Handicapping for Oaklawn Park and Apple Blossom Handicap – By Ed McNamara
How much should you spread, and where, in a multiple-race wager? It’s always a balancing act between “Don’t leave out a logical contender” and “You can’t bet ‘em all.” Which is worse, including unlikely winners on the ticket or playing with scared money?
Then there’s the question of how much to agonize over the handicapping process. “Study long, study wrong” warns not to let minutiae distract you. Yet if you just glance over the past performances, you miss key information.
Too often I hit two of three in the pick 3 and three of four in the pick 4. Nothing unique there, that’s pretty much the story of almost everyone’s life among those beguiling horizontal wagers.
My luck changed suddenly this winter, when I hit three consecutive pick 3s, including one with three long shots. My confidence soared before the inevitable aggravation resumed. I hit two out of three in my last three attempts, but at least I didn’t kick myself for leaving out horses I had considered strongly.
I decided I’d made the right moves but had the misfortune of having outliers jump up and run career bests. Those are the breaks.
Playing the horses is not a relaxing hobby, but once you’re hooked, you’re on the line for life. Which brings us to the pick 3 starting in the eighth race Saturday at Oaklawn Park, featuring two graded stakes sandwiched around a competitive $50,000 optional claimer.
The outlay will be $37.50, with 75 combinations (5 X 3 X 5) off a 50-cent base wager.
Here are the numbers:
2,4,7,9,10 with 1,5,6 with 5,11,12,13,14
And good luck.
Whitmore (9) is going for a record seventh stakes win at Oaklawn. It would be insane to leave out the ultimate horse for course (eight wins, four seconds, one third in 13 starts), but he’ll be a very short price and doesn’t have to win. He lost his last seven graded stakes, and this is a tough field. He also often breaks slowly.
Share the Upside (10) beat Whitmore two starts back, and I’ll be using him along with Bobby’s Wicked One (4) and Hidden Scroll (7). All three are need-to-lead types, and a pace duel could set it up for California shipper Flagstaff (2) and Joel Rosario, 5-for-13 with five seconds to open the meet.
Flagstaff, a strong finisher with tactical speed, could sit the best trip and is worth a win and place bet. I’ll use all five and hope for a price.
I went back and forth about spraying with six horses before settling on the three classiest runners. I think Break Even (6) is the most likely winner, with Shanghai Tariff (1) and Meadow Dance (5) the main threats.
Shanghai Tariff and Meadow Dance each ran second to multiple-stakes winner Mia Mischief, with Shanghai Tariff doing that twice. Meadow Dance is 2-for-2 off extended layoffs and working brilliantly for Brad Cox, who also trains Break Even.
She won her first six career races, including four stakes, last year before running second in the Grade 2 Prioress at Saratoga. If she returns to that form, she’ll coast. She did a speed-and-fade to sixth at 4-5 odds in her 4-year-old debut. I’m thinking that was a fluke.
Oaklawn’s signature race for older females could not have come up better – a field of 14 with nine graded-stakes winners.
If last year’s Kentucky Oaks heroine, Serengeti Empress (11), gets another easy lead, don’t expect anyone to catch her, but Cookie Dough, Ce Ce and maybe Come Dancing have enough early foot to soften up the likely favorite.
I give a big shot to Point of Honor (5), who has never run a bad one in a seven-race career. A proven two-turn horse, she should move up off a second in her first sprint ever, a 7-furlong handicap last month at Tampa Bay Downs.
Besides Point of Honor and Serengeti Empress, Go Google Yourself (12), Lady Apple (13) and Ce Ce (14) are on the ticket. Go Google Yourself is 2-for-2 at Oaklawn and 4-for-9 at 1 1/16 miles.
Lady Apple, 3-for-4 over the track and 5-for-6 at the distance, beat Serengeti Empress in the Houston Ladies Classic. Ce Ce dominated the Beholder Mile at Santa Anita and might be able to outrun Serengeti Empress for the lead.
|1||Ollie’s Candy (KY)||J Rosario||J W Sadler||12-1|
|2||Coldwater (KY)||W De La Cruz||P Eurton||50-1|
|3||Awe Emma (KY)||C J Lanerie||D Stewart||20-1|
|4||Come Dancing (KY)||F Geroux||D W Lukas||3-1|
|5||Point of Honor (KY)||D Van Dyke||G Weaver||10-1|
|6||Street Band (KY)||S Doyle||J L Jones||15-1|
|7||Queen Nekia (FL)||D Cohen||S A Joseph, Jr.||20-1|
|8||Saracosa (KY)||M Garcia||C Contreras||30-1|
|9||Horologist (NJ)||T Baze||R Baltas||15-1|
|10||Cookie Dough (FL)||A Cedillo||S A Joseph, Jr.||10-1|
|11||Serengeti Empress (KY)||J Talamo||T M Amoss||4-1|
|12||Go Google Yourself (KY)||B J Hernandez, Jr.||P J McGee||12-1|
|13||Lady Apple (KY)||R Santana, Jr.||S M Asmussen||15-1|
|14||Ce Ce (KY)||V Espinoza||M W McCarthy||7-2|
If you enjoyed this piece, check out our piece on Apple Blossom Betting Odds by Rich Rosenblatt
Ed McNamara is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about thoroughbred racing for 35 years. He has handicapped races for ESPN.com, Newsday and The Record of New Jersey. He is the author of “Cajun Racing: From the Bush Tracks to the Triple Crown” and co-author of “The Most Glorious Crown,” a chronicle of the first 12 Triple Crown champions.