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Papa Dude’s Saturday Stakes Picks: Oaklawn Park
Caddo River training at Oaklawn Park (Credit: Coady Photography)

Papa Dude’s Saturday Stakes Picks: Oaklawn Park

I must be getting old, because I can’t believe that I forgot: this is Rebel Stakes (G2) Week at Oaklawn Park! The second-best day of the meet is the perfect time to give out Papa Dude’s first Saturday Stakes Picks.

Disclaimer: I’ll have to watch on my phone because I lost track of the dates when I was planning a trip to Florida with my wife that we’re taking soon. As great as my wife is about my horse racing addiction, she won’t permit me to cancel it at the last minute.

The card is loaded with 12 races highlighted by the $1 million Rebel and includes the $500,000 Essex Handicap, the $350,000 Azeri (G2), the $150,000 Temperence Hill, and the return of local favorite Whitmore in the $200,000 Hot Springs.

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Oaklawn Park is my home track and where I got hooked on this sport, so here are my predictions for the stakes races:


In this is short field of 5, anyone can make a case to win. Shedaresthedevil is my top selection, though she’s returning from a long layoff; how will that affect her? The Kentucky Oaks (G1) defending champion will be hard to handle – if she’s ready. Her Brad Cox stablemate Getridofwhatailesu is a definite threat coming off a local victory in the Pippin Stakes and should be ready to rock and roll. To round out my trifecta, I like Envoutante. Her past races are solid

Azeri picks: 5-4-1


I like Silver State on top. Trained by Steve Asmussen, he won January’s Fifth Season Stakes over this track and should be well-rested and up to the task. My pick for second was very difficult to choose. Since Tax is apparently too scared now (he scratched), I’ll rely on one of my favorite horses ever, Rated R Superstar. When Danny Caldwell claimed him for $50k earlier in the meet, I was shocked that he spent that much on an 8-year-old horse, but I trust his knack for claiming and winning.

Essex picks: 5-3

Temperence Hill

I’ll be honest, I don’t have a good feeling about any of these entries, and according to Willie the Bathroom Attendant’s morning line, no one else does, either. If I was at the track, I’d skip betting on this race.

Temperence Hill picks: 4-10-1

Hot Springs

This is the race I’m looking forward to the most because the great Whitmore makes his first start as an 8-year-old. One of my top 5 favorites of all time, he’s also my first choice, but I have concerns about his age. If he can continue his brilliance and still has what I call that “want-to,” then he’s the best of the field. I think he gets in the gate, looks at the rest of the horses, and says, “Who’s ready to get your ass kicked?” He’s done it 15 times and I’m picking him to make this number 16. C Z Rocket finished second to Whitmore in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, so he’s legit. Rounding out the trifecta, I’ll go with the Boldor.

Hot Springs picks: 6-7-1


The feature race is a Kentucky Derby (G1) prep with major ramifications. Bob Baffert ships in Concert Tour, fresh off his victory in the San Vicente Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park. That was arguably the best victory of anyone in this field and Baffert has a habit of saddling the winner of this race. The other logical choice is Caddo River, the very impressive Smarty Jones Stakes winner, but what impressed me the most was trainer Brad Cox’s post-race comments. He loves this horse and thinks he can be more than special.

Other intriguing horses are Get Her Number and Keepmeinmind. Get Her Number is 2-for-3 in his career, but his last win was last September. I’m thinking he needs a race and won’t be quite ready. Keepmeinmind is in a similar position, having last raced in late November. Trainer Robertino Diodoro doesn’t usually win at this level.

Rebel picks: 1-7-4

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Let’s hope the weather holds up and these great races can be finished on a fast track.

Enjoy the races and hit a winner or two!

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