Decoding the Handicapper’s Challenge: Deep Oaklawn Handicap Explained

The Highly Competitive Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap

Saturday’s Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap is shaping up to be a fiercely competitive race, with a field of eight older horses that are all strong contenders. The level of competition is evident in the fact that six of the horses are listed at 8/1 or better on the morning line, and five of them are graded stakes winners. Additionally, three of the horses in this field are millionaires, and two of them boast Grade 1 titles. Their combined record showcases an impressive 50 victories, with every horse except for 9-year-old Rated R Superstar finishing in the money in at least 50% of their starts. Even the seasoned gelding, Rated R Superstar, just missed that mark, hitting the board 49% of the time in 59 starts. There’s no denying that the Oaklawn Handicap is a tricky, anything-goes race for horseplayers.

Fearless Emerges as the Favorite

As is customary, there has to be a favorite, and that honor goes to Todd Pletcher’s Fearless, who is listed as the 9/5 morning line favorite. Fearless comes into the race off a remarkable six-length victory in the Grade 3 Ghostzapper Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Last year in this very race, he came incredibly close to securing his first Grade 1 victory, narrowly losing to Silver State. This time, Fearless has made the journey from Pletcher’s Florida base to compete at Oaklawn Park. However, there is also plenty of local talent in the race, with a strong contender in Plainsman (5/2). This 7-year-old stallion is expected to make his final start at Oaklawn Park, having already claimed victory in the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap this February and finishing second to Rated R Superstar in the Grade 3 Essex Stakes just five weeks later. Plainsman, one of the three millionaires in the field, has earned over $1.3 million and now seeks his first Grade 2 title.

Thomas Shelby and Rated R Superstar within Familiar Territory

Plainsman will come face-to-face with a familiar rival in Rated R Superstar (5/1), who has already notched two stakes victories this year at Oaklawn Park, winning the Essex Stakes and the Fifth Season Stakes in January. Another horse they are both acquainted with is Thomas Shelby (8/1), who is in search of his first stakes win. Thomas Shelby has been in contention throughout the Oaklawn Park season, with notable performances including a second-place finish in the Tinsel Stakes, a third-place finish in the Fifth Season Stakes, a runner-up in the Razorback Handicap, and a fourth-place finish in the Essex Stakes. Trainer Robertino Diodoro believes that Thomas Shelby is ready to claim a victory, especially at the slightly longer distance of a mile and an eighth.

Grade 1 Winners Bring Their A-Game

The field for the Oaklawn Handicap also features two Grade 1 winners, Idol (6/1) and Super Stock (10/1). Idol, who hails from California, recently made a comeback after battling hind-end issues that limited him to just seven lifetime starts. Despite this setback, Idol showcased his potential in an impressive victory in the 2021 Santa Anita Handicap, defeating Express Train in a thrilling finish. Trained by Richard Baltas, Idol has opted to compete in the Oaklawn Handicap, bypassing other graded races at Keeneland, Santa Anita, and Churchill Downs. Baltas expects Idol to settle just behind the frontrunners and use his powerful late kick to make an impact in the race.

Super Stock, the winner of last year’s Arkansas Derby in a surprise upset, is another notable contender. Unfortunately, the start of 2022 has not been kind to Super Stock, as he has yet to secure a victory. His only notable finish was an eighth-place in the Razorback Handicap and a fourth-place in the Grade 2 New Orleans Classic at Fair Grounds. However, Super Stock’s Arkansas Derby triumph showcases his potential for success, making him a horse to watch closely in this competitive field.

The Complete Field and Morning Line Odds

Here is the full lineup for the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap, along with their respective morning line odds:

  • Beau Luminarie, 12/1 (Florent Geroux/Rodolphe Brisset)
  • Thomas Shelby, 8/1 (David Cohen/Robertino Diodoro)
  • Last Samurai, 8/1 (Jon Court/Dallas Stewart)
  • Idol, 6/1 (Ramon Vazquez/Richard Baltas)
  • Rated R Superstar, 5/1 (Ricardo Santana Jr./Federico Villafranco)
  • Plainsman, 5/2 (Joel Rosario/Brad Cox)
  • Super Stock, 10/1 (Isaac Castillo/Steve Asmussen)
  • Fearless, 9/5 (Jose Ortiz/Todd Pletcher)

In Conclusion

The Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap promises to be an exhilarating race, with a field filled with talented horses vying for victory. The competitive nature of the field is evident, with multiple graded stakes winners and millionaires seeking to claim the prestigious Grade 2 title. Fearless, with his impressive recent form, emerges as the morning line favorite, but there are many worthy contenders, including local favorite Plainsman and the experienced Rated R Superstar. The presence of Grade 1 winners Idol and Super Stock adds another layer of excitement to the race. Horse racing enthusiasts should brace themselves for an intense battle as these magnificent athletes vie for the winner’s circle.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the distance of the Oaklawn Handicap?

The Oaklawn Handicap is run at a distance of 1 1/8 miles.

2. How many horses are competing in the Oaklawn Handicap?

There are eight horses in the field for the Oaklawn Handicap.

3. Who is the morning line favorite for the Oaklawn Handicap?

Todd Pletcher’s Fearless is the morning line favorite at odds of 9/5.

4. Are there any Grade 1 winners in the field?

Yes, Idol and Super Stock are both Grade 1 winners competing in the Oaklawn Handicap.

5. Which horse has the highest earnings in the field?

Plainsman, with over $1.3 million in earnings, is the highest-earning horse in the Oaklawn Handicap field.

Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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