Oaklawn Handicap Announces Contenders and Odds for 4/23/22

Idol headlines the field for the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap. (Benoit Photo)
Post PositionHorse and Morning Line Odds
1Beau Luminarie (12-1)
2Thomas Shelby (8-1)
3Last Samurai (8-1)
4Idol (6-1)
5Rated R Superstar (5-1)
6Plainsman (5-2)
7Super Stock (10-1)
8 Fearless (9-5)

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Grade 1 Winner Idol Set for Oaklawn Handicap

Southern California-based Idol has been idle for most of the last year, but the Grade 1 winner is scheduled to launch another comeback in the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) going 1 1/8-miles at Oaklawn Park on April 23.

Trained by Richard Baltas, Idol was a candidate for last year’s Oaklawn Handicap after winning the $400,000 Santa Anita Handicap (G1) in March 2021 at Santa Anita. But Idol has run just once since the Santa Anita Handicap, finishing a well-beaten sixth in the $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes (G1) at 1 1/8 miles Oct. 2 at Santa Anita.

“If you look at the horse, he’s a big horse, a tall horse,” Baltas said. “Covers a lot of ground. On those deeper tracks like Santa Anita, he just kind of struggled getting through them and he had some hind-end stuff going on, like muscle.”

Baltas said Idol appears to have shaken his physical issues and has trained forwardly this year at San Luis Rey Downs in Southern California for his 2022 debut. Idol was based at Santa Anita in the winter and spring of 2021.

“He’s been doing good lately, though,” Baltas said.

Baltas has a small string at Oaklawn and said he considered several other races for Idol’s comeback, including the $300,000 Ben Ali Stakes (G3) at 1 1/8 miles Saturday at Keeneland, $200,000 Californian Stakes (G2) at 1 1/8 miles April 30 at Santa Anita and the $500,000 Alysheba Stakes (G2) at 1 1/16 miles May 6 at Churchill Downs.

“He’s a funny horse,” Baltas said. “He seems to run better on tighter tracks, like Churchill. Even though he won the Santa Anita Handicap, I’m not so sure he likes Santa Anita because he doesn’t train well over it and that’s one of the main reasons why I sent him to San Luis Rey Downs. He hasn’t missed a beat for a while. Look, it’s a lot to chew off – off a layoff – but I don’t think this race is like extremely tough, not for a million bucks.”

Idol, who is owned by Calvin Nguyen, Baltas’ longtime client, has a 3-2-1 record from seven lifetime starts and earnings of $416,964. Idol made his first three career starts in 2020 at Churchill Downs and set a 1 3/16th miles track record (1:55.97) in an allowance race at its fall meet before moving to Southern California.

A 5-year-old son of Curlin, Idol is a full brother to Nest, a leading candidate for the $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) for 3-year-old fillies May 6 at Churchill Downs.

Millionaire multiple Grade 3 winner Rated R Superstar completed major preparations for the Oaklawn Handicap by working five furlongs in 1:01.20 last Friday morning under eight-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr.

David Cabrera, Oaklawn’s leading rider this season, guided Rated R Superstar to victories in the $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes Jan. 15 and $500,000 Essex Handicap (G3) March 19, but the jockey is out indefinitely after sustaining head, neck and upper back injuries in an April 8 spill. Santana will ride Rated R Superstar in the Oaklawn Handicap, the 9-year-old gelding’s owner, Danny Caldwell, said.

“That is the plan once David went down,” Caldwell said. “Would love to have David and wish him a speedy recovery. Ricardo has won on Rated R and is a very competent rider, plus he should fit Rated R’s running style perfect.”