One Southern California horse will take on a host of Northern California runners Saturday on the Oak Tree Sprint at the Alameda County Fair meet in Pleasanton.
The race is the 7th on the Pleasanton card and is set for a 4:45 p.m. post time.
Howbeit makes the trip north to face eight others in the 6-furlong sprint. Four of these horses met June 11 in the Albany at Golden Gate Fields.
Following here is a breakdown of the top runners in the field.
Howbeit (Mark Glatt trainer, Evin Roman jockey, 5/2): On paper, this one seems much better than everyone else except for one thing – he hasn’t run in almost a year. That race was the Grade II Pat O’Brien at Del Mar last August where he finished 6th, beaten 10 lengths. Before then he was coming off a 2-race win streak, both earning 99 Beyer marks. He’s been on a steady work tab for the return and looks ready to run. He looks more comfortable coming off the pace, which could be problematic coming off the rail. He is going to need to move towards the middle of the track and find his lane by the time they hit the turn.
Ultimate Bango (Samuel Calvario, Catalino Martinez, 7/2): is going off back-to-back stake’s races at Golden Gate Fields. Two starts back a closing kick brought home the win in the Lost in the Fog and that was followed June 11 with a fifth in the Albany over the turf. More of a turf runner in his career he has 22 starts on the grass, three on the synthetic, and three on the dirt. There was a bullet work over the Pleasanton track on June 24 and this one will come from off the pace as well.
War Games (Clifford DeLima, Francisco Monroy, 9/2): was sixth in the Albany and ninth in the All American before that. As opposed to the top two favorites here is a pace setter which hasn’t been as important thus far in Pleasanton.
Carolina Mia (Felix Rodan, Santos Rivera, 6/1): The lone mare in the field taking on the boys, is another speedster, with this one will be breaking from the No. 2 spot. The second-place runner in the Albany sat just off the pace throughout and pressed in the lane, just missing by a neck at 4/1 odds. Is coming off four straight runs on the turf at GGF and those type of runners have been fairing well in Pleasanton.
Psycho Dar (Samuel Calvario, William Antongeorgi III, 8/1): Is the other starter from Calvario’s barn. The horse was third in the Albany, coming from mid-pack to finish a length back of Carolina Mia. Another that will come from off the pace and does have three wins in eight starts on dirt.
Those are the single digit morning runners for the field. If Howbeit is ready, he seems much the best of this field but if he doesn’t it can be a wide open race. Here are some value plays to look at in this spot.
Darnquick (Efrain Miranda, Frank Alvarado, 10/1): Ran third in this race last year and was the favorite here on June 18, but he stumbled at the start and lost Alvarado. If you liked him then, you must give a good look this time as well. Has shown speed and the ability to come from off the pace.
Cool Mountain Lad (Victor Trujillo, Pedro Terrero, 10/1): Was second in the same race as Darnquick, losing to a very talented Clem Labine. Got out second and chased the winner throughout the race. More of a synthetic horse, he has been on the dirt twice – both times in Pleasanton and finished second both times. Another that prefers to come from off the pace.
How does the Oak Tree Sprint play out?
There is no dyed in the wool sprinter here with the only two looking to run early being the 10-1 Murphys Tiger and War Games. Chances of a speed duel developing are remote, so we need to look for those closer to the pace.
If he is ready, this is Howbeit’s race to lose. He has seen bigger races and run well in them. Without the speedster taking off, the horse should be able to dictate the pace.
What happens if Howbeit falters late?
Carolina Mia is one to watch and if she turns for home with the lead, the mare may be leaving the boys in her wake. I am also liking Ultimate Bango and will throw out that horrific effort on the turf in the Albany. He has shown the ability to be right there and with the aggressive Martinez in the saddle, this could be the winner.
Top three here are – Howbeit, Carolina Mia, Ultimate Bango.
Woodbine Stake Race
There is a local interest in the $150,000 Marine S. at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto on Saturday.
Unraptured, a horse owned by locals Paris Connors, Mike Connors, Angela Adams, and Richard Rasmussen, will be taking on seven rivals in the 1-1/16-mile race that is the 9th on the Woodbine card and is set for a 2:20 p.m. PDT post.