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Rick Lee's Oaklawn Park selections and analysis

LEE'S LOCK Pray Hard in the first

BEST BET Thread the Needle in the seventh

LONG SHOT Salsa's Return in the fourth

*educated guess

**things to like

***plenty to like

****confident choice

1 Purse $23,000, 6 furlongs, 4-year-olds and up, starter allowance

****PRAY HARD has crossed the wire first in three of his past four races while competing on the Southern California circuit, and his Beyer figures are consistently fastest in this field. OUTRUN THE POSSE finished in the exacta nine times in 2017, and he ships from Churchill on the heels of a slightly troubled second-place finish in a $30k claiming race. VILLAGEOFVIBANK is an exceptionally quick sprinter who easily defeated $25,000 rivals last month at Woodbine, and the seven-time winner is dangerous if he transitions from synthetic-to-dirt.

PP HORSE;JOCKEY;TRAINER;ODDS

11 Pray Hard;Maldonado;O'Neill;5-2

8 Outrun the Posse;Cohen;Diodoro;7-2

13 Villageofvibank;Cabrera;McKnight;8-1

2 Conquest Hiosilver;Contreras;Hartman;10-1

12 Roberto Gato;Court;Anderson;4-1

7 J P Rocker;Loveberry;Silva;15-1

4 Bud Ro;Pompell;Holthus;15-1

10 Chubble Maker;Stevens;Stuart;8-1

5 Golden York;Birzer;Chleborad;15-1

14 Tiz Showbiz;Wethey;Young;10-1

1 Memphisinmay;Canchari;Lauer;20-1

9 Misterbulltoyou;Parker;Puhl;12-1

3 Senor Grits;Laviolette;Dixon;20-1

6 The Last Prophet;Perez;Litfin;20-1

2 Purse $28,000, 6 furlongs, 3-year-olds, maiden claiming $30,000

**ARTICULATOR was forwardly placed when third best in an encouraging debut at Keeneland, and he is dropping in class. Recent workouts have been swift and he picks up Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens. DESERT DOMINATION has finished in the money in three of his last four races competing in Southern California. His Beyer figures are very competitive, and he represents a winning California stable. MIGHTY OAKS MAGIC showed good early speed before fading in a career debut at Fair Grounds, but he is dropping out of a maiden-allowance race and may surprise if able to open a clear lead.

PP HORSE;JOCKEY;TRAINER;ODDS

3 Articulator;Stevens;Gowan;7-2

14 Desert Domination;Maldonado;Miller;3-1

5 Mighty Oaks Magic;De La Cruz;Cox;5-1

12 Zombo;Thompson;Gleason;6-1

6 Shakedown;Pompell;Holthus;9-2

4 You're Killin Me;Quinonez;Hobby;6-1

8 General Sherman;Birzer;Chleborad;8-1

11 Saber Rattler;Cabrera;Von Hemel;20-1

1 Always a Wiseguy;McMahon;Villafranco;10-1

2 Tre Lee Divine;Goncalves;Litfin;15-1

7 Deflater;Wethey;Cline;15-1

13 Brouillard;Stevens;Lukas;15-1

10 R Double Trouble;Meche;Howard;20-1

9 War Or Peace;Loveberry;Jayaraman;20-1

3 Purse $30,000, 6 furlongs, fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up, starter allowance

**BIG RED SEVEN dominated $16,000 claimers just two races back at Churchill Downs, and returns to a dirt surface following a competitive front-running second-place finish at Turfway. LIAM'S WORLD ships from New York after winning four of her last five trips to the post, and she possesses good speed and was claimed last out by high percentage trainer Robertino Diodoro. CLEOPATRA'S GOLD ships from Remington riding a two-race winning streak. She owns the field's fastest last-race Beyer figure and drew a good post for a sprinter with speed.

PP HORSE;JOCKEY;TRAINER;ODDS

7 Big Red Seven;Gazader;Vance;6-1

4 Liam's World;Maldonado;Diodoro;5-2

9 Cleopatra's Gold;Cohen;Morse;7-2

2 Queen Kate;Contreras;Villafranco;10-1

8 Dustem Carolina;Felix;Mason;4-1

1 Crack Your Whip;Garcia;Johnson;8-1

3 Like a Haint;Prescott;Garcia;8-1

6 Scatmeifucan;Cabrera;Hartman;12-1

5 Stay Spicy;Canchari;Williamson;15-1

4 Purse $24,000, 1 mile, 4-year-olds and up, claiming $12,500

**SALSA'S RETURN won at a much higher level in two wins last season, and he is dropping to the lowest price of his career. He seems to do his best running with time between races. OH NEWMAN finished third in two races at this claiming price at Del Mar. The front-running gelding has moved to a winning stable and sports good works over the winter at Turf Paradise. JOHNNY WHIP is the leading money-earner in the field. He has won three-of-five races at this 1-mile distance, and recorded a snappy bullet work Dec. 30 at Oaklawn.

