The Door Is Wide Open in The OP Handicap


2 OP    The OP Handicap (GII)

   $1,000.000     4yo&Up      1 1/8m Dirt       Handicap Weights

Oh do we have a humdinger here… The OP Handicap (GII) will be run Saturday evening and this looks like a tough one.  This is a race where I really can’t nail down a top choice as a bunch of these are class devils that seem to be in-and-out on their form.  Combat Wombat is a huge horse, but he hasn’t won since April, Champion In Action was closing well in the SA Hcp (GI) and Shanghai kicked off the year in a big way only to falter late in that SA Hcp (GI) race.

There are a bunch of horses stepping up as well, and as some look dangerous, I just don’t see any of them as over the top ready to take on a field like this.  I have a feeling the horse that wins this will be double-digit odds, but I’m just dazed and confused when it comes to nailing down a winner.  Let’s grab a hot dog and a cold snack and pull up a chair to watch this one.  It should be about as open a race as the come.

Here’s The Field –

 Phooeys Queen Blue  Aer Stables  Franco G 117 10/1

Hasn’t had his picture taken since the FLA Derby win last spring while on the TC Trail.  Changed hands before that last out race, where he was also on the rail, and again was not a factor in that race.  It just gets tougher here and I think it will be another long day at the office.

 Never Met Me  Mb Stables  Franco M 118 8/1

It has been a while since this one had seen the winner’s circle so they moved him down to the Alw ranks and he got back on-track last out when switched over to dirt.  That was a quick race, so maybe they found the magic.  Still this is a tough group to find out.

 Nav Man  Aml Racing  Hernandez B J Jr 119 6/1

Had back to back wins including the SSM Classic to kick the year off, then failed last out over this surface when eighth last out in the Razorback Hcp (GIII).  So who do we get today?  I think traffic hurt this one a LOT last out, so let’s hope he can avoid that here.

 Air Show  Mb Stables  Gaffalione T 118 7/1

Was backed off from graded foes and responded with back to back wins, so now it’s back to the deep end of the pool with the sharks.  He has tactical speed which could be an asset here, but he needs to show he can get it done vs. this type of competition.

 Dauzac  TwinTowersRacing  Centeno D E 119 5/1

Three wins from nine starts last season including a nice graded win at WO in the ONT Derby (GIII).  Started this year out on a sour note with a sixth and a fifth, both against graded horses, then ran a nice race last out when second beaten a half length in the Excels (GIII) at AQU.  He could certainly be a factor here.

 Combat Wombat  Maxmillion Farm  Bejarano R 119 6/1

Only a single win last season taking the CT Classic (GII) and I’m shocked they didn’t go to defend that title.  He’s been making late moves in hs recent races but just can’t get that little extra to push him over the top.  Still, with $2,775.000 in the bank, he is not to be

 Champion In Action  Night Rider Stables  Ortiz J L 120 8/1

Hasn’t won since that three-bagger that kicked off his ’19 season. Two of those were graded, but it’s been a long time since those races.  He has been close, showing a pair of runner-up runs and a pair of thirds in his last four starts.  Is he the one that can get the extra little bit and turn it around on a big stage?

 Shanghai  Nakamura Stables  Cedillo A 121 10/1

Changed hands two back and paid immediate dividends getting the win in the San Pascal (GII) but then took a turn for the worse when tiring badly to be last of twelve in the SA Hcp (GI) last out.  It’s just another matter of who we get today.

 Chrystal Believer  Maxmillion Farm  Beschizza A 119 12/1

Won the Longacre Mile (GIII) last summer and since then it’s been tough going.  He was last in the BC Dirt Mile (GI) to lose out the year and then last of eleven to kick-off this season.  He will just have to prove me wrong but this looks like a real tough spot to get back on the right side of things.

 So Profound  Asgar  Bridgmohan S X 118 8/1

Won the Toboggan (GIII) to get this year started then showed very little when ninth n the GP Mile (GII) last out.  This isn’t going to be any easier looking at the competition and the fact he’s in the ten hole.

 Dastardly Havoc  Maxmillion Farm  Baze T C 119 7/1

One win last season, but it was right here in this race, so can the home cooking find the way for him?  He did show some signs of life last out facing OptAlw horses, but even in that one, he tired a bit in the late going to be third, after having the lead.  Solid work getting ready for this.

 People Doubted  Aml Racing  Velazquez J R 119 7/1

Sixth in the SA Hcp (GI) where he just kind of went around at one speed on that afternoon.  He won the Smith Hcp (GIII) to close out ’19 which was one of his two seasonal wins.  He’s going to need his very best today, especially from way out here.


Categories: Grade II, STAKES ARTICLES

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