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Aaron previews the 2023 Bachelor Stakes from Oaklawn Park, then gives his top picks & long shots. Will the Brad Cox-trained Mo Strike be ready to race after a long layoff, or is the 2022 Sanford Stakes (G3) winner at risk of running rusty? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
Grade 3 winner Mo Strike is scheduled to make his 2023 debut in the $150,000 Bachelor Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters Saturday at Oaklawn.
Probable post time for the 6-furlong Bachelor, the 10th of 11 races, is 5:26 p.m. (Central). The card also features the inaugural $150,000 Dig a Diamond Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 mile. Racing begins at 12:30 p.m.
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Program favorite Mo Strike hasn’t started since finishing fourth in the $300,000 Hopeful Stakes (G1) Sept. 5 at Saratoga. The 7-furlong race, contested over a sloppy track, was won by Forte, subsequently an Eclipse Award winner as the country’s champion 2-year-old male and Kentucky Derby favorite. Mo Strike will be racing on Lasix for the first time Saturday.
“He’s done good,” said Brad Cox, who trains Mo Strike for Nasser Bin Omairah. “He’s been at Keeneland, training pretty steady. “I thought this would be a good spot to get him back started. Obviously, maybe try to stretch him a little bit, but I thought this would be a good race off the layoff.”
Mo Strike, who is by champion Uncle Mo, won his other two starts last year, including the $175,000 Sanford Stakes (G3) at 6 furlongs July 16 at Saratoga. Cox, roughly a month after the Hopeful, said he decided to stop on Mo Strike and point for 2023 campaign.
“Just back training at Churchill in the fall, he just wasn’t moving quite like we like, so we gave him some time off,” Cox said.
Mo Strike returned to the work tab March 4 at Turfway Park. His last four drills have been at Keeneland, including a 5-furlong bullet (1:01) April 17. Cox is seeking his first Bachelor victory and record-extending 10th stakes victory at the 2022-2023 Oaklawn meeting. Two of Cox’s stakes victories came in Kentucky Derby points races – $250,000 Smarty Jones Jan. 1 with Victory Formation and the $1.25 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 1 with Angel of Empire. Cox said he guesses Mo Strike, at the time of the Hopeful, “would have been” his best 2-year-old.
“I thought he was going to run really well in the Hopeful,” Cox said. “He didn’t run terrible, but it was a really wet track that day. He was training really well; he just didn’t fire like we thought and just needed some time.”
Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen is seeking record-extending 103rd career Oaklawn stakes victory. Asmussen, who has won the Bachelor a record seven times, is scheduled to start Ryvit and Joking Way. Ryvit has won two consecutive starts at the meeting, including a first-level allowance April 14, under Asmussen’s son, Keith, who is seeking his first career at Oaklawn stakes victory.
Triple Crown nominee Arman exits an entry-level allowance victory sprinting March 23 at Oaklawn for Southern California-based trainer Peter Miller. Count de Monet and Tyler’s Tribe finished first and third, respectively, in the $150,000 Advent Stakes at 5 ½ furlongs Dec. 9 at Oaklawn.
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Count de Monet was 3 for 3 overall after the Advent, but hasn’t been competitive in his last two starts at the meeting for trainer Tom Swearingen. Count de Monet was beaten 17 ¼ lengths in his last start, an open allowance sprint against older horses March 5.
“Just didn’t run his race,” Swearingen said. “He didn’t seem right. Maybe he was a little over classed. I think he’s doing really good right now. Hopefully, he fires back for us.”
Iowa-bred star Tyler’s Tribe cuts back to a sprint after fading to sixth, beaten 15 ¾ lengths, in an allowance race March 30 at Oaklawn for co-owner/trainer Tim Martin. The 1-mile race marked the 3-year-old and two-turn debut for Tyler’s Tribe, who looks to regain the form he showed last summer and fall at Prairie Meadows, where he won his first five career starts, including four stakes, by a combined 59 ¾ front-running lengths.
“The 6 furlongs, I think, will be good,” Martin said. “I think going into the mile, all the works and stuff, he just went 6 furlongs and that’s about all he wanted, she (Jordan) said.”
Release McCraken, who is trained by Bret Calhoun, is seeking his fourth consecutive victory.
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