PP HORSE;JOCKEY;TRAINER;ODDS

6 Salsa's Return;Thompson;Morse;6-1

5 Oh Newman;Cohen;Diodoro;9-2

3 Johnny Whip;Cabrera;Broberg;4-1

10 Moon Gate Warrior;McMahon;Caldwell;8-1

11 Lodi Street;Quinonez;Pish;12-1

12 Excessive;Birzer;Chleborad;12-1

4 Oh Oz;De La Cruz;Cristel;15-1

9 Wildwoodsgreatest;Gazader;Vance;5-1

7 Big Headed Jerry;Pompell;Smith;10-1

8 Royal Lion;Contreras;Villafranco;12-1

1 Small Town Hero;Parker;Puhl;20-1

13 Greeleys Charm;Thompson;Donaldson;15-1

14 Sabbatarian;Morales;Garcia;20-1

2 Dujac;Loveberry;Milligan;20-1

5 Purse $78,000, 6 furlongs, fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up, allowance optional claiming

**MARQUEE MISS is a stake-winning sprinter who suffered narrow defeats in the Spring Fever and American Beauty last season at Oaklawn, and she typically runs well when returning from vacation time. THOUGHTLESS won stake races at Prairie Meadows and Canterbury last season. She has never finished off-the-board in four races at Oaklawn and benefits from recent races in New Orleans. SWING AND SWAY is a restricted stakes winner who won two of three races last season at Oaklawn, and she finished her preparations with a bullet 5-furlong breeze Jan. 7.

PP HORSE;JOCKEY;TRAINER;ODDS

8 Marquee Miss;McMahon;Mason;4-1

9 Thoughtless;Canchari;Robertson;4-1

6 Swing and Sway;Cohen;Moquett;8-1

3 Kathballu;Hill;McPeek;5-2

1 Someday Soon;Thompson;Van Meter;6-1

4 Euro K Shotgun;Cabrera;Trout;10-1

2 Durango;Parker;Calhoun;8-1

7 Street Biz;Pompell;Delong;15-1

5 Profound Moment;Birzer;Van Berg;12-1

6 Purse $29,000, 1 1/16 Miles, 4-year-olds and up which have never won two races, Claiming $30,000.

***DANGERFIELD is a stakes winner around two turns, and the Southern California shipper holds a big class advantage. He possesses speed and drew an inside post. BURGAMEISTER finished second for the third consecutive race after surrendering a late lead in an entry-level allowance at Remington, and his good form and consistency must be respected. MIGHTY MANFRED was beaten 2 lengths at a slightly higher level just two back at Fair Grounds, and he returns to the main following a deceptive sixth-place finish on turf.

PP HORSE;JOCKEY;TRAINER;ODDS

3 Dangerfield;Maldonado;O'Neill;3-1

6 Burgameister;Parker;Milligan;4-1

2 Mighty Manfred;Loveberry;Robertson;6-1

9 Zip Van Winkle;Cabrera;Moquett;6-1

12 Superstyle;Wethey;Petalino;8-1

1 Your Secret's Safe;Cohen;Diodoro;6-1

8 Harangue;De La Cruz;Matthews;12-1

10 Tonbo;Birzer;Barkley;15-1

11 John's Legacy;Garcia;Morse;15-1

13 Brockton George;Hill;McPeek;15-1

5 Silver G T O;Gazader;Peitz;20-1

7 After Party;Contreras;McKnight;20-1

4 Andreas;Sanjur;Haran;30-1

7 Purse $75,000, 6 furlongs, fillies, 3-year-olds, maiden special weight

***THREAD THE NEEDLE had a slightly troubled start in a fast-closing second-place turf-sprint debut at Gulfstream, and she is a half-sister to two multiple stake-winners who were strictly dirt horses, and she represents a high percentage stable. GOLDEN ROSE showed excellent early speed in a third-place tune-up at Fair Grounds, and she is the one to catch under Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens. GOOD MOVE is an unraced filly who may have tipped her hand in a bullet gate drill last month at Fair Grounds. She is bred to be fast and hails from a stable that wins with this kind.

