A total of nine races will comprise a fine opening-day card at Oaklawn Park on Friday. The $150,000 Smarty Jones S., a 2021 Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifying event, is the headliner of the day, but it is far from the lone attractive race on the slate. Below are a few of the contests that I will be taking aim at on the undercard.
Race 1 — Starter Allowance
In hopes of getting the meeting underway in a positive manor, I will tab #4 Clear the Mine (9-2) in the opener. The hard-knocking son of Mineshaft picked up four victories in 2020, and he looks like a perfect fit on Friday while making his first run since returning to Villafranco. I expect the 8-year-old to thrive on the cutback in distance with Vazquez in the irons.
Race 6 — Maiden Special Weight
I think if we get the morning-line price on #7 Saffa’s Day (5-2) at post time that he must be played. Carpe Diem colt didn’t run poorly in the Springboard Mile most recently, and while this race looks quite competitive, the class drop on Saffa’s Day is too big to ignore.
Race 7 — Allowance/Optional Claiming
An evenly matched cast will go postward in the six-furlong dash. #9 Home Base (5-1) has good gate presence in a field that lacks substantial pace contenders, and he is training like a horse sitting on a big one for Miller. Street Sense 6-year-old will force the action from the outside post and have clear sailing in the stretch under Geroux. I will play him to win and with class horse #4 Engage (9-5) in exactas.
Race 9 — Starter Allowance
The finale is a $10,000 starter event at one mile. One of my top plays of the day comes with #6 Charlie’sarchangel (5-1) in his first off the claim. Morse trainee was a big second in a similar race here last meeting, and I just feel that he has been running well enough with better as of late to be a menacing figure against this cast. Joe Talamo rides and will have the 5-year-old in the mix from the break.