Best Horse Racing Bets Today | Oaklawn Park, February 24

Written by: Brian Zipse
Published February 23, 2024
6 min read
Best Horse Racing Bets Today Oaklawn Park, February 24
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The richest prep yet for the 2024 Kentucky Derby will be run on Saturday at Oaklawn Park as a field of 13 sophomore colts has been entered in the $1.25 million Rebel Stakes. Leading the way is the returning Timberlake, a Grade 1 winner last season, he will be making his first since finishing fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall at Santa Anita.

The Arkansas racetrack will also host three solid supporting stakes races before the Rebel, including the Grade 3 Honeybee, for Kentucky Oaks hopefuls, and the Grade 3 Razorback for the older males. West Omaha and Ain’t Life Grand are the respective morning line favorites in each. Without further ado, let’s take a look at my best bets from the quartet of stakes races at Oaklawn Park. 

Race #8 Carousel Stakes $150,000 6 Furlongs Dirt - 4:35pm EST

Both sporting two-race winning streaks, Mucho Macho Girl and Zeitlos will vie for favoritism among a field of nine older female sprinters in the $150,000 Carousel Stakes on Saturday at Oaklawn Park.

Trained by Dallas Stewart, Mucho Macho Girl is the much more lightly raced of the pair of 4-year-old fillies in this 6-furlong test. A daughter of Mucho Macho Man, she has raced only four times and won three of them. A debut winner last March, she failed behind Zeitlos in her return race last fall at Keeneland, but has bounced back with two strong wins at Fair Grounds in December and January.

Her rival Zeitlos has been very consistent in the allowance company for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. First or second in seven of her last eight races, the Curlin filly won a strong allowance race at Churchill Downs two starts back, before coming to Arkansas and scoring in a sloppy track win three weeks ago.

The fourth-place finisher in the recent American Beauty Stakes at Oaklawn, Let’s Be Clear is the most likely third choice in the field of nine. Two starts back, the daughter of Munnings was a sharp allowance winner over the track with a big late run. The top two look tough here, though. In a tight call, I prefer the experience of Zeitlos. She is the top pick.

My Play

  • $20 Exacta Box - Zeitlos and Mucho Macho Girl = $40

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Race #9 Honeybee Stakes (Grade 3) $400,000 1 1/16 Miles Dirt- 5:10pm EST

Looking to announce herself as a top threat for the Kentucky Oaks in a few months, West Omaha looks like the filly to beat in a field of ten sophomore fillies entered in Saturday’s Grade 3 Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

Trained by Brad Cox, the Omaha Beach filly began her 3-year-old season with an impressive five-length score in the Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds five weeks ago. It was the best race yet for the Gary and Mary West homebred, who has run well and progressed in each of her four career starts. 

Chief among her opponents in this 1 1/16-mile test will be Band of Gold. A gray Preservationist filly, she has won two of three career starts for trainer Kenny McPeek. A determined winner in her career debut at Churchill Downs, she rebounded from a fifth-place effort in the Untapable Stakes in New Orleans, to score an easy win in the Martha Washington Stakes last out at Oaklawn. 

Another intriguing option in the Honeybee is the Tom Amoss-trained Alys Beach. In three races as a juvenile, she raced against nothing but top company. Last seen running third in the Grade 1 Alcibiades last fall, the daughter of Omaha Beach is working well for her return. I can’t look past West Omaha as the one to beat here, however. She is the top pick. 

My Play

  • $10 Exacta Box - West Omaha, Alys Beach, and Band of Gold = $60

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Race #10 Razorback Handicap (Grade 3) $600,000 1 1/16 Miles Dirt - 5:45pm EST

A full field of 13 older males has been entered for a shot at the lion’s share of a big $600,000 purse in Saturday’s Grade 3 Razorback Handicap. Ain’t Life Grand has been tabbed as a lukewarm favorite in the wide-open field.

Bred in Iowa, the 5-year-old son of Not This Time has won 8-of-14 career starts, which includes seven stakes wins. Most of those came at Prairie Meadows in his home state, but he did win a stakes race at Oaklawn Park last spring. As good as he has been in his career to date, it is worth noting that he failed in his seasonal debut at this oval in each of the last two years.

Octane is another in the field who will merit plenty of respect. The 5-year-old gelding has been a solid competitor throughout his career and comes off a solid second-place effort in the Sunshine Classic last month at Gulfstream Park. Three starts back he earned his second career stakes win at the same Florida oval.

A big threat to the morning line choice should also come from the Steve Asmussen runner Magic Tap. A son of Tapit, he won his first try at Oaklawn Park with a determined move, splitting horses six weeks ago. The competition will be a little stronger this time around, but the winner of 3-of-7 lifetime is no stranger to quality opposition. He is the top pick.

My Play 

  • $20 Win & Place - Magic Tap = $40

  • $10 Exacta Box - Magic Tap and Notary = $20

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Race #11 Rebel Stakes (Grade 2) $1,250,000 1 1/16 Miles Dirt - 6:23pm EST

In the afternoon’s feature event, Timberlake looms as a solid choice among a deep field of 13 Kentucky Derby hopefuls set to do battle in the $1.25 million Rebel Stakes on Saturday at Oaklawn Park.

Off since early November, when he finished fourth behind the champion Fierceness, the son of Into Mischief is the class of the race. Trained by Brad Cox, he was a romping winner in his second career start. Since that victory, he has only run in Grade 1 races, running second in the Hopeful at Saratoga, before easily winning the Champagne Stakes at Aqueduct. 

Trainer Steve Asmussen looks to have the best chance to upset the favorite in the 1 1/16-mile Rebel with a trio of interesting candidates. Foremost among them could be the lightly raced Dimatic, who is improving with each start and looked good winning his maiden at Oaklawn last out. Both of Asmussen’s other two, Carbone and Lagynos cannot be ignored.

Just Steel, from the barn of D. Wayne Lukas, is the second choice on the morning line. The stakes winning son of Justify has finished second in both the Smarty Jones and Grade 3 Southwest Stakes already this year. If Timberlake comes back at his best, he should win, but after the layoff, I will take a shot to beat him with Dimatic. He is the top pick. 

My Play

  • $20 Win & Place - Dimatic = $40

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Brian Zipse

Horse Racing Betting Analyst

Horse Racing
Betting Picks
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.
Nationality: American
Education: Bachelor of Communications
Favourite Sportsbook: FanDuel Sportsbook
Favourite Casino: BetMGM Casino
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