Hot Springs-Essex Stakes Double Plays

March 21st, 2024

A pair of stakes races will highlight a 10-race card at Oaklawn Park on Saturday and I will take aim at the double. 

Stakes Double 

  • $5 double 1,5,6 with 3,5,9 ($45)
  • $2 double 6 with 3,5,9 ($6)
  • $2 double 1,5,6 with 9 ($6)

In the first black-type race of the afternoon, nine sophomores will run a two-turn mile in the $200,000 Hot Springs S. #6 Nash is obviously talented for conditioner Brad Cox and can surely win the contest, but he’s burned a lot of money in his last trio of outings and could be overbet, once again. I’ll use the son of Medaglia d’Oro who might appreciate the cutback in distance under Florent Geroux, but he’s not a single for me. 

#1 Otto the Conqueror, one of two talented runners in the group for Steve Asmussen, stopped after setting the pace in the Southwest S. (G3) in his seasonal debut, but he is much better than he displayed over the muddy going in that one and will improve a lot on Saturday. The Springboard Mile S. hero gets Keith Asmussen in the silks. 

And #5 Footprint could be any kind with the addition of blinkers in the cast. The Kenny McPeek pupil possesses a nice turn of foot in a field with a lot of pace in it, and things could fall into his lap with Chris Landeros in the stirrups. 

The Cox-conditioned #9 First Mission will be a formidable foe with his top effort in the $600,000 Essex S. (G3), but he too is far from a sure thing. While the Godolphin homebred might be a major player in the handicap ranks this season, he faces a few nice horses that shouldn’t be overlooked in the tilt. 

Mike McCarthy’s #3 Wizard of Westwood is quite intriguing as the inside pace of the field. The modest $20,000 yearling purchase is 2-for-2 on the dirt in his lifetime, which includes a romp at Churchill Downs in an off-the-turf allowance test two back. The grassy stakes winner might not be good enough, but I still would like him on the ticket as the one to catch. 

I was a bit disappointed that #5 Magic Tap fell short in the Razorback H. (G3) in his second run off the layoff, but the Asmussen charge still ran well when second, and a forward move will make him dangerous in the co-feature. The gray colt owns a consistent turn of foot, and if he can stay in touch to the top of the lane, then he wouldn’t be a surprise to me. The son of Tapit has a bright future, in my opinion.