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Oaklawn Park once again took center stage with both of the weekend’s stakes events as the Hot Springs, Arkansas, track continues to lead the way during the pandemic. Let’s take a look at who made our latest Three Stars of the Week:
What a way to make a seasonal debut! After winning the Clark Stakes (G1) to end 2019, Tom’s d’Etat waited until Saturday to return in the Oaklawn Mile Stakes. The 7-year-old son of Smart Strike saved ground early, getting comfortable while a hot pace developed up front. Jockey Joel Rosario tipped Tom’s d’Etat out going into the far turn and he swallowed up most of the field before emerging onto the front stretch in the lead. From there, Rosario confidently hand-rode him alongside and eventually past Improbable to win by 3/4 of a length. Tom’s d’Etat is one of the best dirt milers in the country; the only concern is if trainer Al Stall, Jr., can keep him healthy enough to make the Breeders’ Cup (G1) at the end of the year.
The 3-year-old stakes featured a showdown between multiple stakes and graded stakes winners, but it was Allied Racing Stable’s Mr. Big News who came rallying from the rear to pull the 46/1 upset. Jockey Gabriel Saez let Mr. Big News settle on his own, spotting the leaders several lengths. Midway down the backstretch, Mr. Big News began passing horses and was forced to go wide in the far turn, but all that did was give him the momentum to surge powerfully in the stretch. Taking the lead with 1 furlong remaining, Mr. Big News was able to hold off Farmington Road late to win by a 1/2-length in the slop. The win was the Bret Calhoun trainee’s first against stakes company and gave him both a berth in the Arkansas Derby (G1) on May 2 and the Preakness Stakes (G1), whenever that is rescheduled.
There were several other strong 3-year-old male performances at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, including Skol Factor breaking his maiden and Shooters Shoot outdueling Blackberry Wine. In the end, we chose Pneumatic because of how easily and impressively he defeated allowance/optional claiming company. After running a bit rank early on for Ricardo Santana, Jr., Pneumatic settled on the backstretch in mid-pack, then made a four-wide move in the far turn. Taking the lead in mid-stretch, the Steve Asmussen trainee drew off once ahead to win by 2 1/2 lengths. The Arkansas Derby is likely next for Pneumatic, who is two-for-two after defeating Skol Factor on debut.
The connections of Pneumatic, 2-for-2 off this allowance victory at Oaklawn Park, will take "a hard look" at the Arkansas Derby next: https://t.co/mHNezMbnaV pic.twitter.com/m5Mqy05X5m— Horse Racing Nation (@HR_Nation) April 12, 2020
The connections of Pneumatic, 2-for-2 off this allowance victory at Oaklawn Park, will take "a hard look" at the Arkansas Derby next: https://t.co/mHNezMbnaV pic.twitter.com/m5Mqy05X5m
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