We had to remind ourselves that today would have been the start of Kentucky Derby week, one of the best weeks on the sporting calendar all year. Today's first pick posts at 5:45 pm EDT.
Because of this self-quarantining business, days started running together a while ago, but now weeks are starting to run together too. We had to remind ourselves that today would have been the start of Kentucky Derby week, one of the best weeks on the sporting calendar all year. Instead, it’s another Monday, which means racing at Will Rogers Downs and Fonner Park. If someone had told us three months ago that five days before the Kentucky Derby we’d be thankful for races in Oklahoma and Nebraska, we’d have tried to get odds -- it’s a good reminder of how much the world has changed, and how quickly.
Fonner looks dry, and while there’s a chance of showers at Will Rogers, rain is less than a 50/50 prop bet for Northeastern Oklahoma, so we’ve handicapped all races for fast dirt. Let’s go.
Allowance, 1 mile, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
This allowance for female horses drew a field of ten. We’re all in on the favorite, 8-Baydar. She fits on form, having won last out in the slop in a handicap at Will Rogers, but what has us particularly enthusiastic about her chances is her trainer, Jon Arnett, who has won with 8 of his 18 starters at the current Will Rogers meet, an absolutely incredible 44% win rate (and four of the 12 non-winners finished second or third, which means Arnett’s horses have hit the board at a 67% clip, which is extraordinary). With other entrants in the field coming from a couple of more high-profile trainers, like Steve Asmussen and Robertino Diodoro, we’re hoping that Baydar will get overlooked in the betting, and that we can get something close to her 2-1 morning line price. We will bet her to win. The bet: Will Rogers Downs, Race 8, $35 to win on 8-Baydar.
$55,000 Miranda Diane Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Oklahoma-bred Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
The Miranda Diane drew a field of ten, and while the state-breds that make up the field are pretty evenly matched, we think the favorite, 6-Three Chords, is legitimate, and she is our pick. She’s a 5-year-old mare who is in excellent form, with good efforts going all the way back to last May, and we think her typical effort will be enough to take the prize here. Look for her to be forwardly placed, either setting the pace or just off it, and to put the other speed horses away at the top of the stretch, with just enough left in her tank to hold off the closers. We will bet her to win at 2-1. The bet: Will Rogers Downs, Race 9, $40 to win on 6-Three Chords.
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up
Eight go in the 6th at Fonner, a tough non-winners of four allowance for older horses. Most of the top betting choices are speed horses, and we think that because of this, there will be a speed duel, with an unsustainably fast early pace that will set the table for horses coming from behind. Our pick is a closer, 4-Mallory’s Bandit, whose recent races are a bit light from a speed figure standpoint, but we think that she is going to get a dream trip today, and that makes her a contender. She’s trained by Marissa Black, who gets a high percentage of winners from a limited number of starters, and we think that Black will have Mallory’s Bandit ready to fire today. We will bet her to win at 10-1. The bet: Fonner Park, Race 6, $30 to win on 4-Mallory’s Bandit.
Allowance, 6 ½ furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up
This allowance drew a field of seven. The horse on the rail, 1-Black Ops, is a strong play: his last two races have been in stakes, and while he didn’t win either of them, he was competitive, which shows he’s in good form. He also possesses good early speed, and a strong finishing ability, so he should get a good stalking trip, especially from his advantageous rail post, and from there be able to put away the speed horses on the far turn, take the lead, and hold off the latecomers. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Fonner Park, Race 8, $35 to win on 1-Black Ops.
That’s all for today. Enjoy the races, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.