Oaklawn Park continues to offer prime wagering fare for TwinSpires players, with 97 horses entered for Thursday’s nine-race card.

I will spotlight a couple of horses of interest on the program.

Race 5:

The $10,000 claiming event came up devoid of speed, with 10 of the 11 contestants racing from off the pace in their last two outings.

#7 Hesluck is the exception, leading wire-to-wire last time at today’s 1 1/16-mile distance. The 5-year-old gelding dropped down to the $20,000 maiden claiming level and stretched out to two turns, opening up by 5+ lengths down the backstretch, and held on to win by a neck. He received a 92 Brisnet E1 Pace rating, and his 75 Speed rating is the second-best last out figure in today’s field.

From a small sample, Stanley Roberts wins at a 22% clip with horses exiting a maiden win, and apprentice Kelsi Harr retains the assignment after delivering a perfect ride last time. This race appears up for grabs, and I like Hesluck (8-1 morning line) right back off the confidence-building win.

Race 9:

First Citizen steps up a level and is the 5-2 morning line favorite after a strong showing from an inside post in which he showed speed on a moderate pace, but he looks vulnerable from post 10 here given the race shape. A couple of rivals with speed (Maybe a Spider and Bayern to Be Wild) are drawn to his immediate outside, and he’s come up short at low odds in the last two starts.

#1 Connection takes a significant class drop after a fifth behind Sycamore Run, who went back into maiden special weight company due to an earlier drug positive after being bet down to 5-1 odds in the Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds. John Sadler stretches Connection out in distance, and I expect a favorable ground-saving stalking trip in the third start off the layoff. The Twirling Candy gelding hasn’t experienced the cleanest trips in traffic in the last two efforts, and the addition of blinkers looks like another positive.

Connection is appealing at 6-1 on the morning line, and I’ll key him in some multi-race wagers as well playing him straight.