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2023 Fifth Season Stakes Preview & FREE Picks | Rust-Free Ginobili Ready To Romp At Oaklawn Park
Ginobili (Ernie Belmonte)

2023 Fifth Season Stakes Preview & FREE Picks | Rust-Free Ginobili Ready To Romp At Oaklawn Park

Aaron previews the 2023 Fifth Season Stakes from Oaklawn Park, then gives his top picks & long shots. Ginobili knocked off a year’s worth of rust last time out and appears ready to romp for trainer Peter Miller, but could defending race champion Rated R Superstar spring another surprise? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

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The track press release:

Program favorite Ginobili and 2022 winner Rated R Superstar are among 10 older horses entered in the $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes at 1 mile Saturday at Oaklawn.

The Fifth Season goes as the ninth of 10 races, with probable post time 4:22 p.m. (Central). First post is 12:30 p.m.

The projected Fifth Season field from the rail out: Soy Tapatio, Cristian Torres to ride, 122 pounds, 9-2 on the morning line; Runnin’ Ray, Martin Garcia, 122, 8-1; Heart Rhythm, Rafael Bejarano, 122, 12-1; Hello Hot Rod, Nik Juarez, 115, 12-1; Dreamer’s Disease, Casey Fusilier, 122, 20-1; Rated R Superstar, Isaac Castillo, 122, 4-1; Seize the Night, Mickaelle Michel, 122, 20-1; Ginobili, Ricardo Santana Jr., 115, 7-5; King Fury, David Cabrera, 115, 10-1; and Silver Prospector, Francisco Arrieta, 122, 20-1.

The Southern California-based Ginobili raced twice at the 2020 Oaklawn meeting and recorded his biggest career victory to date in the $200,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes (G2) at 7 furlongs in August 2021 at Del Mar. Ginobili was then trained by Richard Baltas, but is now under the care of trainer Peter Miller. In his first start for Miller, Ginobili finished second, beaten a head by stablemate Get Her Number, in a Nov. 20 allowance sprint at Del Mar. It marked Ginobili’s first race in almost a year following a physical setback, Miller said.

Before shipping to Oaklawn, Ginobili tuned up for the Fifth Season with a swift 6-furlong work (1:11) Jan. 7 at San Luis Rey Training Center in Southern California.

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“He ran great off the layoff and he’s trained super since,” Miller said. “His work on Saturday was about as good as a horse has worked for me – 1:11 and galloped out (7 furlongs) in 1:23 and change.”

After winning the Pat O’Brien, Ginobili concluded his 2021 campaign with a runner-up finish in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Del Mar and a sixth-place finish in the $750,000 Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) at Aqueduct. Ginobili moves back to two turns after a narrow loss to Get Her Number, a Grade 1 winner and second in the 2022 Cigar Mile.

“We had an allowance race that we were looking at out here, but it didn’t go,” said Miller, who has around eight horses at Oaklawn. “We pivoted to this a couple of weeks ago.”

Millionaire Rated R Superstar will be making his 10-year-old debut for four-time Oaklawn leading owner Danny Caldwell. A late-running son of Kodiak Kowboy, Rated R Superstar bankrolled $600,266 last year after winning 4 of 9 starts. Rated R Superstar opened 2022 with a victory in the Fifth Season and won Oaklawn’s $500,000 Essex Handicap (G3) at 1 1/16 miles in March. He exits a victory in the $100,000 Jeffrey A. Hawk Memorial Stakes at 1 mile and 70 yards Dec. 17 at Remington Park.

Oaklawn leading trainer Robertino Diodoro bids for his fourth stakes victory of the meeting with Soy Tapatio, who has flourished since being privately purchased last summer. Soy Tapatio has three stakes victories for his new connections, including the $100,000 Zia Park Championship Nov. 22 at Zia Park in his last start. Soy Tapatio set Zia Park’s 1 1/8-mile track record (1:47.18) in the one-length victory.

“He’s done well for us,” Diodoro said. “He’s a nice little horse.”

Millionaire Silver Prospector won the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles in 2020 at Oaklawn for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. Asmussen is seeking his record-extending 98th career Oaklawn stakes victory.

Heart Rhythm, who is trained by John Ortiz, will be racing around two turns for the first time since April 2021. After being claimed for $100,000 Sept. 15 at Churchill Downs, Heart Rhythm won an Oct. 19 allowance race at Keeneland and finished second and third in two sprint stakes at Fair Grounds. Heart Rhythm, racing without blinkers, exits a third in the $100,000 Richard B. Scherer Memorial Stakes at 6 furlongs Dec. 26 at Fair Grounds.

“Heart Rhythm’s doing fantastic,” Ortiz said. “This horse is always asking for more distance. From the very beginning, we thought that this horse needed a little bit of distance. The gallop out, that last race, it was incredible. If you actually watched the gallop out, he opened up on that field. Just gives me more encouragement to stretch him out.”

Runnin’ Ray finished third in the $400,000 Oaklawn Mile (G3) for older horses last April at Oaklawn for trainer Joe Sharp. King Fury cuts back to a mile after finishing fifth in the $200,000 Tinsel Stakes at 1 1/8 miles Dec. 17 at Oaklawn for trainer Kenny McPeek.

Silver Prospector and King Fury add blinkers for the Fifth Season.

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