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HOT SPRINGS, AR – A baker’s dozen 3-year-old males have entered the featured event at Oaklawn Park on Friday, April 24. The 6-furlong allowance/optional claiming sprint is the 10th and final race on the card.
Favored at 3/1 is No Parole, a son of Violence who defeated fellow Louisiana-breds by 34 lengths in his first three starts, including the Premier Night Prince Stakes. Questions regarding his distance capabilities were answered in the Rebel Stakes (G2) after he failed to make the lead and quit halfway through. Trainer Tom Amoss is cutting him back in order to right the ship.
“Louisiana-breds are becoming very competitive on a national scale,” Amoss said. “In the past, you bought a Louisiana-bred merely thinking about the (restricted) program, but now, if you got a good Louisiana-bred, you can take them anywhere.”
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1. No Parole (3/1) – His first two career starts were 6-furlong romps by a combined 27 1/2 lengths over fellow statebreds, so perhaps he was meant for one-turn races all along. In the words of his own trainer: “Stretching out is always a bit of ‘We’ll see how he runs,’ and I think that’s true of him, but I think he’s a brilliant sprinter.”
2. American Butterfly (9/2) – Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas saddles this son of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, who won both of his appearances over this course. Though he has only one victory in 10 starts, American Butterfly has a 6-furlong record of 5-0-3-1, including missing by a head here on February 2 behind Little Menace, a contender in Saturday’s $100,000 Bachelor Stakes.
3. Bubba Bling (15/1) – Owner/trainer Steve Asmussen’s colt earned black-type honors last September 11 when he took home the 6-furlong Texas Stallion Stakes at Retama Park. He finished third in a small restricted stakes at Sam Houston in his 2020 debut, but he must improve upon his career-best speed figure if he wants to contend here while running for an $80k tag.
4. Rager (20/1) – After breaking his maiden on debut while sprinting over the Santa Anita Park turf, Rager faced some of California’s best in four stakes at three different tracks and over all three possible surfaces. He was most recently a closing fourth over this same course and distance on April 5, finishing 1 length behind third-place American Butterfly.
5. Liam’s Pride (6/1) – Trainer Doug O’Neill entered him in four local races between February and March, with his best results coming in two 6-furlong sprints on a fast track. He was a close third behind a pair of next-out winners before breaking his maiden in his subsequent effort, though he did not seem to enjoy the muddy surface last time out. He is also entered in Saturday’s Bachelor Stakes, a 6-furlong sprint here against 3-year-olds.
6. Mr. Tip (12/1) – This Jack Sisterson trainee is a 1/2-length away from being undefeated in two career starts, first breaking his maiden at Arlington Park in September before narrowly dropping an allowance/optional claiming sprint at Churchill Downs in November. Still, this is a tough ask for his return from five-plus months away.
7. Dark Oak (8/1) – It took him eight starts to break his maiden, but he followed it with a close second in his next and most recent start. Both efforts came over the synthetic surface at Turfway Park, but if he can maintain his form as he transitions back to a fast dirt course (over which he has a 3-0-2-1 record), then he is a contender.
8. Royal Commission (20/1) – A debut victory over this course and distance while running for a $50k tag on March 27 encouraged trainer James DiVito to enter him here. Though he meets the race’s condition without running for a tag, DiVito is risking him for $80k as he faces winners for the first time.
9. Moonachie (15/1) – This gelded son of Central Banker showed speed in all four starts as a juvenile while facing off against fellow New York-breds. He broke his maiden on debut but failed to hit the board in three stakes. He is unraced since mid-December, but trainer Jeremiah Englehart has an 18% strike rate when returning from layoffs of 61-180 days.
10. Hop Kat (7/2) – The second choice on the morning line will make his first start in over 11 months when he enters the starting gate, but Hop Kat’s lone start was a true corker. He demolished a 5-furlong dirt race at Churchill Downs by 8 lengths despite being geared down. Also in his favor: trainer Eddie Kenneally has won 17% with horses returning from layoffs of 180+ days.
11. Juggernaut (12/1) – Like the horse directly to his inside, Juggernaut was an eye-popping maiden debut winner when he took a 5 1/2-furlong Ellis Park event by 6 1/4 lengths. Trainer Keith Desormeaux stretched him out to two turns in the Iroquois Stakes (G3), but he was a well-beaten ninth. He has worked well for his first race since then, firing two bullets at Fair Grounds in the past three weeks.
12. Happy Hour Cowboy (20/1) – This Bob Lindgren homebred finished 2019 with a record of 3-2-1-0 that included a stakes victory, all against fellow Minnesota-breds. His first start of 2020 was a local 6-furlong open-company event that went poorly, as he was sixth against a field that included Liam’s Pride and Big Returns. On paper, this spot does not look any easier.
13. Big Returns (5/1) (Also-Eligible) – Despite having defeated two of the entries who drew into this field, Big Returns’ only chance of facing them again is for someone to scratch. This Doug O’Neill trainee pulled off a 61/1 upset last out in his first trip over a muddy surface, so if he makes the gate and the track is wet, he looms a dangerous threat from the outside.
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