Scully: Handicapping Oaklawn Late Pick 4 on Arkansas Derby Day

March 29th, 2024

A pair of major qualifiers for the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Oaks (G1), the $1.5 million Arkansas Derby (G1) and $750,000 Fantasy (G2), are included in a challenging Late Pick 4 at Oaklawn Park Saturday.

The Arkansas Derby features a compelling matchup between three top contenders — Muth, Mystik Dan, and Timberlake — and it’s difficult to imagine the winner coming from outside this group.

The top three from the Feb. 24 Honeybee (G3) at Oaklawn — Lemon Muffin, Tapit Jenallie, and West Omaha — return for the Fantasy, but a pair of new local faces, multiple New York-bred stakes winner My Mane Squeeze and comebacker Thorpedo Anna, are the top two choices on the morning line.

I will play the following $36 Late Pick 4 ticket, and here are my thoughts on the sequence.

50-cent Late Pick 4: 4,5,6 with 6,10,11 with 2 with 1,2,5,6,8,9,10,12 = $36 

Race 10 - Matron S. 

After a pair of convincing allowance wins over suspect rivals at Fair Grounds, #4 Mucho Macho Girl (8-1) experienced an inside trip and came up a little short late in her stakes debut, the Feb. 24 Carousel at Oaklawn. She gained valuable seasoning and has come back to record a couple of sharp half-mile works in preparation for Dallas Stewart, and I will give the progressing four-year-old filly a slight edge.

Last-out Aqueduct allowance romper #5 Leeloo (3-1) and Carousel winner #6 Zeitlos (7-2) will also be used.

Race 11 – Fantasy (G2)

I will tab at least a minor upset with #6 Ba Dee Yah (12-1), who exits a 5 3/4-length win in the off-the-turf Allen LaCombe Memorial at Fair Grounds. Following a pair of turf starts to open her career, Ba Dee Yah switched to the main track with a convincing maiden special weight win in late November. The Tom Amoss trainee was in too tough in her first attempt versus winners next out, finishing third to subsequent Rachel Alexandra (G2) and Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) winner Tarifa, but Ba Dee Yah rebounded smartly last time, and I like the improved early speed she displayed.

And I won’t let #10 Tapit Jenallie (15-1) and #11 Lemon Muffin (9-2) beat me off a strong showing.

Race 12 – Arkansas Derby (G1)

I won’t spread with favorites, this is a good spot to take a stand, and I like #2 Timberlake (9-5). A Grade 1 juvenile winner, the Brad Cox-trained colt looks poised to keep advancing off a solid two-length decision in his seasonal opener, the Feb. 24 Rebel (G2), and Flavien Prat should be able to settle into a favorable stalking spot just off the speed from the inside post.

Race 13 – Allowance

A large and competitive field of fillies and mares will square off in the finale, and I will use #1 Esme (30-1), #2 Sister Kisses (12-1), #5 Absinthe (5-2), #6 Let’s Duet (9-2), #8 Malibu Smart (8-1), #9 Xylophone (20-1), #10 Thestral (4-1), and #12 Faith Alone (20-1).