By Joe Quillen
12/31/23 – Race 9 Oaklawn Park – Year’s End Stakes
It’s the final day of 2023, and it’s fitting that the final race I look at for 2023 is the Year’s End Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Seven juvenile fillies run a mile here. Weather will be fine here, so look for a fast track here.
For those that aren’t familiar with the Oaklawn race track configuration, the finish of a one-mile race is at the sixteenth pole, so you will have a short stretch to close in here. Hope that helps you when you do your handicapping here.
It looks like the 3 Asternia (20/1 morning line) is going to be on the lead here. She tried to do that last out at Churchill and was passed at the top of the stretch and faded. I think she fades here today as well. She will have a couple familiar fillies in this race from that one in late November.
The favorite Denim and Pearls (#7, 2/1 ML) going the one turn mile at Churchill and now goes the same distance here going two turns here at Oaklawn. The 5 Ice Cold (3/1 ML) was in that last race and rallied up for second after winning in a race going two turns at Horseshoe Indy.
An interesting horse is the 4 Neom Beach (5/1 ML) who might be near the front with Asternia. I think she is probably tracking behind the leader there, but it wouldn’t also surprise me that she’s on the lead with the 3 horse.
The 2 Tapit Jenallie (5/2 ML) looks like filly well suited for this race as he comes in from Delta Downs. Note that track is a three-quarters of a mile track, so technically she and the 1 Floating Beauty (6/1 ML) have gone two turns. It looks like Tapit Jenallie will make a move on the turn here like she did at Delta.
I’m expecting the same from Floating Beauty here. She had a powerful debut at Delta Downs over Thanksgiving weekend destroying a field of maidens by more than 16 lengths. She drew off and looks like she can handle running a route here. There is a bit of concern of being on the rail at the start, but if she can get off the rail by the time she’s on the backstretch or has clear run on the turn, she wins this race at a price.
I’m calling this race 1-2-4-5 and my final play of 2023 is $20 to win on the 1. Be on the look out for some additional articles here as I will be catching up with the road to the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks in the next few days or so.
Since it is New Year’s Eve, I have to leave with a touch of Philly and quote Eddie Murphy from “Trading Places”. Merry New Year everyone! See you in 2024!