By Vinny from Real Dynasty Picks (@PicksByDynasty on Twitter)
Oaklawn photos by @Rblifeisgood
The Arkansas Derby is my favorite of all the Kentucky Derby prep races. Over the years we have seen the Arkansas Derby produce horses such as Victory Gallop and Bodemeister who both later finished 2nd in the Kentucky Derby, to Curlin and Afleet Alex who both finished 3rd in the Kentucky Derby before winning the Preakness, to Smarty Jones who was just 1 furlong away from the Triple Crown, to American Pharoah who needs no explanation. This year’s edition of the Arkansas Derby is led by Magnum Moon, one of the Todd Pletcher Trio currently heading to Chuchill Downs on the first Saturday in May, but he faces his toughest challengers yet including Quip, the winner of the Tampa Bay Derby, and Tenfold, a Winchell Thoroughbreds homebread sired by Curlin. This is the last prep races before some of these horses are Kentucky Derby bound and it is time to see who goes in with the momentum of a G1 win.
Race 1 -5,8,9
(5) Twist Off was the beaten favorite last time out, but was part of the pace, then battled back in the stretch and just missed by a 1/2 length. He has shown improvement in all 3 starts in 2018 so far and with a few races over this track already he is hard not to like in this spot. Also If the track wet for this one, Curlin is a great wet track sire.
(8) Lionite just never seems to be the best horse in the race. He is a beaten favorite twice in his career including his 3 year old debut in February. Could he win here? Yes he could, but at Morning Line of 2-1, I think it is too short of a price to use on top.
(9) I’ve Got Heart should appreciate the extra ground today, and gets a big jockey upgrade to Gary Stevens. Doug Anderson has not had the best of Oaklawn meets however at just 4%, so taking this one on top might be a risk, but looks like a solid value play for exotic wagers.
Potential wagers for Race 1: $10 Win: 5
$2 Trifecta: 5/8,9/All ($28 total)
$0.50 Pick 4: 5,8/3,6/4,7/5,6 ($8 Total)
Race 2 – 6,9,3
I’ve never been the biggest fan of (6) Switzerland, who has been a beaten favorite in 5 of his 9 career starts, but this spot is almost too good to be true. He appears to be lone speed when really looking studying this race as the (7) Adens Dream does not appear to want the early lead, and the (10) Sevier just does not seem fast enough to keep up early. 3-1 Morning Line is a fair price to take play Switzerland on top, but be cautious as he is a known money burner.
(9) Long Station has finished in the money in 15 of 18 career races here at Oaklawn Park, only issue with him is that he does not like to win. 13 of those in the money finishes have been 2nd or 3rd’s, but at 8-1 Morning Line he is a very live play for exotic wagers that should provide value.
(3) Pete’s Play Call has finished in the money is 9 of his last 10 starts including a win last time out here at Oaklawn Park over Long Station. If someone can give solid pressure to Switzerland early, Pete’s Play Call should be dangerous late.
Potential wagers for Race 2: $5 Exacta 6,3/9 ($10 Total)
Race 3 -4,7,6
(4) The Money Dance finished in front of my top pick from race 1 Twist Off last time out, so keep an eye on how Twist Off runs. He is cutting back in distance which by his pedigree he should appreciate. If he runs back to his effort on March 17th where he finished 2nd, he will have no issues beating this bunch.
(7) Possibilitarian is going to be over bet again based on his only career race. Yes he ran a solid 2nd and was making up some ground late, but was still beat as the favorite and at 9/5 Morning Line in a Maiden Special Weight, I will take my chances playing against on top. I would use him in multi race tickets still as a saver as I think he is much better than a majority of this field.
(6) Alexandros has not raced yet as a 3 year old, but appreciated the added distance back in September and with his pedigree we should see an improvement from his 2 year old form to 3 year old. If you aren’t high on the top 2 in here, Alexandros will have value and gets Luis Saez in the Irons which is never a negative.
Potential wagers for Race 3: $5 Exacta Box 4/7 ($10 Total)
$5 Double 4/5,6 ($10 Total)
Race 4- 6,5,10
(6) Lily Sofia has a few very sharp workouts and being sired by Tiznow I’ll take a shot with this one if the track has some moisture on it. Yes she is a first time starter, but has multiple bullet works and at this 6F she is worth the risk at 12-1 Morning Line.
