The Razorback Handicap from Oaklawn looks like it should be a great betting race on Saturday, as a field of ten horses from the handicap division square off. Truth be told, I’m not sure how great this field is talent wise, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great race.
Alternation has established himself as an Oaklawn Park freak, winning five of his six starts over the surface. Breaking from post ten, I expect Luis Quinonez to have him sitting within three lengths of the pacesetters. His last effort in the Hawthorne Gold Cup is rather concerning to me – something clearly went wrong, as he hasn’t been seen in almost five months. If you go back and look at the rest of his efforts, he’s a respectable runner, but nothing blows me away. He has a victory over the classy Ron The Greek, but that was over the Oaklawn surface – which Alternation will have going for him tomorrow. He’s going to be a short price, but it’s hard to argue with his track record at Oaklawn Park. Alternation is definitely a player.
I’ve always been a fan of Raison d’Etat, but even I’m starting to believe he just can’t hack it with the upper echelon of horses. He probably needs some class relief, and ultimately will probably find his sweet spot running in the optional claiming ranks.
Donoharm ran a big race in his last effort, improving his career record to 2-2 at Oaklawn Park. In the Essex, he beat a horse that he’ll be facing in this race, as well, in San Pablo. Of the two, I’ve got to give the edge to San Pablo – first race off a two month layoff, I’m expecting him to be very tough tomorrow. Donoharm is definitely a contender, but I think he’s in the second flight…a “B” or a “C” kind of contender. San Pablo has shown before that he can run with some of the better horses in the country and hold his own, but I’m just not sure I want anyone at too short a price in this race.
I still have faith in Atigun – just not at any distance shorter than 9.5 furlongs. He’s shown that he can deliver a solid effort, but he definitely needs some more ground to get his legs moving. I think a change in tactics wouldn’t hurt, either – the Breeders’ Cup Marathon is contested at 14 furlongs, virtually unheard of in American racing. That said, this was the first time Atigun has been taken to the front and allowed to “do his thing”. In my opinion, if Mike Smith hadn’t moved so early on him, Atigun would have been home free in the Marathon. It won’t shock me if he runs a respectable race tomorrow, but I definitely think he needs some more ground to really flourish – maybe the 9.5 furlongs of the Pimlico Special? Hmmm…
I don’t think the last race put forth by Golden Ron was an aberration, and that’s why I’m picking him to win the Razorback Handicap. Throughout his career, Golden Ron has been asked to stalk or make one run which would more often than not fail. In the optional claimer last out, he was sent to the lead and very nearly got away with it, finishing a game second. Now in his third start under the training of Marcos Medrano, Golden Ron finds himself on the rail, in a field that lacks much pace and as the co-lightweight at 111 pounds. I expect Ramon Vazquez to send Golden Ron to the front and play, “Catch Me If You Can” with the rest of the field – and I don’t think they’ll be able to. I like Golden Ron to blow up the toteboard in the Grade III Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn Park.
SELECTION: 1 – Golden Ron, Ramon Vazquez; ML 20-1