Horse Racing Picks for Saturday, April 25: Best Bets for Oaklawn Park
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The action at Oaklawn Park kicks off at 1:35 p.m. ET, but I’ll be focusing on the late Pick-5 sequence starting with Race 7 at 4:42 p.m. ET. There are two non-graded stakes races in this sequence and both have G1 winners in the field.
There seems to be a few vulnerable favorites on the card and that should offer us the chance at a great score. Let’s dig in.
Time: 4:42 p.m. ET
This was a tough race to handicap because it doesn’t seem like any of these horses want to win. I looked over this race twice last night and then again a few times this morning to try and find the winner. In the end, it was more process of elimination than having a strong opinion so if you can afford it, you may want to go deep as possible for the Pick 5.
My top pick in here goes to No. 7 Candy Store (9-2). This will be his second start for trainer Tom Amoss, who is 40% second off the claim. Candy Store will also enjoy some class relief as he’s dropping back into the claiming ranks after trying allowance company last time out. His speed figures from his last race are tied for the best in this field and he has the best back speed. My biggest concern is that he’s never won over a fast main track, having three seconds and one third from 6 starts.
No. 2 Tapsolute (8-1) is the other horse that I’m using. He hasn’t seen the winners circle since 2018, but this will be his third start off the layoff for trainer McLean Robertson. Robertson wins 23% of his races in this spot. Tapsolute has continued to improve in both of his starts this year and if he continues to move forward he will have a chance in here at a nice price.
Time: 5:14 p.m. ET
We will start towards the outside with No. 9 Bye Bye J (4-1). Trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Ricardo Santana, Bye Bye J is coming in off a win in a state-bred, non-graded stakes race. She loves Oaklawn, as evidenced by her three wins from four career starts.
Overall, Bye Bye J has five wins, one second and one third from nine career starts. One thing I don’t like is that she’s never won back-to-back starts. Asmussen is 22% when winning last time out and he and Santana are 21% together in the last 60 days. Bye Bye J is my top pick.
Just to her inside, No. 8 Ready to Runaway (6-1) is the other horse that interests me. She has five wins, three seconds and two thirds from 10 career starts. In her last race she was passed in the deep stretch after setting the pace early, but was able to hold on for second. That was her first start off the layoff and I expect that she will be sharper today.
Her competitive nature, never missing the board, and with it being her second start off the layoff are the reasons I’m including her.
Time: 5:45 p.m. ET
The first of the two non-graded stakes races is headlined by a Kentucky Derby contender, No. 7 Eight Rings (5-2). We haven’t seen the son of Empire Maker since his disappointing sixth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita, but Oaklawn is trainer Bob Baffert’s home away from home. Baffert is winning at 56% during the meet and 31% when his horse is shipping in.
Eight Rings has shown up in the morning workout tab since the beginning of February. Four of those workouts have been bullets, so he should be ready for his three-year-old debut. With it being his first start off the layoff and of his three-year-old season, I’m including him, but he’s not my top pick.
No. 3 Echo Town (9-2) is my top pick in this field. He has two wins and one third from three career starts. He’s also been a model of consistency putting up mid-90 speed figures in all three starts. During the meet, the winner of 6 furlong races, on average, sits 2.2 lengths behind the leader at first call and 1.4 lengths at second call. In both of his wins, Echo Town was able to sit just off the pace, driving clear late. His stalking style should set him up perfectly in this spot.
The other horse that I’m including is No. 9 Long Weekend (3-1). Trained by Tom Amoss and ridden by Joe Talamo, he has three wins from four career starts. This will be the first time in his career that he’s raced at the same track twice. Last out, he won easily by 4 3/4 lengths right here at Oaklawn.
Long Weekend is definitely going to want the lead as all three wins have come in front-running style. His post position sets him up nicely as he won’t have to deal with traffic. If he’s able to get away clean and get the lead, watch out.
Time: 6:16 p.m. ET
The other non-graded stakes race two Grade 1 winners in No. 1 Bellafina (8-5) and No. 8 Mia Mischief (9-2). One of them is my top pick and I’m betting against the other one.
Let’s start at the inside with No. 1 Bellafina. While she hasn’t seen the winner’s circle in over a year, she is getting serious class relief after running in six straight G1 races. She has six wins, three seconds and one third from 13 career starts. All six wins have come in the state of California and her best finish outside of The Golden State was a third-place finish at Saratoga. While she’s clearly the class of the race, I’m betting against Bellafina in this spot.
That means that No. 8 Mia Mischief is my top pick. She is a horse for the course with three wins and two seconds from five starts at Oaklawn. She is also a distance specialist having six wins, four seconds and one third from 12 starts at 6 furlongs.
This will be Mia Mischief’s second start off the layoff and second start of her five-year-old season. Her last race was intended to freshen her up and she won easily by 2 1/4 lengths. Because of of her record at the track and the distance, plus her having a start under her belt this year, she gets the nod as my top pick.
No. 2 Midnight Fantasy (5-1) was also intriguing. She is trained by Joe Sharp and will have Martin Garcia in the irons. She has five wins and three seconds from 12 starts throughout her career and in her last time out she won against non-graded stakes company right here at Oaklawn.
Sharp is 20% when winning last time out and he and Garcia are 29% when teaming up in the last 60 days. At the price, I’m including her in my ticket.
Time: 6:47 p.m. ET
The last race of the day is a maiden special weight for three year olds and up. Every horse in the field has a start, which is rare for a maiden special weight race.
The favorite is No. 4 Unrighteous (5-2) for trainer Todd Pletcher. In his last start he faced graded-stakes company in the Tampa Bay Derby and finished a dismal seventh by 12 lengths. While he was facing winners and clearly much tougher competition, he was never a factor and didn’t show anything. I’m betting against him in this spot.
No. 1 Copper King (7-2) is my top choice for the finale. Winchell Thoroughbreds paid $625K for this son of Medaglia d’Oro at the Keeneland September 2017 sale. In two of his last three starts he was clearly second best and in the other start, he ran into traffic on the second turn that he couldn’t overcome. He will need to overcome the post position, but he’s been competitive in every start.
Another horse of interest to me was No. 6 Aztec Empire (5-1). This son of Tapit has hit the board in three of his four career starts. He’s trained by Ron Moquett who is 24% when he was beaten as the favorite in his last start, which Aztec Empire was. His competitive running style and the fact that he gets one of the meets top jocks in Joe Talamo are the reasons I’m including him.
I couldn’t move off of No. 9 Ronamo (10-1) as a long shot play in here. He is stepping up in class after racing maiden claimers in his last four starts, but he’s been so close in each, finishing second in all four by a combined three lengths.
His late kick should serve him well in here so I’m going to include him at the price.
Bets for Saturday, April 25 at Oaklawn Park
- Pick 5: 2,7/8,9/3,7,9/2,8/1,6,9
- Win: 9
- Exacta Box: 8,9
- Double: 8,9/3
- Win: 3
- Pick 3: 3/2,8/1,6,9
- Win: 8
- Race 11
- Exacta Box: 1,6,9