Arkansas’ iconic Oaklawn Park, literally situated within a National Park, kicks off its biggest season ever Friday and runs 68 dates through Kentucky Derby Day on May 6.
A track record 45 stakes races will be offered and total nearly $14 million purses alone. Friday’s opening day feature will be the $150,000 Advent Stakes, a 5-1/2 furlong dash for the 2-year-olds. Saturday will be highlighted by $150,000 co-features, the Ring the Bell and Mistletoe Stakes.
Handicappers will find Oaklawn one of the most straightforward puzzles as the meet settles. All racing is on dirt and only four distances are generally in use (5 1/2- and 6-furlong sprints, as well as routes at one mile as well as one mile and one-sixteenth).
Key Oaklawn Betmix Stats (2021-22 Season)
Favorites Win: 36%
Average Win Odds: 5.8-1
Top Jockeys: David Cabrera (65 wins, 17%), Francisco Arrieta (65 wins, 16%), Ricardo Santana Jr. (57 wins, 18%), Ramon Vazquez (43 wins, 15%), Florent Geroux (30 wins, 18%)
Top Trainers: Steve Asmussen (65 wins, 17%), Robertino Diodoro (42 wins, 19%), Brad Cox (31 wins, 24%), John Ortiz (27 wins, 22%), Karl Broberg (27 wins, 18%), Chris Hartman (23 wins, 22%)
Also this week, the Southern California racing scene shifts to Los Alamitos on Friday. The short stand – six days (Dec. 9-11, 16-18) – leads into Santa Anita’s traditional Dec. 26 opening day of its newly named Classic Meet. Los Alamitos hosts the Grade 1 Starlet Stakes for 2-year-old fillies on Saturday. Bob Baffert goes for an unfathomably sixth Starlet in a row when he sends out sharp debut winner Faiza.
What To Watch For This Week
Fair Grounds presents eight stakes races Saturday for Louisiana Champions Day, all on dirt as the turf course remains on a maintenance timeout for another few weeks ... Gulfstream Park offers 2-year-old turf stakes on Saturday in the Pulpit and Wait A While … Golden Gate Fields has Saturday and Sunday stakes with the Bear Fan and Miss America, respectively … Sunday will be closing day of the racing year at Woodbine with mandatory payouts in all pools.
Friday Weekend Firestarter
Little-known trainer John Haran burst from the gate at the start of last December’s Oaklawn racing season, winning races at 9-1, 21-1 and 45-1 from only 10 starters … and adding a 72-1 shot that ran second! He has four horses entered on opening day Friday and you’ve been warned. They include: Race 3 (#4 Bicarb Betty, 20-1 ML), Race 4 (#7 Wipe the Slate, 20-1 ML), Race 5 (#11 Skyline, 9-2 ML) and Race 8 (#2 C.J.’s Storm, 30-1 ML).
1/ST BET App Top Handicapping Tracks of the Week
The free 1/ST BET app allows you to apply millions of data points across dozens of handicapping factors in mere seconds and immediately place your wagers. Here’s where the artificial intelligence was most dialed-in last week by win percentage:
43% Del Mar
38% Mahoning Valley
37% Remington Park
37% Tampa Bay Downs
Tracks With Most Reliable Favorites Last Week (By Win %)
55% Turf Paradise
53% Delta Downs
49% Mahoning Valley
47% Fair Grounds
Tracks That Were Longshot Havens Last Week (Most Winners 10-1 or More)
12 Gulfstream Park
5 Charles Town
America’s Hot Jockeys Last Week
Gerardo Coralles (11-24, 47%) // Turfway
Harry Hernandez (8-18, 44%) // Turf Paradise
Silvestre Gonzalez (7-16, 44%) // Parx, Aqueduct
Angel Rodriguez (7-16, 44%) // Parx, Laurel, Penn National
Flavien Prat (10-25, 40%) // Del Mar
America’s Hot Trainers Last Week
William Tharrenos (4-5, 80%) // Woodbine
Jorge Delgado (4-7, 56%) // Gulfstream, Tampa Bay Downs
Miguel Silva (4-7, 56%) // Fair Grounds, Remington
Marty Drexler (6-13, 46%) // Woodbine
Brendan Culp (5-13, 38%) // Penn National, Laurel
December Sweepstakes Continues All Month
Throughout December, every bet at 1/ST BET and Xpressbet enters players into random drawings at month’s end worth $20,000. Top prize is a $1,000 wagering credit.
– Statistics courtesy Betmix