With limited stakes options available around the country, Saturday's $150,000 Oaklawn Mile has attracted a field that includes three millionaires and two Grade 1 winners. Tom’s d’Etat makes his 2020 debut as the likely favorite in a full field of 14 horses based on his victory in the Clark Stakes last November.
Here is a full-field analysis of the Oaklawn Mile, which is slated as Race 9 of 12 with post-time scheduled for 5:43 p.m. ET. Morning line odds are projected by Horse Racing Nation.
1) Slick Silver ML 50-1 – Kantharos – B. Vanden Berg/C. Emigh – 17: 6-5-2 - $123,830] This Florida-bred was claimed out of a $7,500 maiden race back in September. Since then, he has won six straight races while racing on the front end. Last month he took a $12,500 starter allowance at Oaklawn but sees a steep class hike here. Toss.
2) Mr. Money ML 3-1 – Goldencents – B. Calhoun/G. Saez – 12: 5-3-0 - $1,287,220] Last season as a 3-year-old, Mr. Money got rolling in the Pat Day Mile (G3) and rattled off four consecutive Grade 3 victories. In the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) he lost by a neck after setting the pace, which is not typical of him. He has been off since running seventh in his first try against older horses in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. On that day he showed the effects of his rigorous 2019 campaign. He's entering off workouts both long and fast in preparation for this. Win contender.
3) Tom's d'Etat ML 2-1 – Smart Strike – A. Stall Jr./J. Rosario – 16: 9-2-1 - $1,236,572] The 7-year-old will be making both his 2020 and Oaklawn debuts. He returns after two impressive victories in Kentucky, over a sloppy track in Keeneland's Fayette (G2) before the Clark at Churchill Downs. In the past, he has pressed the pace or rallied from a stalking position. Last year was by far the best of his career. He will now cut back to the mile distance for the first time since 2018 when he was a winner. Deserving favorite.
4) Pioneer Spirit ML 15-1 – Malibu Moon – R. Diodoro/D. Cohen – 31: 12-4-8 - $816,578] This 7-year-old was claimed for $150,000 from Brad Cox out of an allowance win at Churchill by Robertino Diodoro and then won two stakes races in a row. More recently, he was fourth in Oaklawn's Razorback Handicap (G3) in February and third in the Essex Handicap in March. Pioneer Spirit is likely to set or press the early pace. Toss.
5) Boldor ML 20-1 – Munnings – S. Asmussen/T. Baze – 10: 3-2-1 - $207,897] We remember this Virginia-bred from his appearance on the 2019 Kentucky Derby trail at Oaklawn Park. Since then, he won a state-bred stakes sprinting at Colonial Downs and a January allowance on a muddy track at Oaklawn. He shows only one race beyond sprint distances and that was in last year's local Smarty Jones Stakes. Distance and class issues seem too significant to overcome. Toss.
6) M G Warrior ML 20-1 – Majestic Warrior – B. Cox/J. Talamo – 14: 5-4-0 - $282,421] This runner from the Cox barn can be considered a solid allowance horse who as a 5-year-old has yet to find any success in stakes races after three tries. He was last seen winning an allowance going a mile on a muddy Oaklawn Park track when he added blinkers for the first time. He would need to make a big step up to compete here. Toss.
7) Snapper Sinclair ML 8-1 – City Zip – S. Asmussen/F. Geroux – 25: 5-5-3 - $1,230,384] This 5-year-old shows two place and a show finishes in the three major stakes for older horses at Oaklawn in 2020. Most recently, he set the pace in the Essex and got caught late in the stretch to get second. His last victory came last year at Kentucky Downs when he rallied boldly to take the Tourist Mile on the turf. Use underneath.
8) Bankit ML 15-1 – Central Banker – S. Asmussen/R. Santana Jr. – 17: 3-6-1 - $661,325] This New York-bred last found the winner’s circle in July in the state-bred New York Derby at Finger Lakes. He has three starts in stakes races at Oaklawn this year, missing the win by a head twice, including in the Razorback. Most recently, he was seventh on a sloppy track in the Essex when he did not show his usual late run. Use underneath.
9) Home Run Trick ML 50-1 – Winslow Homer – W. Martin/W. De La Cruz – 16: 4-1-2 - $142,375] This 5-year-old is in fine form, but that's at the allowance and claiming levels only. He’s another one who likes to run on the front end but is unlikely to get the lead in this type of field. Toss.
10) Long Range Toddy ML 20-1 – Take Charge Indy – D. Stewart/B. Hernandez Jr. – 12: 4-1-2 - $918,709] We remember Long Range Toddy from the Kentucky Derby trail last year when he was the winner of the Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn. That was also his last victory. Now, he makes his 2020 debut with a trainer switch from Steve Asmussen to Dallas Stewart. In his best races, he ran close to the early pace. But this is a tough spot in which to expect a top effort off the bench. Toss.
Lord Guinness [ML 30-1 – Shanghai Bobby – T. Yakteen/R. Fuentes – 10: 2-3-1 - $116,921] This California shipper comes to Arkansas with a Santa Anita allowance victory to his credit two races back after a stalking trip. Toss.
12) Kershaw ML 30-1 – Run Away and Hide – P. D’Amato/F. De La Cruz – 14: 4-2-3 - $143,757] In his 2020 debut, Kershaw won a mile allowance on the front end at Santa Anita after a layoff dating back to June. He has never run in a stakes but he does have three victories at the mile distance. Toss.
Fight On [ML 20-1 – Into Mischief – D. O’Neill/R. Vasquez – 24: 4-3-4 - $395,271] Fight On was part of the string that trainer Doug O’Neill sent to race in Dubai earlier this year. He ran third in four tries with the most recent start coming just a month ago. The 5-year-old was fourth in the Oaklawn Mile last year, but the travel back home and the outside post make him tough to like. Toss.
14) Improbable ML 7-2 – City Zip – B. Baffert/D. Van Dyke – 10: 4-2-0 - $919,520] This Bob Baffert runner will make his 4-year-old debut after what some may consider a disappointing sophomore campaign that showed only one victory in the Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar in August. Improbable’s year ended with a fourth in the Pennsylvania Derby and fifth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. Baffert has him prepared with several long, stamina-building works and most recently a fast half-mile tightener. The outside post draw was a tough break for a one of the most talented horses in the field. Use underneath.
Summary: The Oaklawn Mile presents an interesting challenge to handicappers because the top three choices will all be making their 2020 debuts as part of a full field.
Tom’s d’Etat is a worthy favorite based on his year-end victories in the Fayette and the Clark. He was in the best form of his entire career, but he now must return from a four-month layoff as a 7-year-old. Keeping that in mind, you will need to decide what odds will be acceptable. Maybe 5-2?
The Mr. Money that won four consecutive Grade 3 races and then lost the Pennsylvania Derby by a neck would be a serious win contender in here. It’s been five months since his poor performance in the Breeders’ Cup. I’m willing ignore that race which came after a long campaign, but the 4-year-old has yet to win against older horses.
Improbable also exits a poor performance in Dirt Mile in his only try in the older male division. As is often the case with Baffert runners, especially those working well, favorable odds are unlikely. Drawing the far outside post makes it that much harder to play him to win.