PP HORSE;JOCKEY;TRAINER;ODDS

8 Thread the Needle;Sarvis;Kobiskie;9-2

1 Golden Rose;Stevens;Catalano;5-1

4 Good Move;Bridgmohan;4-1

10 Spark Joy;Cabrera;Moquett;12-1

5 Party Club;McMahon;Lukas;10-1

7 Diamondcoat;Garcia;Gorder;10-1

2 Royal Road;Contreras;Asmussen;6-1

11 Oklahoma Long Shot;Parker;Gladd;8-1

6 Miss Darley;Cohen;Moquett;12-1

3 Bo Peep;Court;Fires;10-1

12 Traci's Greeley;Morales;Thomas;30-1

9 Shanghai Tariff;De La Cruz;DiVito;15-1

8 The Fifth Season. Purse $125,000, 1 1/16 miles, 4-year-olds and up.

**UNTRAPPED was caught six-wide through the second turn when placing second in the $200,000 Zia Park Derby. The beaten odds-on favorite kept graded company throughout 2017 and would have been a more confident choice if not for a tough post. DAZZLING GEM won two races at Oaklawn as a three-year-old previous to a fourth-place finish in the Arkansas Derby, and he was narrowly beaten last month at Remington in a race he likely needed after nine months on the sidelines. SHOTGUN KOWBOY won consecutive allowance races last winter at Oaklawn, and the exceptional Oklahoma-bred will pass the $1 million mark in earnings.

PP HORSE;JOCKEY;TRAINER;ODDS

11 Untrapped;Santana;Asmussen;3-1

9 Dazzling Gem;Bridgmohan;Cox;7-2

8 Shotgun Kowboy;Quinonez;Trout;6-1

12 Chief Know It All;Maldonado;Diodoro;10-1

5 Sticksstatelydude;Stevens;Burchell;5-1

4 Dan the Go to Man;Loveberry;Milligan;12-1

6 Goats Town;Court;Lukas;20-1

7 Royal Squeeze;Cohen;Morse;20-1

2 Futile;Prescott;Hartman;12-1

1 Far Right;Hill;Catalano;15-1

10 Sonneteer;McMahon;Desormeaux;12-1

3 Sightforsoreeyes;Canchari;Anderson;30-1

9 Purse $75,000, 6 furlongs, 3-year-olds and up, Arkansas-bred, maiden special weight.

**JUST A COINKYDINK should be fit following several 5- and 6-furlong breezes this fall at Churchill Downs. The unraced gelding was showing speed back in April and May for a sharp stable that obviously waited on the higher purses at Oaklawn. THE BOSS IS SAUCED has a nice pedigree for a state-bred colt and sports several speedy works at Fair Grounds for a trainer who has done exceptionally well with his young horses this winter in New Orleans. HAMAZING VISION rallied wide in a second-place career debut performance at Remington, and he drops into restricted company for a stable that wins at a much higher rate with second-time starters.

PP HORSE;JOCKEY;TRAINER;ODDS

2 Just a Coinkydink;Canchari;Hartman;9-2

10 The Boss Is Sauced;Bridgmohan;9-2

12 Hamazing Vision;Quinonez;Von Hemel;7-2

4 Calle Patron;Pompell;Gonzalez;8-1

9 Spanish Avenue;Contreras;Villafranco;8-1

6 Dub;Cabrera;Caldwell;6-1

13 Spotitude;McMahon;Cates;6-1

8 Japedo;Parker;Calhoun;12-1

3 Haus;Luzzi;Martin;10-1

11 It's Bellamy Time;Birzer;Roberts;15-1

1 Arkyarch;De La Cruz;Martin;20-1

5 Philly Boy;Wethey;Hornsby;20-1

7 Blu Blaze;Laviolette;Swearingen;20-1

14 Bandit Point;Thompson;Cline;20-1

EXOTIC POSIBILITIES

• The early double is playable with two large fields, and a solid "key" horse in the first race in Pray Hard. The second race is more competitive and using as many as four runners is reasonable. Thread the Needle is a horse to put on top in trifecta or superfecta wagers in the seventh race. A strategy in trifecta wagering is to use all contenders and possible sleepers in the two hole, and save money by narrowing the third spot to three of maybe four horses.

Sports on 01/12/2018

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