Can and Quality Road and up against Sam F. Davis winner General QUarters.  Also stopping by is Zito-trained Nowhere To Hide, a son of Vindication who was 4th in the Risen Star.  I like Nowhere To Hide and General Quarters for this one.


Many of the horses PNILES has defeated have shipped out for dirt tracks, like I Want Revenge and Papa Clem.  Facing the Baffert trainee at Santa Anita are six colts praying for PNiles to have a bad day.  Jeranimo looks promising, and I would not ignore this maiden winner sired by Congaree.  Also New Bay and Feisty Suances…but really, PNiles is the big horse, hooves and shoulders above this group.  I kinda wish Bob had shipped him out to a dirt oval, just for some better competition.

And that’s The Infield March Madness !!

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Filed under Derby Prepes, Fairgrounds Race Course, Graded Stakes, Gulfstream Park, Handicapping, Kentucky Derby, Oaklawn Park, Santa Anita

Get In Line Early for the Corned Beef Sandwiches–OAKLAWN OPENS TOMORROW!!

It’s that time again, for weekend trips up to the Arkansas hill country for a dip in the Hot Springs bathhouses and afternoons at OAKLAWN PARK!

The traditional first Friday is Founders’ Day, and since the track is celebrating 105 years, the concessions will have prices from that past century: the famed corned beef sandwiches are only fifty cents and cokes are a dime!  And seriously, you get you money’s worth with the pile of beef they stack on the thick wheat bread slices.  I like mine with mustard, but a dab of mayo is fine, too.  Or even plain!   The lines for the sandwiches snake all around the grandstand, and the wait can be 30 minutes at least, but it is worth it for the great tips you get while chatting with the other players.  I hit a nice exacta the very first year I attended opening Friday after hearing about a John Servis colt making his debut that day.

The racing at Oaklawn is always competitive.  For the first card, all but one of the races is filled to 12 starters, and the one exception is the Dixieland Stakes with a solid field of 8 3yos.

I like Malibu Maverick and Dance Caller in the Dixieland.  

In the 1st race, I like Doctor EtbauerIndian Blossom in the 7th…and for the Elvis connection, Flaming Star in the 9th

Oaklawn promises to be a major stop on the Derby trail yet again.  With the proliferation of synthetic surfaces, many trainers are sending strings to Arkansas because of its traditional dirt surface, which the track management seems to keep in good condition.  Last year there were only 2-3 breakdowns for the entire 54 day meet.  Among those on the grounds is OLD FASHIONED, my top Derby pick.  He is probably going in the Southwest Stakes in Feb., but I am hoping he makes a start in the Rebel on March 14.  I plan on being there that day, for the next Infield Trip!

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Filed under Derby Prepes, Handicapping, Oaklawn Park