Mr. Ark faces off against 9 other Arkansas breds in the 2nd race of the day tomorrow at Oaklawn. The race is a $16,000 claiming race to be run over a distance of a mile and an eighth. CJ McMahon will be in the irons and we’ll be breaking from post 2.
Here is a breakdown of the race in post position order with trainer then jockey listed in parenthesis.
Mallard’s Bro (Villafranco/Cabrera) – Claimed two starts back for $30,000 in an Arkansas bred race where he finished 4th. First off the claim was in an open $50,000 claimer where he was no factor. He’s a deep closer and should have a class edge on the field having earned more than a quarter of a million dollars and is stakes placed.
MR. ARK (LITFIN/MCMAHON)
Promising Shoes (Hornsby/Loveberry) – Gelding last won at Canterbury this past summer over a group of $6250 claimers. After some time off he came back in a route over a muddy Oaklawn track and showed speed before faltering late against state breds at the $30,000 level. Brought back against open $12,500 level horses, he didn’t show much at all. This should be his proper level and should try to stalk the pace.
October Sky (Martin/Wales) – A pair of solid third place finishes against state breds, two back at this level. Has won at a mile but may have some issues going longer and the extra furlong may be much, especially considering that his two races after his 9-month layoff have been at six furlongs.
Dontsaymyname (Ives/Morales) – Lost to Mr. Ark last out by 12 lengths while showing little since being off since August. He should be a little sharper in his second race after the layoff but his Oaklawn form in his past performances has been abysmal.
Shoe Money (Fires/Court) – In his first race back off a long layoff he was third at this level going six furlongs. Broke his maiden here last year in a state bred maiden claimer followed up by hitting the board in a $15,000 and $20,000 state bred claimers. This will be the longest he’s ever gone by far. You’d expect the sprinter to show some speed when stretching out.
Bogey (Witt/Quinonez) – His first race back to the races was the race where we claimed Mr. Ark. He finished a nice 2nd, beaten 3.5 lengths. Expect him to be even sharper in this start.
Light Bound Bid (Loy/Eramia) – Very sharp in his seasonal debut where he beat a field of $8000 starters getting up at the “shadow of the wire” (credit Richard Grunder for the phrase!) but hasn’t been competitive since. Gets some class relief here as his last two were a $16,000 and first level allowance, respectively. He’ll want to be running late.
Mr. D’s Last Storm (Altamirano/Felix) – Won at the lower levels at Louisiana Downs and hit the board in his Oaklawn seasonal debut against open $6250. Pushed up a bit to a pair of $8000 conditioned claimers (non-winners of a race in 6 months) where he faltered badly. Back in with state breds for the first time in a long time, he should show more than he did in his last.
Strawn’s Cash (Cates/Vazquez) – Speedster stuck on the far outside will be at a disadvantage even after notching his second lifetime win last out against a field of open $8000 conditioned (non-winners of 2 lifetime) claimers. Reatins the services of a top-notch pilot, however, and he will give him the best chance to win. SCRATCHED TO RUN IN STAKE SATURDAY
These state bred claiming races are tough to figure. You tend to get the same horses in a $6250 claiming race as you may in a state bred allowance. They tend to beat each other up and the trip becomes all important.
I wouldn’t call Mr. Ark a speed horse by any measure. I think he’s best when he can track someone and move on by. However it is entirely possible that we will inherit the lead in this one and McMahon’s job will be to try and control the pace for 9 furlongs.
The start of the race is halfway down the backstretch.
This doesn’t leave a lot of room for Strawn’s Cash to get position, though if he breaks alertly, he could put pressure on our boy up front. Promising Shoes and Bogey could both be a factor early, though I can see them settling behind the leaders to make a run later.
So, the key will be the trip. If we can work out a good trip it is certainly possible that Ark can win, though by no means a sure thing as the contenders in here are a pretty well balanced group and we do give up some class to other runners. He could also end up finishing 7th depending upon how things work out as, like I alluded to earlier, these state bred claimers have a way of taking turns beating each other up and down the class ladder.
Post time is slated for 1:57 PM Central. Good luck!