Oaklawn Park Picks: Shackleford County the upset play in Race 3

Oaklawn Park begins the week with a nine-race card on Thursday
Oaklawn Park begins the week with a nine-race card on Thursday

Another week of racing begins on Thursday at Oaklawn Park with a quality nine-race program. As usual, our in-house handicapper has provided picks for the whole card, in addition to select analysis of the races.

If you're looking for picks elsewhere around the country on Thursday, be sure to check out our Free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.

Horse Racing Picks

Most Likely Winner:  Crown Jewel (Race 7) - Crown Jewel is no superstar, but she’s an honest filly and is sorely lacking any real competition in this race. She’s coming off a quality second-place finish over this track to Ocean Breeze, who is a borderline stakes type of horse and will appear later in my Oaklawn analysis, and a repeat of that effort is going to make her very tough to beat. The slight turnback to 5 ½ furlongs should also work in her favor, not that she needs another advantage over this mediocre group.

Best Value:  Shackleford County (Race 3) - Her last three races aren’t all that appealing, but don’t sleep on Shackleford County as she makes her second start at the meet. This 6-year-old mare came alive late last year for her current trainer Juan Cano, and I believe she has excuses for each of her last three efforts, particularly last time when she was off slowly and had to rally behind pedestrian splits over a muddy track. I thought she ran deceptively well in that spot and I expect her to get back to her best form here as she now has a race under her belt on the local strip.

Other Races of Interest:  Race 5 - Pioneer Spirit (#1) was a contender for the day’s ‘Most Likely Winner,’ which ultimately went to Crown Jewel a couple of races later on the card, but he’s still worth examining even though he’s going to be a short price. He doesn’t look much faster than his stablemate Chris and Dave (#5), who also goes out for trainer Robertino Diodoro, but he’s been keeping vastly better company and is due for a win. I’m not at all concerned with the drop Pioneer Spirit is taking given the fact he hasn’t won a race in more than a year, and I believe the class relief he’s getting is going to make all the difference as he’s maintained his form remarkably well as an 8-year-old.

Race 8 - As promised, I’m a fan of Ocean Breeze (#2) in the day’s feature. This filly obviously needs to step her game up after narrowly beating Crown Jewel in her last start, a runner that would be double-digit odds here, but that doesn’t take into account the less-than-ideal trip Ocean Breeze had in that race. She was able to save ground around the turn, however when the real running began she was bottled up in traffic. It wasn’t until the final furlong that Ocean Breeze found a seam, and when she did she surged through it and on to a surprisingly easy victory. This is indeed a step up in class, but with a better trip I think this talented filly can come out on top.


*If you're interested in seeing results for these races, you can find them on our Results page linked to below*

Horse Racing Results