A field of eight line up in the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, with the Brad Cox trained Warrior’s Charge appearing to be the value of the race.
The five-year-old is making his second start off the bench for Cox, who will give jockey Elvin Gonzales a leg up, breaking from the four post at 6-1 on the morning line. His regular rider Florent Geroux is sticking with stablemate Owendale (7-2).
Warrior’s Charge won the Razorback Handicap (G3) here last year and then ran second in this race. The Oaklawn ‘Cap goes off as the ninth race on the 12 race card and is one of two races offering up a $1 million purse.
Trainer John Shirreffs ships in Express Train (5-2) from the west coast. The colt has run back to back triple digit Beyer Speed Figures, running second in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) in his last outing.
Apple Blossom Showdown
Two races later on the card is the $1 million Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) which drew a field of six including a pair of Eclipse Award winners from last year.
Monomoy Girl is the even money favorite with Geroux aboard for Cox. The six-year-old mare won the Bayakoa (G3) in her first start this year. Last year she was perfect in four starts, capping off her campaign by winning the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) at Keeneland.
Swiss Skydiver (2-1) won the Eclipse Award last year for top three-year-old filly. She won five of her 10 starts last year including beating the boys in the Preakness Stakes (G1) which was held in October. She failed to fire in the Distaff, checking in seventh.
The Ken McPeek trainee came back off the bench with a smart win in the Beholder Mile (G1) at Santa Anita going a mile on March 13 to kick off her 2021 campaign.
Let’s head out to Oaklawn Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Oaklawn Park Race 9 The Oaklawn Handicap G2 4:49 CT
4 Warrior’s Charge 6-1
2 Express Train 5-2
1 Silver State 4-1
6 Owendale 7-2
This five-year-old ran second in this race last year to By My Standards. Last out he was sent off as the chalk against allowance foes in his first go off a six-month layoff. He tracked the early pace, took over the lead heading for home and could not hold off Guest Suite late in a runner up finish going a mile over a wet track. He should be tighter for his second start of the break for Cox who is 28% winners with runners making their second start off a 45–180-day layoff. Last year this guy won the Razorback ‘Cap (G3) here and after a second in this race was fourth beaten two lengths in the Met Mile (G1) at Belmont Park. The Cox trainee owns solid early and mid pace numbers in a race without a ton of early zip signed up. He has done some of his best running over the main track here and the 6-1 morning line looks fair enough.
This colt invades from Southern California for the Shirreffs barn. The colt is coming off a solid runner up finish in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) going 1 ¼ miles. He tracked the early pace, took over the lead and got run down late by Idol coming up a half-length short. He won the San Pasqual (G2) two back at today’s nine-furlong distance with a career top speed fig. The $500,000 Keeneland purchase has made just nine starts I his career, landing in the exacta seven times. The cut back to nine furlongs should suit him and he comes in here in very sharp form for a very capable barn that does not ship out of his home base very often.
The Asmussen trainee went down the Derby trail last year with a second in the Lecomte (G3) and a third in one of the divisions of the Louisiana Derby (G2) but then hit the bench. He came back off a seven-month layoff to beat Alw-1 foes and has reeled off three more wins, his last pair here. He won the Fifth Season here two back at a mile by a nose and then last out won the Essex Handicap by a neck at 6-5. He looks as if he will benefit from the added ground here and has some tactical speed. The colt breaks from the rail and should be able to get a good trip sitting just off the early pace.
WIN: Warrior’s Charge to win at 4-1 or better.
EXACTA: 4 / 1,2,6 and 2,4 / 1,2,4