Road to Kentucky Week 7 Recap

hopperblog recap

Rain started falling about midway through the Oaklawn Park contest card on Saturday, but that didn’t spoil an excellent day of racing in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The featured Rebel Stakes resulted in an exciting four horse stretch battle between Hoppertunity, Tapiture, Strong Mandate and Ride on Curlin. When Tapiture tried to split horses in mid-stretch, he bumped with Hoppertunity creating a chain reaction of problems with the four runners. Hoppertunity finished in front by a head at 6-1 odds, but those backing him knew a steward’s inquiry would be posted. Ultimately the stewards ruled that there would be no change, a decision that appeared correct to me after viewing the replay.

The maximum score available this week was 3,146 points. Only one favorite was victorious and the mid-range prices dominated the action. Six of the eleven races were won by horses going off between 5-1 and 7-1 odds, and only one double digit odds horse (13-1) found the winners circle. Hoppertunity was tops on the day, generating 484 points as the winner of the bonus race. However, because of the bunched nature of each race result, I wouldn’t say that any given horse was a “must-have” in terms of gaining a top six contest finish.

I liked Hoppertunity as a logical alternative to Tapiture and Strong Mandate, but I ultimately decided on Street Strategy as my contest play. He was giving up experience to the favorites, but I hoped he could move forward with a front running trip which never materialized. In the end it was clear that he wasn’t ready for this level of competition in his third career start. Hoppertunity would have been the smarter choice, given Bob Baffert’s record at Oaklawn Park over the years. Congratulations if you selected Hoppertunity this week!

I expect the winning score to be a bit lower than last week due to the evenly spread point totals per race, maybe 1,800 points? Next week we move to the synthetic surface at Turfway Park for the featured Spiral Stakes. This race has given up some longshot winners over the years, and also produced Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom in 2011. Hope to see you here!

PS – Heliskier, two-time Canterbury Park Horse of the Year, is entered to race at Oaklawn in Friday’s eighth race, a six furlong sprint.

The Oracle

 

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