Oaklawn spot plays for Feb. 25, including Honeybee and Rebel Stakes

February 24th, 2023

Saturday’s Oaklawn card features both the Honeybee (G3) and Rebel (G2), respectively Kentucky Oaks (G1) and Kentucky Derby (G1) prep races with points awarded on a 50-20-15-10-5 scale to the top five finishers.

Below we offer spot plays for the graded stakes as well as the Carousel S. in Race 7 and a competitive allowance optional claimer in Race 8.

Race 7: Carousel S., six furlongs, fillies and mares four years and up

Morning line favorite #5 Yuugiri (2-1) handled a muddy track in a six-furlong allowance at Oaklawn on Dec. 30, wiring the field and beating a next-out winner by 2 1/4 lengths while posting a 96 Brisnet Speed rating. The Shackleford filly was sharp in 2022, with a victory in the Fantasy (G3) and a third in the Honeybee to earn a spot in last year's Kentucky Oaks, where she set the pace early before giving way in the stretch to come home 13th of 14 fillies. The Rodolphe Brisset pupil comes off a nearly two-month layoff here and posted a sharp, four-furlong workout ahead of her sixth stakes attempt. Ricardo Santana Jr. (a 21% winner this meet) will stick with the four-year-old, who is racing on Lasix for the second time.

While Yuugiri will be tough to beat, a few longer shots are enticing among the 11-horse field. #10 Mercy Warren (8-1) romped to a 16-length victory last out in a six-furlong allowance optional claimer at Fair Grounds over a track labeled good, and her bullet, 47-second four-furlong workout indicates she's sharp and ready in her first stakes effort.

#1 Hazy Command (10-1) is also intriguing from the rail post, which is winning at a 21% clip this meet. The four-year-old Candy Ride granddaughter has won back to back at today's distance since joining the barn of Tom Amoss, and she's never finished out of the money in nine tries at six furlongs. Amoss is a 19% winner with horses that won their last race, and regular rider Rafael Bejarano is an 18% winner this meet.

Race 8: Allowance optional claimer, six furlongs, four-year-olds and up

#1 Flap Jack (2-1) drew a favorable post in this nine-horse optional claimer and will go for his third straight victory, and second since he was claimed by trainer Chris Hartman, a 33% winner this meet. The Oxbow six-year-old wired a $30,000 allowance at this track over muddy ground last out and will keep rider Nik Juarez, a 17% winner at Oaklawn. Flap Jack owns a 10-4-0-1 record at today's distance, and he's 2-for-4 at this track. The pacesetter should be able to get out front early and control the pace throughout.

Race 10: Honeybee S. (G3), 1 1/16 miles, three-year-old fillies

#7 Wet Paint (7-2) triumphed by two lengths over today's rival Taxed last out in the 1 1/16-mile Martha Washington S., in which she recorded a 91 BRIS figure with a 107 Late Pace rating over a wet-fast track. The daughter of Blame was full of run to win going away and proved the stretch-out to 8 1/2 furlongs was well-suited for the three-year-old. Trainer Brad Cox is a 28% winner with horses that won their last race and a 25% winner in graded stakes. Jockey Flavien Prat, who is 4-for-6 at Oaklawn, will retain the mount, and Wet Paint's bullet five-furlong workout on Feb. 19 adds to the appeal.

Race 11: Rebel S. (G2), 1 1/16 miles, three-year-olds

Another highly touted Cox runner, #1 Verifying (2-1) drew the rail out of the 11-horse field and enters off a commanding victory in an allowance optional claimer, where he beat second-place finisher and today's race rival Gun Pilot by 5 1/4 lengths. By Justify, Verifying has since recorded a trio of sharp five-furlong workouts and can improve in his second start off a layoff. Jockey Florent Geroux is 8-2-2-1 at Oaklawn this meet and a 38% winner paired with Cox over the last two months. He'll look to take command from the start in Verifying's second try at 8 1/2 furlongs.