(5) Kalalou has just missed in both of her career starts, both at this distance, both at Oaklawn Park. Her pedigree says she wants to go farther than this 6F distance which is why I am willing to play against her on top at a short price. She does add blinkers today which by her 2 races should help her here today. If she does stay around her Morning Line of 5-2 she is worth playing on top, but looking at this field she will likely be bet down and anything lower than 2-1 on her and I will try and beat. I would keep her on Multi race and exotic wagers no matter her odds though.
(10) Zippy Lou closed in her debut race to finish 2nd, but was very wide in that field and today starting from the 10 post is not going to help improve that. She is looking at another wide trip today so I would use her underneath on exotic wagers, but I would be cautious if you are using her on top as she will probably run the farthest overall distance in this race.
Potential wagers for Race 4: $5 Exacta Box 5/6 ($10 Total)
$5 Win/Place/Show 6 ($15 Total)
Race 5- 6,9,8
(6) Treble has improved in all 3 start in 2018 and with the Ron Moquett/Stantana Jr combo being hot over the last 2 weeks, I am taking Treble on top here. If the track is wet, she has 2 solid wet track starts this year and broke her maiden here at Oaklawn on a wet track.
(9) The Craic sat right off Vilaro’s pace last time out in her Oaklawn debut and she got the job done. Today the pace in this race should play out similar so I am keeping her on my tickets. She is coming off a 2 month layoff and is changing jockey’s which I am not crazy about but that is not enough to get me to toss her here.
(8) Vilaro should be the pace here and she will play “catch me if you can” with this field. While she is only 1 for 3 this year doing this, she has been able to hangon for a piece in her other two starts which at 10-1 Morning Line makes her a solid choice for exotic wagers.
Potential wagers for Race 5: $10 Win 6
$.050 Pick 3: 6/2,6,10/All
Race 6 – 10,6,2
(10) Will’s Pioneer should improve off his debut 2nd place finish on March 22nd. He set a 21.3 opening 1/4 and still huge on for 2nd. He has worked twice since that race and appears to have put on muscle which is always good. His pedigree suggests he probably wants to go longer, but breaking from post 10 he should run a bit farther than most here. Luis Saez is also in the Iron’s today and I think we will be lucky to see the Morning Line of 4-1 on this one.
(6) Soaring Bird had a troubled start last time out and was a non factor in the race that (10) Will’s Pioneer finished 2nd in, but his prior 2 starts before that were much better than the Morning Line of 10-1 is giving him credit for. He was 2nd twice including a 2nd to Mitole who right now is the best 3 year old sprinter in the country. If Soaring Bird gets a clean start today he should be a player in here with solid value. He also is upgrading in Jockey to Florent Geroux today.
(2) Firehorn sat off the pace in his debut and made up ground late to finish 2nd. He will need to improve on that effort to factor here today, but does have a sneaky good pedigree for this distance so an improvement is not out of the question. Jockey David Cabrera has been hot over the past week with 8 wins in 31 starts (25%) so keeping this one on my tickets just in case.
Potential wagers for Race 6: $5 W/P 10 ($10 Total)
$5 Exacta Box 2,6,10 ($30 Total)
Race 7 – 2,9,10
(2) Bold Prophet consistently has run the most consistent for the horses entered here finishing in the money in 8 of 9 career races, but does only have 1 career win. He does get a Jockey upgrade today to Luis Saez, but I would be cautious playing anyone at a short price in this field.
(9) Super Derecho finished right behind (2) Bold Prophet last time out and with his tactical speed I see no reason that he should not be a player in here. He did run his best career race on a wet going which if the track is wet today makes him that much more likable.
(10) Pontastic is a closer and should get a solid pace here to try and close on so taking a shot that he can get up for a piece. He is 9 for 21 in the money and has been within 2 lengths of the winner in both starts so far in 2018. Do I think he can win? Probably not, but these are the type of races that tend to add value to multi race ticket payouts so using him here.
Potential wagers for Race 7: $5 Win 2
$5 Show 10
Race 8 -7,3,1
(7) Ego Trip beat our top pick in Race 1 Twist off, and our top pick in Race 3 The Money Dance last time out and he looked good doing it. The improvement he made from his first start to his 2nd was huge, and another improvement today Ego Trip could be one of those “Late Blooming” 3 year old’s that everyone is talking about.
(3) Higher Power had a bad start in the Rebel which took him out of the race completely. Today he is dropping down in class as their is no Magnum Moon in this field, but there are a few in here who are dropping in out of the Rebel so he will need his A race to beat this bunch, but at 8-1 Morning Line he is well worth the risk of being on your tickets.
