As far as The Thoroughbred Racing Dudes are concerned, the best race meet in the country begins this Friday. Opening weekend at Oaklawn Park is finally here! The road to the Triple Crown runs through Oaklawn, as well as the road to Horse of the Year. When Havre De Grace is crowned Horse of the Year this Monday, that will make FIVE straight years that a horse that has wintered at Oaklawn has went on to win Horse of the Year. Can Oaklawn make it six in a row? Is there a Kentucky Derby winner stabled here this year? How about a triple crown winner? All these questions will be answered soon! Racingdudes.com will be your Oaklawn Headquarters throughout the meet. We cover all racing, but Oaklawn will be the topic of many discussions. We will have weekly Newsletters posted, as well as previews for all the major stakes races. Today I will preview the Fifth Season Stakes and the Dixie Belle Stakes:
— THE FIFTH SEASON STAKES — $75,000 For four-year olds and upward. One and One Sixteenth Miles.
About the Race: The first stakes of the season is aptly named The Fifth Season Stakes because in Arkansas there are five seasons: Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring, and Oaklawn Season! Last year the locally famous Win Willy won this race in typical come from behind fashion. He later went on to win the tracks premier event for older males; The Oaklawn Handicap. This years field has drawn a competitive group of eight, including Kentucky Derby alumnus Twice the Appeal.
1 – Twice The Appeal – His presence in the race complicates things. Twice The Appeal is by far the classiest horse in the race, but that doesn’t mean he’s the right choice here. He hasn’t raced since last years Kentucky Derby, when he finished a distant 10th. His workouts leading up to this race have been pretty steady, but you might want to stay away from him here. He’ll be short priced, and might need a race or two before you see him at his best.
2 – Richmond – This son of former Oaklawn star Smarty Jones will be trying stakes company for the first time. He’s coming off a rather impressive Allowance win at Remington Park, but may be a bit out-classed in this spot. Look for him to be a pace factor, but may falter late.
3 – Color Me Blue – This Illinois bred has been extremely consistent so far, but most of his races have been against other Illinios Breds. Today he faces open company, which has me turned off on him.
4 – Enclosure – It’s pretty clear that this one prefers the synthetic surface over the natural dirt he’ll be running on in The Fifth Season. He has the talent to hang with some of these, but I don’t expect him to be around once the real running gets going.
5 – Bonaroo – D Wayne Lukas horses always run well at Oaklawn, but Bonaroo hasn’t had much success there. His recent form has been improving, but I don’t think he’s ready for stakes action yet. He’ll probably get a nice stalking trip behind #2 Richmond, but I’m expecting him to fade as they turn for home.
6 – Ballyjamesduff – Much like Bonaroo, I don’t think this horse is ready for stakes action. He’s won only one race in his entire career, and this will be his first stakes try. I’ll lean towards others in this spot.
7 – It Happened Again – For me, this is the logical winner. It Happened Again was 3 for 4 at Oaklawn last season and is coming off a huge win in a $150,000 stakes at The Fair Grounds. Look for him to sit in right behind the leaders and pounce when the come down the stretch.
8 – Racing Bran – Racing Bran is no stranger to Oaklawn, as he won the Essex Stakes here in 2010. Much like It Happened Again, Racing Bran loves Oaklawn, as he’s 2 for 3 over the track. Now 7 years old, he probably isn’t as good as he once was, but I’d say he’s good enough to get a piece of the action today.
Best Bet to Win: #7 It Happened Again
Best Longshot: #2 Richmond
Top 4: 7-8-1-2
–THE DIXIE BELLE– $50,000 For three-year Fillies. Six Furlongs.
About the Race: The local fillies will take their first steps toward The Kentucky Oaks in this one! The Dixie Belle is the first of four races for 3-year-old fillies, and has been used by many as a “starting off point.” The fillies stabled at Oaklawn this Winter are extremely talented, and this will be our first look at some of them.
1 – Coyote Breeze – I don’t think this one can come close to hanging with the other four in here. Total throw out in my opinion.
2 – St. Louis City – Consider her as the unknown in the race. Her maiden victory was very impressive, and her other start was a decent runner-up in an ungraded stakes at Turfway Park. You can’t consider her a top flight horse yet, but she is the type that could sneak up on you.
3 – Rocket Twentyone – You must respect her in this race as she is the classiest horse in the field. Rocket Twentyone was a perfect two for two before getting out ran in The Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies race. Her trip in that race was far from perfect, and I’m not sure the distance was to her liking. In The Dixie Belle she’ll be cutting back to 6 furlongs, and I think that makes her a real threat in here.
4 – Now I Know – Here is the horse that could become one of the super stars of the meet. Now I Know is a perfect 5 for 5, and has never even been challenged! Her last race in the Delta Princess was flawless as see was an easy wire to wire winner. She is my selection to win this race and move on to bigger and better things.
5 – Amie’s Dini – This could be Now I Know’s biggest challenger. Aimie’s Dini has been ultra impressive so far, and her last win in an allowance at Churchill Downs was a top effort. Amie’s Dini is going to be a very good filly, but I just can’t go against Now I Know in this one.
Best Bet to Win: #4 Now I Know
Best Longshot: #2 St. Louis City
Top 4: 4-5-3-2