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3 Stars of the Week:
-1st Star – Now I Know (OK) – With her dominating performance in the Dixie Belle, where trainer Don Von Hemel said she was at “about 80%,” she moved her record to a flawless six for six. What’s even more impressive is the fact that she has never been behind in any of her races at ANY point. There is no telling how good this filly is going to be. Her next start will come in the Martha Washington. She’ll might have a few new challengers like On Fire Baby or Lulu Wong in that one, but it’s hard to imagine anyone being able to beat her at this point.
-2nd Star – Junebugred (KY) – Even though he won the biggest race of the weekend in the Smarty Jones, I’m still a little leery of crowning him the next Oaklawn star. Out of all the horses, he got the best trip. Jockey Joe Bravo never really had to take him off the rail, and Junebugred was wiling to come up on the inside and steal the race. You still have to give him credit though. To jump from a maiden win to a stakes win is ultra impressive. I think this horse will be able to handle more distance, but will it suit him as well as some of the others that will come out of this race? That remains to be seen.
-3rd Star – Reckless Jerry (KY) – I thought he ran the best race in The Smarty Jones, but his 5 wide trip was too hard for him to overcome. If the race was one and one sixteenth of a mile, I think he would have won this one. As the distances start to get longer, look for Reckless Jerry to get better and better. He’s the sleeper of the 3-year-old crop at Oaklawn as of right now.
Biggest Flop Of the Week:
–Optimizer (KY) – Anytime you’re set as the morning line favorite and you run like Optimizer did, you’re bound to land in this spot. He was pretty rank for most of the race, and was all over the track during the stretch run. It’s obvious a mile is not his cup of tea. Since The Southwest Stakes is also ran at a mile, I think Lukas should consider shipping him to another track to run a longer distance for his next race. If you watched the gallop-out, Optimizer went past every horse and showed he had plenty left in the tank. Even with that being said, we’ll need to see a huge improvement before thinking he can compete at a high level.
Preview of Next Week:
-The Pippin Stakes – $75,000 for older fillys and mares. One and one sixteenth mile.
-The American Beauty – $50,000 for older fillys and mares. Six furlongs.
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