Effinex and Upstart Set to Face Off in $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap
On Saturday at Oaklawn Park, the stakes action will continue with the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap. Scheduled to be run at a mile and an eighth on the main track, the Grade 2 has drawn a competitive field of eight colts and geldings.
Effinex has been installed as the morning line favorite at odds of 2-1 for trainer James Jerkens. A five-year-old son of Mineshaft, he has won seven of his 21 starts and is a multiple graded stakes winner. He made his first start since winning the Clark Handicap (G1) last fall last time out in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) and finished third. He has been training forwardly since that race and will have Mike Smith aboard from post position eight.
Upstart a proven winner at Oaklawn
Second choice at morning line odds of 7-2 is Upstart for trainer Rick Violette, Jr. A four-year-old son of Flatter, he has been on the board in nine of his twelve starts and is trying to earn his fifth victory. He made his return off of a six month layoff a winning one in the Razorback Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn Park last time out. Joe Bravo will be aboard and they will break from post position two.
Blofeld in sharp form back off layoff
Also in the field at morning line odds of 4-1 is Blofeld for trainer Todd Pletcher. A four-year-old son of Quality Road, he has four wins from seven starts and is coming out of a sharp victory in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) last time out. It was his second start since returning off of a layoff. John Velazquez will be in the irons and they are scheduled to break from the rail.
For all the negative buzz about Nyquist's average speed figures and vulnerability, the newly crowned and much-deserving 2016 Kentucky Derby winner might just have the most impeccable credentials of any Derby winner in the illustrious history of the race - and certainly in the modern era.
On Friday at Churchill Downs, the field has been set for the 142nd running of the $1 million Kentucky Oaks. The Grade 1 event, carded at a mile and an eighth, has drawn a full field of fourteen three-year-old fillies with one listed as an also-eligible.
With the final round of Kentucky Derby preps in the books, it seems improbable, but arguable that the March 12 Tampa Derby was the most useful and review-worthy of the 24 official point-bearing races in 2016.