Starting 2017 Oaklawn meet with a Pick 3 play

January 11th, 2017

If memory serves, Oaklawn Park has lost all or part of its opening weekend to bad weather a few times in recent years. That won't be the case this weekend as the forecast calls for seasonably mild temperatures Friday through Monday.

However, that same forecast predicts showers or rain every day, so we could be looking at a wet track making things interesting from a handicapping perspective.

The Pick 3 that begins on Race 6 Friday includes the three highest class races on the opening day program, and I'll be tackling that wager. Here's an early look at how I see things.

Race 6 - A tough N3X/Conditioned allowance for fillies and mares over six furlongs. Durango (#3, 4-1) has been rock-solid in her five races without blinkers, and has been working up a storm over the track in recent weeks, a sign I typically like to see in the opening week or two of Oaklawn every year. Chanteline (#2, 2-1) is one of several top mounts New York-based jockey Jose Ortiz has picked up during this sequence.

I'm going to lean against Athena (#1, 5-2), who has plenty of back class but ran a bit dull during the fall, and Marquee Miss (#6, 7-2), last year's Dixie Belle and Martha Washington winner who hasn't done her best work on a wet surface.

Race 7 - Ortiz is another potential factor in this race aboard Zip Van Winkle (#9, 5-1), who adds blinkers after a wide fourth in his debut at the Big A. Clearly Super (#2, 6-1) was a non-threatening fourth to a next-out Fair Grounds stakes winner in his Churchill debut and also has room to improve second out [UPDATE: Clearly Super was scratched Friday morning]. Dilettante (#10, 7-2) is more exposed than the other two, but has run a couple good ones for "The Coach," D. Wayne Lukas.

I'm inclined to leave off Wicked Zar (#3, 4-1), who pressed a soft pace but still failed to pull out the win while taking a significant class drop from Churchill to Remington last fall.

Race 8 - The $125,000 Fifth Season for older horses has attracted a contentious field. Code West (#3, 5-1) was a strong second in this race two years ago off a similar break, and won first off a longer layoff last summer in his 2016 debut at Prairie Meadows. He's obviously is capable of firing fresh. Pinson (#4, 6-1) was narrowly beaten in the Delta Mile in his first start off the claim by Randy Morse, perhaps a sign of better things to come. Inside Straight's (#7, 9-2) third in the Zia Park Derby was among his best races, and I'm definitely not one to ignore any horse saddled by Robertino Diodoro. Domain's Rap (#9, 6-1) is relatively long in the tooth, but probably worth including given his past love of the track.

My pre-scratch 50-cent Pick 3 is 2,3/2,9,10/3,4,7,9 = $12.

If you're playing Oaklawn opening weekend, be sure to opt into's 20X Points promotion. Wager $10 or more to Win on any race at Oaklawn between January 13-16, and you'll get 20X points for your bets if you fail to cash a ticket in that race.