Horse Racing Picks for Friday, April 3: Best Value Bets for Oaklawn Park

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Photo credit: Wesley Hitt, Getty Images

I’m going to focus on the late Pick 4 sequence at Oaklawn Park on Friday. Oaklawn is known for having deep fields due to its above-average purse sizes and that typically gives us, the bettors, good opportunities to find value and make money.

Let’s dive into the Pick 4:


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Race 6

4:36 p.m. ET

The sequence starts in Race 6 which is a $25K claiming event at the distance of 1 1/16 miles for four-year-olds and up. It’s a 12-horse field with a lukewarm 7-2 morning-line favorite, No. 8 Hardly a Secret, who is dropping in class after a win in a $32K claiming event a week ago.

He’s always a horse who is well-bet and has three wins, one second and two thirds from seven career starts at Oaklawn — he’s definitely a horse for the course. He’s trained by Chris Hartman who is winning at 17% when his horse won their last race. And while Hardly a Secret gets one of the meets top jocks, I don’t like the fact that he’s coming back off a week’s rest. I’m going to include him, but he’s not my top pick in here.

Just to his outside is No. 9 Moment (5-1), who is trained by the red hot Robertino Diodoro and ridden by David Cohen. Diodoro is winning at a 29% clip during the meet and he and Cohen have teamed up 66 times in the last 60 days with a 32% winning percentage. This is the first start for Moment after he was claimed back in January from the Brad Cox barn. In that race he finished second only by a length.

Moment’s speed figure in that race is one of the best in this field. With him coming in off a layoff, the trainer/jockey combo and the fact that the Diodoro barn wins 24% of the time first after the claim and 23% of the time after a layoff, Moment is my top pick for Race 6.

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Race 7

5:06 p.m. ET

Race 7 is a 5 1/2 furlong $50K allowance race for fillies and mares three-years-old and up. It’s a nine-horse field with No. 4 Summer Storm (2-1) as the susceptible morning-line favorite. She has had three starts since a long layoff and a barn change. This will be Summer Storm’s fourth start after an eight-month layoff. She hasn’t seemed to have much in any of her previous three starts, always finishing towards the back of the pack. Additionally, her speed figures have dropped significantly since her more competitive days last spring. I’m playing to beat Summer Storm in this spot.

No. 3 Jewel Thief (3-1) is going to be happy to see that rival Misty Blue is not running in this race today. Jewel Thief finished second to Misty Blue is both of her last two starts. This will be her third start for trainer Brad Cox whose winning percentage is 29% third off the layoff. She was also the post-time favorite last out and Cox’s winning percentage is 30% when beaten as the favorite last time out. She also gets one of the meets top jockeys in Joseph Talamo. Cox and Talamo have teamed up 39 times in the last 60 days, winning at a 28% clip. She’s my top pick in here.

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The other horse that is of interest to me is No. 7 Fully Aware (7-2). She’s coming in off a score in her debut back in early February. She won easily by 8 1/2 lengths as the 6/5 favorite. Fully Aware was claimed from the Brad Cox barn and is now in the John Sadler barn. She’s not going to have as easy of a time getting the lead in here, but it was an extremely impressive victory, so I’m going to include her.


Race 8

5:38 p.m. ET

The feature race of the day is an Optional Claiming $100K event that will be run at the distance of 1 1/16 miles for four-year-olds and has a field of nine.

First, we will take a look at No. 5 Pirate’s Punch (3-1), who is the morning-line favorite. He has three wins, two seconds and three thirds from 12 career starts. He’s also one of the classiest horses in the race with two third-place finishes in graded-stakes races, one of them being last time out in the G3 Mineshaft at Fair Grounds.

While he is shipping in and has never started at Oaklawn, his three career victories have come at three different tracks, showcasing his versatility to adapt after shipping. Pirate’s Punch is a front-running type which will also serve him well here. For all of these reasons, he’s my top pick.

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Next we have No. 8 Kurilov (4-1) who is coming in on a two-race win streak and his two starts before the win streak he missed by just a neck each time as well. The Brad Cox trainee is coming into this race in some of the best form of his career and he’s proven he can win on a fast track or an off track.

He is a perfect 2-for-2 at Oaklawn and has two wins and two seconds from five starts at the distance. Kurilov has also shown that he can go to the front or sit just off the pace and close in the lane. With the amount of speed in this race, I suspect that jockey Joseph Talamo will have him sitting just off the pace and make a sweeping move on the turn coming for home. He’s one that you must include in your ticket.


Race 9

6:09 p.m. ET

The last run of the day is an allowance race for fillies who have never won twice. It will be run at the distance of 1 mile and has 13 horses entered to run.

We will start towards the outside with No. 9 Shocking Fast (4-1). After her first two starts in July of last year, she was sent to the Steve Asmussen barn and given a break. She came back to the races at the end of maiden where she scored convincely by 5 1/2 lengths. In that race, Shocking Fast took the lead and never looked back.

This seems like a great spot for her and Asmussen wins 20% of the time second off the layoff and 22% of the time when the horse broke its maiden last time out. For these reasons, I’m making her my top pick in here.

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The morning-line favorite is No. 7 Gold Credit (2-1). She is coming in off a third-place finish where she made her move too late and didn’t have enough time to get there. This will be her second start for the Phil D’Amato barn, who has a 22% winning percentage with horses who make their second start for him. While she made a big move last time out, she only has a win and a third from nine lifetime starts. Gold Credit looks like a vulnerable favorite here, but I’m going to include her in my ticket.

Another horse that I’m going to include in No. 6 Crystal Lake (3-1). She has one win, two seconds and three thirds from nine career starts. In her last start she was clearly second best and she is getting some class relief today which should help.

Her lone win came on the grass which is not ideal, but she’s shown she can be competitive on the main track. Her speed figures are also concerning as I’m not sure she is fast enough to compete with some of the others in this race, but because of her competitive nature, I’m going to include her.


Bets for Oaklawn Park, April 3

Race 6

  • Win: 9
  • Pick 4: 8,9/3,7/5,8/6,7,9

Race 7

  • Win: 3

Race 8

  • Exacta box: 5,8

Race 9

  • Win: 9

[Bet now at TVG and get your first bet 100% risk-free up to $300.]

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