First picked post at Will Rogers Downs is 4:15 pm.
Will Rogers Downs and Fonner Park are the ovals racing today. We have a pair of plays at each, and we expect fast dirt in all four of them. Let’s go.
Starter Allowance, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up
This six-furlong starter allowance is for horses who have started for a $7,500 claiming price in either 2019 or 2020. Considering those conditions, it’s a surprisingly, even shockingly, good field. There’s a lot of speed in it, which makes 10-Freedom Hill a strong play: he won his last race, a $6,250 claimer at Oaklawn Park, going wire to wire, but before that, he did his best running by stalking, sitting just off the pace and finishing strongly. That style, sitting just behind the leading flight of horses and moving past them at the top of the stretch, generally works well at Will Rogers, and we think it will work especially well in this race. Look for him to bide his time just behind the pacesetters, who should be going very fast early, and pass them when they begin to slow down at the top of the stretch. We will bet him to win at 7/2. The bet: Will Rogers Downs, Race 5, $40 to win on 10-Freedom Hill.
Allowance, 1 mile, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
This first-level allowance for females drew a field of nine. The obvious favorite is 4-Nocturnal Mission, who was claimed by trainer Scott Young for $7,500 out of her last race, which she won by over 11 lengths at 1/20 odds. She jumps from claiming to allowance company, but she earned a big figure for that win, and off the fig, figures to be a very, very short price today, and we are consequently betting against her.
We like 2-Figure, who starts for trainer Ray Ashford. She ran a deceptively good race last out, finishing a closing second to Karate Hottie, who’s won multiple races at the current Will Rogers meeting, and who’d probably be 1/5 against this group. That was also Figure’s first race at a mile after a bunch of races sprinting, and we think that experience, and fitness, will help her today. She should get a ground-saving trip from her inside post position, and from there, be able to win the race going away. We will bet her to win at 5-1. The bet: Will Rogers Downs, Race 9, $30 to win on 2-Figure.
$10,000 Maiden Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
This maiden claimer drew a field of nine. This one looks easy to us: 1-Obvi is a strong play. She’s burned a lot of money in her last three, losing twice as the favorite, but she will probably never see another field this weak in her life. She has the most natural early speed, should save ground with her rail post, and should win this. She won’t be her 9/2 morning line price at post time -- her odds will be much lower -- but as she is by far the likeliest winner, we will bet her anyway. We will bet her to win. The bet: Fonner Park, Race 5, $40 to win on 1-Obvi.
$2,500 Claiming, 6 ½ furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up
Seven line up for this lower-level claimer, and like the horse on the rail, 1-Giant Gamble. He makes a lot of sense: he’s in good form, having won two in a row; he earned superior speed figures in those two wins; he has good early speed; and he drew the rail, which is an advantage around the tight turns of Fonner Park track. In his last two races, he ran for claiming prices of $3,500 and $5,000, respectively, and while a horse dropping in claiming price after a win is a huge negative sign for us -- if he can win at $5,000, why run him for half of what he’s worth? -- in this case, the drop does not bother us, as he’s an 8-year-old gelding, and has been dropping steadily in class since last summer, presumably because he’s slowing down as he gets older, as we all do. We think the old warrior can squeeze one more good race out of his old legs, and at 3-1, we think he’s a solid play. We will bet him to win. The bet: Fonner Park, Race 4, $35 to win on 1-Giant Gamble.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.