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Handicapping the Curtis Sampson Oaks with OptixEQ

Emily Gullikson of OptixEQ


Respected horseplayer, and former Star Tribune Handicapper, Steve Davidowitz would push “class on the turf” and as much as class is key in these turf stakes events, pace also makes the race. The pace as shown on OptixPLOT with the “yellow” PlotFit has a “chaotic” feel with the lack of Surface/Distance data. The Standard (current form) Plot shows a Contentious (Sun) Quad I (early pace) paired with a higher 89 SpeedRate, a scenario regardless of trip requires finishing ability and upgrades the Squares.


Both class and pace are in play for morning line favorite #9 SARANYA showing up here for Brad Cox. Saranya holds a class edge exiting the Appalachian (G2) back in April at Keeneland; a race that has held form with the horses coming out of that race turning in competitive efforts at the graded stakes level in their next starts. Geroux changed her running style that afternoon from a presser/closer (PC) to push the pace and tracked the eventual pacesetting winner, Jouster. Saranya was not as effective as she was unable to hold her position lacking any excuse in terms of trip. Referencing back to OptixPLOT, she should return to an off-the-pace style here positioned in Quad IV and set up her late run with the Contention and SpeedRate to close into. It is also worth mentioning that connections picked this spot, scratching out of the Regret (G3) at Churchill last month.

HERE for OptixFOCUS of race 3

#5 AMALFI PRINCESS projects to be the alternative selection given her speed figures and class for trainer Mike Maker. Physically she looks the part of a turf horse (OptixNOTES) though surface did not seem to be her excuse in the Penn Oaks last month. She had a favorable trip in that four horse field, tracking right off the eventual winner, Orbs Baby Girl, and lacked the stamina to hold position losing ground in the lane. She still has yet to prove herself at the route of ground and that remains questionable and something to factor in terms of value.

#8 SPRITZ also looks to benefit from a surface change as she will make her second start of the form cycle following the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes on the main track at Pimlico last month. She did not seem to handle the track or running behind horses. She showed as much when briefly behind runners in the Bourbonette Oaks before making an early move to take the lead going into the far turn and gamely held place behind the Brad Cox trainee, Adventuring. Connections also showing positive intent to run in this stakes race, noting a scratch on June 5th at Churchill Downs out of an allowance race with a similar purse to today’s event. In terms of position on OptixPLOT, Spritz is shown as a Quad I Circle on Standard and would be willing to take that position/shape lightly with the Black-Eyed Susan race impacting her position today and prior to this event had been a Square in every other race in her career.

#3 BECCA’S ROCKET will return to a preferred route of ground as she makes her third start of the form cycle and connections looking to get her back on the turf noting a scratch on June 4th from the Panthers Stakes at Prairie Meadows. Her OptixFIG stack up on par and physically is suited to the route of ground with experience and form on the turf. She caught a well-meant, Brad Cox runner, Inject, in the Goldfinch Stakes and turned in a good effort behind that open length winner. #4 HEART FULL OF SOUL also will return here from the Goldfinch Stakes and while she had trouble that evening has the surface and distance challenges here making her route and turf debut. The track that day was listed as “muddy” though in my opinion appeared more on the faster side. Heart Full of Soul exiting the sprint races project to run to the Standard Quad I position showing early speed and though unknown (Diamond) for the Surface/Distance. She is slightly below in terms of class with the C+ OptixGRADES in her recent stakes races with the edge of that pair to Becca’s Rocket.

Class is light for both #2 DON’TPASSTHEPEPPER and #6 XTREMA coming out of their recent local allowance races. Don’tpassthepepper had benefit of some favorable rides at Turf Paradise but “Don’tpass” is an accurate name for her as she is a bit ploddy, lacks lead changes and grit as she does not like to pass horses. Xtrema has upside off the legit trouble on June 3rd making her first start on this circuit and first off the claim/layoff for Heitzmann. She has some back class to support a move forward though would need a career best to win; at the right price could be included. Class, pace, and speed are well below par for maiden #1 CHURCH SERVICE and for #7 PRETTY IN PINK coming out of the June 2nd turf event.