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Best Horse Racing Bets Today | Oaklawn Park, April 20

Written by: Brian Zipse
Published April 19, 2024
11 min read

As the racing world awaits the Kentucky Derby, now just two weeks away, there is plenty of good racing to watch in the meantime. This week, we turn our attention to Hot Springs, Arkansas and Oaklawn Park. Leading the way during a strong card of Saturday racing will be the $1.25 million Oaklawn Handicap. The big race for older males has attracted a deep field of eleven topped by multiple graded stakes winners Skippylongstocking and Red Route One. 

Two other stakes races will bolster the afternoon menu. Sophomore colts and fillies will look to jumpstart their seasons in the Bath House Row Stakes and Valley of the Vapors Stakes, respectively. In the Bath House Row, Maximus Magic will look to keep his good Oaklawn Park form going in his stakes debut, while Winnable looks for her first stakes win in the Valley of the Vapors. Without further ado, let’s get to my best bets from this solid card of racing.

Oaklawn Park Horse Race Ground Horse Racing Bets April 20

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Race #8 Allowance $140,000 1 1/16-Miles Dirt - 4:52pm EST

After a pair of unsuccessful tries against some of the best horses of his foal crop, Awesome Ruta will look to take advantage of a class drop when he faces eight other 3-year-old males in a $140,000 on Saturday at Oaklawn Park. 

Off the board in both the Louisiana Derby and Risen Star, won by top Kentucky Derby candidates Catching Freedom and Sierra Leone, in his last two, the son of Mendelssohn will be in search of his first victory since a nine-length maiden score last September. He is just one of several potential winners in this wide-open 8 1/2-furlong heat, however.

Pappy’s Revenge comes off a pair of solid third-place efforts against this class and finished just ahead of the Steve Asmussen-trained Give Me a Reason last time. Both figure to be factors here, as does Ethan Energy from the barn of Brad Cox. A troubled fifth last time, he finished fourth in the Grade 3 Lecomte in the start before that.

Another one that should not be ignored is the returning Kenny McPeek-trainee Call the Cavalry. A debut winner at Belmont Park, he was fifth in the Grade 3 Sanford at Saratoga last summer and this will be his first race since. In a tricky race, I believe Give Me a Reason is the most likely winner. Still lightly raced, the gray should still have room for improvement. He is my top pick.

My Plays

  • $20 Win & Place - Give Me a Reason = $40

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Race #9 Bath House Row Stakes $200,000 1 1/8-Miles Dirt- 5:32pm EST

In a race with no clear favorite, Maximus Magic could be the one to beat among a field of eight sophomore males in Saturday’s $200,000 Bath House Row Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

Already twice a winner this year at the Hot Springs oval, the son of Maximus Mischief comes off a pair of game performances in his last two starts. In February, he was a stubborn second in a strong allowance race, and then in March he would not be passed late in another solid field. Trained by Norm McKnight, he should not be discounted in his stakes debut.

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen counters with a pair of colts coming out of the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby. Neither Imperial Gun nor Informed Patriot threatened that day, but could capitalize in the drop in class on Saturday.

Second to Maximus Magic last time, Count Dracula is another who merits respect in this 9-furlong race, as does recent maiden winner Militant. I actually think the Brad Cox-trainee Militant might have the most upside in the race. Hoping for a step forward in his third career outing, the son of Quality Road will be the top pick.

My Plays

  • $5 Exacta Part Wheel - Militant over Maximus Magic, Count Dracula, Informed Patriot, Imperial Gun and Brilliant Man = $25

  • $5 Exacta Part Wheel - Maximus Magic, Count Dracula, Informed Patriot, Imperial Gun and Brilliant Man over Militant = $25

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Race #10 Valley of the Vapors Stakes $200,000 1-Mile Dirt - 6:12pm EST

A solid runner-up in her stakes debut last time at Turfway Park, Winnable looks to do one better this time when she takes on ten other 3-year-old fillies in the $200,000 Valley of the Vapors Stakes on Saturday at Oaklawn Park.

Trained by Kenny McPeek, the daughter of Justify was an impressive debut winner, also at Turfway Park, in her only other career start. In the Bourbonette Oaks, she faced a strong field and was game down the lane to hold second in the field of ten. Saturday’s test in Arkansas will be her first try on dirt, but she has worked well over the main track.

Chief among her competition in the one mile affair is the Steve Asmussen-trained  Neom Beach. After three consecutive competitive performances in stakes races at Oaklawn Park, the daughter of Omaha Beach won last time when dropped into allowance company.

Several other fillies in the field come in with solid stakes experience, as well, and they include Blue Squall, Candy Aisle, and Midshipman’s Dance. All are in with a shot on Saturday. The first two starts of Winnable, however, are too good to ignore, and she will be my top pick.

My Plays 

  • $50 Win - Winnable = $50

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Race #11 Oaklawn Handicap (Grade 2) $1,250,000 1 1/8-Miles Dirt- 6:52pm EST

Each impressive graded stakes winners in their most recent starts, Skippylongstocking and Red Route One headline a wide open field of eleven older males looking for the top prize in Saturday’s $1.25 million Oaklawn Handicap.

A millionaire son of Exaggerator, Skippylongstocking could be the lukewarm favorite after a sharp win in the Grade 3 Challenger at Tampa Bay Downs last time out. One of two in the race from the barn of Saffie Joseph, Jr., the 5-year-old finished a good third in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile three starts back, and has won five graded stakes races in his last eleven starts overall.

Red Route One, meanwhile, comes off a late-running score in the Grade 2 New Orleans Classic for trainer Steve Asmussen, who also has two in the race. The 4-year-old Gun Runner colt also counts the Grade 3 West Virginia Derby among his four career victories. 

Others in the field to consider include the Grade 3 Razorback winner Octane, as well as the third and fourth place finishers in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap, Reincarnate and Highland Falls. I also will give a long look at Instant Coffee. The two-time graded stakes winner returned with a decent effort after a long layoff last time and should be ready to move forward. He will be my top pick for the upset.

My Play

  • $5 Exacta Part Wheel - Instant Coffee over Skippylongstocking, Red Route One, Reincarnate, Highland Falls, Octane, and Last Samurai = $30

  • $5 Exacta Part Wheel - Skippylongstocking, Red Route One, Reincarnate, Highland Falls, Octane, and Last Samurai over Instant Coffee = $30

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AUTHOR

Brian Zipse

293 Articles

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

Email: [email protected]

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