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 Etbauer…Indian 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!