A fantastic four race stretch today at Oaklawn, that finishes with the $1,000,000 Arkansas Derby. Here are my thoughts on each race:
Grade 3 Count Fleet
I really like Outta Tune, the seven-year-old gelding who has won three in a row to beat the 2-1 morning line favorite Izzy Rules. Outta Tune is losing eight pounds off his last win, which was his also his third straight start and win at Oaklawn. I like Our Dark Knight and Apriority to fill out the exotic wagering.
$100,000 Northern Spur
Drill is the heavy morning line favorite and is coming off a very nice win on February 12, but I can easily see the lightly raced Explain, with John Velazquez, winning this eight furlong race. Explain is coming off a good but not great race, where he had traffic issues and finished second. Master Rick will be on the lead and should be good enough to last for third.
Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap
This race really lacks a lot of early speed, which will hurt Ron the Greek, who is probably the best horse in this race. Alternation is a consistent horse, with four wins over the dirt at Oaklawn and will be uncontested on the front end. Hymn Book is the classic stalker and is sharp for trainer Claude McGaughey and should be a huge threat. Ron the Greek will be coming late, but might need a better pace and more distance.
Grade 1 Arkansas Derby
I'm going to pick Stat, who is trained by Todd Pletcher and is coming off a really impressive win at Gulfstream Park on March 17. Isn't He Clever appears poised to take another step forward and should be dangerous without blinkers today. Secret Circle and Bodemeister are more than capable of winning. If you're making any superfecta wagering, I like both long-shot closers—Cozzetti and Najjaar.