The Oakland Stakes
Race 7—Post Time: 3:48 P.M. PST
6 Furlongs on Tapeta-Purse: $50,000
Analysis by Michael Patricks
It’s a fairly light weekend of racing from throughout the country as the days of November gradually begin to wind towards Thanksgiving and the ever-ominous “Black Friday” that follows. A reminder, the Jockey Club will be open once again on Thanksgiving Day with racing from Aqueduct, Laurel, Churchill, Fairgrounds, Del Mar and Golden Gate Fields. The Jockey Club will offer free admission on Thanksgiving Day with doors set to open up at 9 a.m. Racing is scheduled to conclude before 3 p.m. thus giving horse players a unique opportunity to not only enjoy a full supply of races on their day of thanks, but also a chance to be with their friends and loved ones at the dinner table immediately thereafter.
Due to a little racing luck and intervention from the stewards atop the Golden Gate Fields grandstand we were able to come away with the top two from last week’s Golden Nugget. Let’s keep the analysis on Golden Gate Fields once more and turn our focus to Saturday’s Oakland Handicap.
1-Quick and Silver 12/1 ML– He’s very fast and always gets bet. He’s never been anywhere near double digit odds in any of his races but his rider defects for the morning line favorite. The inside draw sprinting is always tough sledding. His last win came in March and he’ll have to run hooked every step. Respect the resume over the surface but I seem him doing the moonwalk at the top of the stretch; pass.
2-Star Student 8/1 ML– Won this race last year but has been unseen since May when competing in two turn events. He always brings an effort with him that is respectable and even though his regular rider sticks with him, he’s now a seven-year-old coming off a six month break and that’s a big handicap to overcome. Tapeta is his friend to be sure but he’s facing some tough competitors when in truth he most likely needs one. Make plans to use him deep down underneath on verticals, if at all.
3-Zakaroff 20/1 ML– El Camino Real Derby winner resurfaces after his second consecutive layoff. Sophomore faced older for the first time in his latest comeback–a start he had to have needed. There is room for improvement as a three-year-old and he’s in very good hands, but he’s yet to top 78 on the Beyer scale and that’s not going to cut it with this group. Alvarado bails for Percy’s Bluff and Bowen and Specht are winless together in 10 tries; price should be quite healthy if you’re so inclined.
4-Right Hand Man 12/1 ML– Sophomore has faced older in his last two starts with mixed results. Last seen on the Fourth of July after finishing third while hanging in the lane and was subsequently gelded. If his being “together” was causing some difficulty in terms of his racing performance then it’s entirely possibly he could springboard forward. Hernandez bails on him for Westley, but he’s shipped and scored over this surface in the past. Given his grow up potential and the recent “change in equipment”, he has some definite positives in his corner; could sneak into the equation.
5-Outside Nashville 8/1 ML– Grizzled veteran is winless in 2017 and his last win came on the Fourth of July in 2016. This is only his third start in 2017 and he had to have needed his last race off an extended absence. Granted, he doesn’t look as sexy as his two stable mates directly outside of him but notice that half-mile bullet on top of this race and see that he was favored in his race last year and he makes a lot of sense. If this is his Super Bowl he’s been pointed for, you could see a big step forward on Saturday and at a healthy price to boot; intriguing indeed.
6-Percy’s Bluff 4/1 ML– He’s as game as a race horse can be and has meritoriously marched his way into stakes consideration after competing at the $4,000 claiming level back in the day. He’s extremely handy, versatile, and is quite tenacious in the lane. Percy should be up close to a solid tempo as I Will Score and Westley will undoubtedly get after it early. Hernandez defects for Westley though Alvarado is the perfect rider to sit and finish. He’s going to be in the right spot and may just be good enough; figures once again.
7-I Will Score 5/2 ML– Precocious son of Roman Ruler competed against the best of his class in 2016 and was sent off at 5/2 against Mor Spirit and Uncle Lino. Morning line favorite appears to have the most talent but this will be his first try as a four-year-old coming off an 18-month layoff and first try over a synthetic surface to boot. He can win, but you’re wise to not take too short a price on a horse trying something for the first time. Westley should be on top of him early and this is no layup by any means; there are concerns.
8-Mach One Rules 8/1 ML– Longacres Mile favorite shows up on the cutback after setting the pace on the Santa Anita lawn against Blackjackcat and company in a turf experiment. He’s banked a quarter million by pressing and stalking on dirt and this is just his second start over the synthetic. He figures to be rolling late but the onus is on his pilot to carve out a passage and not get outmaneuvered by his riding brethren. He can hit the ticket but I’d prefer him much more if this was on dirt; route-to-sprint hasn’t been Lucarelli’s strong point—iffy city.
9-P Club 20/1 ML– Ships in from the Midwest after competing in allowance contests on the grass. His best efforts were actually on the Tapeta so he should appreciate the return to this surface and no doubt the price will be right. The problem here is that he’s never topped an 86 in the Beyer department and he was 175/1 the last time he competed in a Grade III race at Golden Gate Fields; would be a stunner.
10-Westley 7/2 ML– Unseen since April when he transformed himself into one of the best sprinters on the grounds. He loves the synthetic surface as evidenced by his resume and spectacular work tab for his comeback. He’s been a bit better as a second off the layoff type but he’ll undoubtedly make his presence felt in this spot for sure and it’s noteworthy that Hernandez lands here; one tough hombre.