The racing week in Arkansas continues Friday with a nine-race card. The day’s feature is the eighth race, a high-level optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles that resembles a Grade 3 event, because of its class and depth.

As always, a late Pick 4 is offered over the last four races of the day at Oaklawn Park. Here are my thoughts.

Race 6:

There are several ways to go in this open $25,000 claimer at two turns to kick things off. 7-2-morning line choice #8 Hardly a Secret was all out less than a week ago to get by 8-1-shot Secret Touch. That race may have been against slightly stronger based on claiming price, but this field is twice as large and has a number of runners dropping in class. I am willing to fade the son of Creative Cause to start the sequence.

The pace is likely to be honest, but #1 Dr. Hipp, #3 Morse Code, and #9 Moment all are good enough to beat this group if they can avoid a cutthroat battle on the front end. If they do fly early, #6 Attentive, #11 Altito, and #5 Mineyerownmalone are the likeliest to pick them up late.

Race 7:

I am also willing to take a chance against the morning line favorite in this starter allowance sprint, #4 Summer Storm, who has not been the same horse since entering the Michael Puhlich barn. The daughter of Majesticperfection ran some strong races in 2019, but has struggled to replicate that form as a 5-year-old. 2-1 is far too short to swallow.

#7 Fully Aware is light on experience, but was impressive on debut. It is encouraging that her new connections protect the daughter of Violence after claiming her for $50,000 in early February. She is my top choice, but I am concerned she may get caught up in an early tussle, so I will also use #2 War Ballad and #3 Jewel Thief. War Ballad moves up in class in her third start of the form cycle for trainer Chelsey Coady. If the pace is hot she should be finishing full of run. Jewel Thief has struggled to get out of the gates in her two starts in 2020, but if the Slam Dunk Racing filly can break cleanly she has a big shot to win for the first time since arriving in Brad Cox’s barn.

Race 8:

The pace is likely to be hot in the Friday feature given the presence of #4 Gato Guapo, #5 Pirate’s Punch, and #7 Lenstar. This should set things up for a runner that can relax early and finish strong.

#8 Kurilov struggled to find the winner’s circle in 2019, but has won two straight versus lesser for trainer Brad Cox. The son of Lookin At Lucky was off slow in his last start on Feb. 21, but was able to overcome the early trouble and get to the wire first. The 7-year-old gelding is trending in the right direction, has shown an affinity for this track, and perhaps most importantly has learned to relax in the early stages of his races. I am expecting a big effort on the class hike. My single.

Race 9:

Much like the penultimate race of the day, Friday’s finale also features a number of runners that possess early zip. This should set things up for one of three 4-year-old fillies who do their best running late.

#7 Gold Credit is the deserving 2-1-morning line favorite. The daughter of Goldencents appears to be rounding back into form after a number of disappointing efforts in 2019. The only concern is that she has not won since her debut in October of 2018.

#6 Crystal Lake is a logical alternative to the chalk. She should get a great trip under jockey Walter De La Cruz after a runner-up effort in the mud on Mar. 14. I will also include longshot #11 Jo Marie. The Elusive Quality filly has had a plethora of chances, but should be running on late if she can avoid another slow start. Hopefully Ramon Vazquez can angle in and save ground early and come with a strong rally in the lane.

Suggested Wager: (50-cent Pick 4)

For an overview of the types of wagers and calculating costs, read this article on Twinspires.com.

  • R6: 1+3+5+6+9+11
  • R7: 2+3+7
  • R8: 8
  • R9: 6+7+11

Ticket Cost: $27