Oaklawn Handicap (Oaklawn Park) Predictions, Picks & Betting Odds

Oaklawn Handicap

If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Express Train (5/2)

Oaklawn Handicap Post Position and Odds

Check out our predictions and odds for the 2021 Oaklawn Handicap at Oaklawn Park!

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
R Santana Jr S Asmussen
J J Hernandez J Shirreffs
I Ortiz Jr T Pletcher
E Gonzalez B Cox
F Arrieta C Contreras
F Geroux B Cox
R A Vasquez F Villafranco
D Cabrera S Asmussen

Best Bets for the Oaklawn Handicap

Here are my plays ($36 in total)

$2 Trifecta key – Express Train over Warrior’s Charge, Silver State, Fearless and Owendale = $24

$1 Trifecta key – Warrior’s Charge over Express Train, Silver State, Fearless and Owendale = $12

Top Pick:

Express Train (5/2)

Out of town shippers Express Train and Fearless headline a competitive field of eight older males set to compete in the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap on Saturday at Oaklawn Park.

One of the top older horses in Southern California this winter, Express Train looks to prove he can do it away from home for trainer John Shirreffs. The son of Union Rags has turned in three excellent races in a row, finishing second behind Charlatan in the Grade 1 Malibu, before a convincing win in the Grade 2 San Pasqual. Most recently, he was a game runner-up, splitting Idol and Maxfield, in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap.

Fearless, trained by the red-hot Todd Pletcher, comes in off a handy score in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Mile. It was his first stakes win and also his first race in eight months. Top rider Irad Ortiz Jr. visits Hot Springs to pilot the gelded son of Ghostzapper

The hottest horse in the race is Silver State, trained by Steve Asmussen. On the Kentucky Derby trail early last year, before a physical setback knocked him off, the son of Hard Spun has won four in a row. In his last two, he scored hard-fought victories over the track in the Fifth Season Stakes and Essex Handicap.

Multiple graded stakes winner Owendale is another who should get plenty of wagering support. A son of Into Mischief, he just missed last out when second by a head-bob in the Grade 2 New Orleans Classic as the favorite.

How to Watch the Oaklawn Handicap

Oaklawn Handicap Race Information
What Oaklawn Handicap (Grade 2)
Where Oaklawn Park
When Saturday, April 17 — 4:49pm Central time
How to Watch TVG
Purse $1,000,000

Race Analysis

Express Train

After missing nearly a year, well into his 3-year-old season, this talented son of Union Rags has really come around for veteran trainer John Shirreffs. Save the turf experiment last October, he has gotten better with each start and now looks like a legitimate player among the older male division. In the Big Cap last time, he made a winning move from his stalking position, only to be run down late. That came against some tough customers and was an excellent performance. Now he leaves to race outside of Southern California for the first time. If he can bring his good form of late from his home base to Oaklawn Park, he looms the horse to beat on Saturday.


Well backed for much of his lightly raced career, this 5-year-old son of Ghostzapper got a couple of chances against good graded stakes horses last year and was not able to seriously threaten in either. Perhaps he just needed more experience. His return race in the Gulfstream Park Mile was impressive but came against a cut below what he will see on Saturday. Trained by Todd Pletcher, he should be in great shape for this test. Having Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the saddle can’t hurt either. He’s not my top pick, but he is an obvious threat.

Silver State

The first of two from Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, this son of Hard Spun has been handled well after a seven-month layoff. His four consecutive victories since his return in late October, feature enough tactical speed to be involved early, followed by a tenacious drive for the wire. Always thought to be talented, the Oaklawn Handicap appears to be his toughest test yet. We know he has learned how to win, now we’ll get to see if he can beat solid graded stakes horses. Drawn the rail, look for a stalking trip, with him right in it as the field turns for home. He is a threat to win it all.


The first of two trained by Brad Cox, this son of Into Mischief has been a mainstay in graded stakes racing in the Midwest the past few years. He’s lost more than he’s won, but he often tries hard and is involved in the stretch run, including last time in a tough beat in the New Orleans Classic. With a speedy stablemate in the field, he should be able to sit farther off the pace this time, which I believe he prefers. There are a few in here who may have more upside, but if you are looking for a dependable horse, likely to be involved, this one fits the bill.

Warrior’s Charge

A good runner-up in this race last year behind the classy By My Standards, this speedy runner from the Brad Cox barn has not quite lived up to expectations of late. Having said that, he has only had one race this season, and the second-place finish should serve as an adequate prep. As the only true speed in the race, he should be able to dictate things early. There are a lot of good horses who figure to challenge him, but if he is left alone for long enough he might just get more than a minor share on Saturday.

Silver Prospector

The second one in the field trained by Asmussen, this son of Declaration of War was also on the Kentucky Derby trail last spring before being sidelined. He hasn’t quite met with the success found by Silver State, but he has been put into some difficult spots. This will be another one on Saturday, but a graded stakes winner in each of his first two seasons, he can not be totally dismissed. At his best, he merits consideration.

Rated R Superstar

Here’s a horse who’s been there and done that. A veteran of 50 races, on occasion he has been able to fire some serious races. His last strong performance came last out when he rallied for second behind Silver State in the Essex. The effort pushed him over the $1 million barriers in career earnings. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been one to consistently threaten graded stakes horses, and even a repeat of the last one probably will not be good enough against this field.

Guest Suite

The 7-year-old son of Quality Road earned a spot in the Oaklawn Handicap with a nice win locally on March 25, edging by Warrior’s Charge in a one-mile allowance. While the win was solid, and he is a stakes winner at Oaklawn Park, he has never defeated a field as deep and talented as he will see in this million-dollar race. Perhaps he can rally into the bottom of the exotics, but I like too many others to get serious about this veteran.

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Brian Zipse

Expert on Horse Racing

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]