‘Weird Draw’ Shouldn’t Hurt Accelerate In Oaklawn Handicap

Grade 1 winner and millionaire Accelerate is the 9-5 program favorite for the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses Saturday at Oaklawn.

Probable post time for the 1 1/8-mile Oaklawn Handicap, the 10th of 12 races on the closing-day card, is 5:40 p.m. (Central). Doors open Saturday at 10:30 a.m., with a special first post of 12:35 p.m. and the infield will be open.

Accelerate surpassed $1 million in career earnings in his last start, a sparkling 5 ½-length victory in the $600,000 Santa Handicap (G1) March 10 at Santa Anita. A son of champion Lookin At Lucky, he is scheduled to break from post 10 under Victor Espinoza and shoulder top weight of 123 pounds.

“It’s kind of a weird draw, with the speed horse (City of Light) outside us,” said John Sadler, who trains Accelerate for Hronis Racing LLC. “We’re way outside. His best races are being in it, so I see him probably being second or something like that the first part.”

The projected 11-horse Oaklawn Handicap field from the rail out: Malibu Max, Marcelino Pedroza to ride, 112 pounds, 20-1 on the morning line; Lookin At Lee, Luis Saez, 114, 20-1; Sonneteer, Richard Eramia, 20-1, 114; Untrapped, Ricardo Santana Jr., 115, 10-1; Hawaakom, Corey Lanerie, 117, 10-1; Colonelsdarktemper, Jon Court, 115, 20-1; Hedge Fund, Florent Geroux, 116, 4-1; Inside Straight, David Cohen, 116, 15-1; Blueridge Traveler, Channing Hill, 113, 15-1; Accelerate, Victor Espinoza, 123, 9-5; and City of Light, Drayden Van Dyke, 120, 3-1.

City of Light will be making his two-turn debut for trainer Mike McCarthy after winning the $400,000 Triple Bend Stakes (G1) at 7 furlongs March 10 at Santa Anita.

McCarthy said he had planned to ship City of Light to Oaklawn for the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) Feb. 19, but scrapped the trip because of weather concerns. The Razorback was 1 1/16 miles.

City of Light entered the Triple Bend off another 7-furlong victory in the $300,000 Malibu Stakes (G1) Dec. 26 at Santa Anita. Like Accelerate, the Oaklawn Handicap will be City of Light’s first start outside California.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think that we’ve got the best of post positions,” McCarthy said. “My horse has a lot of natural speed. Establishing a position into the first turn, I think, is going to be paramount for us. We’d like to go ahead and do that without really having to ask him too much.”

Hawaakom will be making his first start since a ground-saving victory in the Razorback. Hedge Fund was a sharp winner of the $300,000 Essex Handicap March 17, the final major local prep for the Oaklawn Handicap.

Defending champion Inside Straight exits a March 3 allowance victory at Turf Paradise for Robertino Diodoro, Oaklawn’s second-leading trainer this year.

Diodoro said he will be “very disappointed” if Inside Straight runs poorly Saturday because of the way he’s trained leading up to the race.

“He’s nothing to look at, he’s not a fancy-looking horse,” Diodoro said. “We know him well enough to see that he’s a very happy horse right now and just couldn’t ask for the horse to be training any better.”

The Southern California-based Sonneteer won the $125,000 Fifth Season Stakes Jan. 12, the first of three major local preps for the Oaklawn Handicap.

Blueridge Traveler adds blinkers for trainer Kenny McPeek.

The post ‘Weird Draw’ Shouldn’t Hurt Accelerate In Oaklawn Handicap appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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