(1) Title Ready outran his odds in the Rebel and gets to break from the inside again today. He did lose the lead as they turned for home in the Rebel, but was game enough to stay on for 4th. His pedigree tells me he doesn’t want to go much farther than this 1-1/16th distance, so with Title Ready being the likely heavy favorite, I am going to try and beat him, but will use as a saver on Multi Race tickets.
Potential wagers for Race 8: $5 Win/Place 7 ($10 Total)
$5 Double 3,7/4
$.50 Pick 4 1,3,7 / 4/4,5,7,10,11/3,5,6,8,9 ($37.50 Total)
Race 9 – 4
(4) Whitmore is the class of this field and should improve off his 5 year old debut win last time out here at Oaklawn. This is a small field and Whitmore has won his last 4 races here at Oaklawn Park. I am using him as my single on my Multi Race tickets, and if Double prices are right I will use him there too.
Potential wagers for Race 9: $10 Win 4
Race 10 -10,7,11
(10) Accelerate is making his first career start outside of California, and with Victor Espinoza shipping in with him I think he will be very tough to beat here. He is has started 2018 with a G1 and G2 wins and with West Coast finishing 2nd in the Dubai World Cup, Accelerate has a chance to make move up in the rankings for the top older colt here today.
(7) Hedge Fund ran a huge race back on March 17th here at Oaklawn where he lost the lead at the top of the stretch but battled back to win. He does lose Jose Ortiz though who had ridden him to 2 straight wins, but he does pick up Geroux which is not a bad trade off. If he is sent to the lead and tries to run with the City of Light he will be in trouble, but if he can stalk the pace today he will be dangerous.
(11) City of Light is stretching out today and shipping in from California like Accelerate. He is coming off a big score in the G1 Triple Bend but today faces much tougher. His pedigree is on the boarder line of being able to get this distance which is why I have him underneath, but if he can get out by himself and slow the pace down a bit there is a chance he goes gate to wire.
Potential wagers for Race 10: $5 Exacta 10/7,11 ($10 total)
Race 11: 6,3,5
(6) Magnum Moon has done nothing but impress me since his G2 Rebel win and personally I think he is the best of the Pletcher horses that are heading to the Kentucky Derby. Watching Magnum Moon on the track in the mornings, this horse looks like a winner and has put on weight since his Rebel win. He will need another A race to beat this field and they might not empty the tank as he already has the points to run in the Derby, but I would be shocked if he was not in a position to win close to home.
(3) Tenfold is moving up in class, but has a top notch pedigree with big time connections. He should improve with the bit of added distance today, but in only his 3rd start this is asking a lot, especially against this field. He does have tactical speed though and if Solomini is not sent to the lead early, Tenfold could be the controlling pace and with Victor in the Irons that is too dangerous not to use if you think Magnum Moon is beatable.
(5) Solomini has been my favorite horse in this class since last year and it pains me not to use him on top in this spot, but mentally he is just too green right now. His potential is sky high as he has never missed the money in 4 career stakes races, but between his recent works, and getting beat in the Rebel, he is hard to use on top. He does have an excuse in the Rebel that he had to change lanes entering the stretch, but even with a clean trip, I do not think he catches Magnum Moon there.
Potential wagers for Race 11: $5 Trifecta 6/3,5,8,9/3,5,8,9 ($30 Total)
Race 12 – 1/1A,9,6
The 1/1A entry consisting of (1) Runningunningrascal and (1A) Jonny’s Choice look tough here in his 1-3/4 long race. Both have shown tactical speed, and Runningunningrascal has shown the ability to close. They are both moving up in class today, but this isn’t exactly a top notch field so if they stay around 4-1 I will take a risk.
(9) Affirming has won 4 of 5 including 2 in a row, but both of these have been on turf. He has won on dirt in the past with numbers that make him dangerous in this field and gets a jockey upgrade to Santana Jr, but the distance is a huge question mark with the pedigree so keeping this one underneath on my tickets.
(6) Moon Gate Warrior is coming off a win, and is stretching out which based on the pedigree should not be a huge deal. Trainer Randy Morse is only 7% this meet which is a red flag here which is why I placed Moon Gate Warrior underneath. He has also never been able to put together 2 quality races in a row and as a now 5 year old and at a short Morning Line price, I do not think it is worth the risk on top for a new trend to start with this one.
Potential wagers for Race 12: $10 Win 1/1A