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Best Horse Racing Bets Today | Oaklawn Park, March 16

Written by: Brian Zipse
Published March 16, 2024
8 min read

With a week off before the big Kentucky Derby prep races come back in full force, we shift our attention to Hot Springs, Arkansas and Oaklawn Park. Sprinters will be the name of the game on Saturday, led by the males in the Grade 3 Whitmore Stakes and the females in the Purple Martin Stakes.

In the Whitmore, multiple stakes winning older males Tejano Twist and Ryvit renew acquaintances as the two headliners in the six furlong test. Two races earlier in the card, Xtreme Diva will look to make it three straight wins at Oaklawn Park when she tops a field of six sophomore fillies also going six furlongs in the Purple Martin. Without further ado, let’s get to my best bets from a quartet of races during the solid afternoon of racing.

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Race #7 Purple Martin Stakes $200,000 6-Furlongs Dirt - 4:10pm EST

Four times a winner in six career starts, including her last two at Oaklawn Park, Xtreme Diva looks like the one to beat among a compact field of six sophomore fillies sprinting in Saturday’s Purple Martin Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

A Minnesota-bred daughter of Coal Front, she earned a hard-earned nose victory over Blue Squall in the Dixie Belle Stakes four weeks ago. It was her second February win at Oaklawn Park, having scored a game allowance win two weeks earlier for trainer McLean Robertson.

Just a nose short from victory in the Dixie Belle, Blue Squall will be back in hopes of doing one better on Saturday. The gray Tapwrit filly has won only once in five starts, but has run well in each race. Before her narrow miss last time in her stakes debut, she bested the highly regarded Lemon Muffin in a local maiden event.

Another filly to watch in this six furlong test is the Chris Hartman-trained Brooklynn Drew. After an awkward run in her debut, which came on the grass, the Army Mule filly came back to win impressively going 5 1/2 furlongs at Fair Grounds. I believe that win last month in New Orleans puts her in the mix here. In a tough little race, however, Blue Squall will be my top pick.

My Play

  • $10 Exacta Part Wheel - Blue Squall over Xtreme Diva and Brooklynn Drew = $20

  • $10 Exacta Part Wheel - Xtreme Diva and Brooklynn Drew over Blue Squall = $20

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Race #9 Whitmore Stakes (Grade 3) $250,000 6-Furlongs Dirt - 5:23pm EST

Already first and second in a pair of stakes races this meeting at Oaklawn Park, Tejano Twist will look to add to his success on Saturday when he headlines a field of seven older male sprinters in the Grade 3 Whitmore Stakes.

A 5-year-old gelded son of Practical Move, the multiple stakes winner Tejano Twist has proven himself a formidable late runner in any sprint race around the country. With nine wins and seven seconds out of 29 career races, the Chris Hartman-trainee has bankrolled over $1.2 million dollars. Having never finished out of the money in six starts at Oaklawn, he is the defending race champion.

A year younger, but also a multiple stakes winner, Ryvit looks to be the top one’s main competition in here. A stakes winner at four different tracks last year, including Oaklawn, the Steve Asmussen-trained runner geared up for his second shot at Tejano Twist by easily winning a local allowance race three weeks ago.

Looking to upset the top two will be the speedy Ninja Warrior. Trained by Robertino Diodoro, the 5-year-old chestnut lacks the stakes experience of Tejano Twist and Ryvit, but has won three of his last four while sprinting at Oaklawn Park. I really do expect Tejano Twist to roll by them all down the stretch, however, and he will be the top pick.

My Play

  • $50 Win - Tejano Twist = $50

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Race #10 Allowance $141,000 1-Mile Dirt- 5:54pm EST

Away since running a decent race in last spring’s Kentucky Derby, Rocket Man returns on Saturday to make his first start as an older horse in this one mile allowance race at Oaklawn Park.

Trained by the Hall of Famer Bill Mott, the 4-year-old Into Mischief won his seasonal debut last year in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Good efforts in both the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and Grade 1 Arkansas Derby followed, earning him a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate where he faded a bit off the fast pace to finish mid-pack in the big field. Working well for his return, he is clearly the one to beat here.

Chief among his competition on Saturday will be a pair of stakes experienced colts in Harlocap and Heroic Move. The former comes off a nice allowance score four weeks ago over the track for trainer Steve Asmussen. Second by a nose in last year’s Texas Derby, he looks to be rounding into top form.

Heroic Move, meanwhile, also comes into this affair off a sharp Oaklawn allowance score, his coming three weeks ago. Competitive in five different minor derbies around North America last year, he would also seem to fit in well in this $141,000 allowance race. Still, it’s hard to look past the class of the favorite. Rocket Can is the top pick.

My Plays 

  • $20 Exacta - Rocket Can over Harlocap and Heroic Move = $40

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Race #11 Maiden Special Weight $115,000 6-Furlongs Dirt - 6:30pm EST

In the afternoon’s final race at Oaklawn Park, an overflow field of 14 Arkansas-breds have been entered in this six furlong maiden special weight. Second and third in a same condition race last month, Runninthestreets and Q’s Your Mama look to vie for favoritism in this six furlong race.

A 5-year-old daughter of Street Strategy, Runninthestreets has been knocking on the door of breaking her maiden for some time. In fact, the bay mare has finished second five consecutive times, including the last two at Oaklawn. An obvious threat here, she will look to do her best running down the stretch on Saturday

Q’s Your Mama, meanwhile, will be making only her second career start here. The Coal Front filly flashed some good early speed in her debut, before succumbing in the late stages on the sloppy track to finish third behind Runninthestreets. Any improvement in her second career start makes her a serious player here. 

Several others in the big field are in with a shot in this one. I find Sparkly to be the most intriguing of the bunch. Trained by Earlie Fires, the daughter of Mark Valeski has also made only one start. After a hesitation out of the gate, she hustled up to get in contention from her far outside post and just faded a bit in the stretch to finish fourth. With improvement expected the second time out, she is the top pick.

My Play

  • 10 Exacta -  Sparkly over Runninthestreets, Q’s Your Mama, and My Julia = $30

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AUTHOR

Brian Zipse

288 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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