We are off and running on Thursday in Florida and Arkansas. Gulfstream Park and Oaklawn Park are both covered at TheSportsGeek on Thursday. These are two of the biggest tracks with a card today. Fair Grounds Race Course might be the other track to round out the most lucrative racing this afternoon. If you’re looking for the biggest race of the weekend, you can find that at Fair Grounds with the running of the $1,000,000 Louisiana Derby (Gr. 1). That’s a prep race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, with a 100 points going to the winning team. TheSportsGeek will have a Kentucky Derby preview on Monday or Tuesday up on the blog.
If these three picks at Oaklawn Park isn’t enough, then you can head over to our Gulfstream Park page for more selections on the ponies. Oaklawn has nine races on the card with a total of $516,000 in prize money available. I believe that’s the most money being awarded in the US on Thursday. Head below for our free Oaklawn Park picks for March 18, 2021.
Post Time: 1:00 p.m. CST
Distance:1 1/16 Miles
The first race at Oaklawn Park is our first stop in Arkansas. Race 1 covers 1 1/16 miles on the dirt for a $28,000 purse. Eight horses are expected to compete, with Midnight Karma and Henny Fly my two favorites in Race 1. Midnight Karma is a two-time winner through 17 races, with her most recent win a while ago on June 23, 2019.
She has gone winless in ten straight races since then. In her latest outings, Midnight Karma finished 2nd, 8th, 6th from November 2 to March 4. In the race she placed 2nd, she finished 4 ¼ lengths behind Such Great Heights for a $13,000 purse. Decent run, but Midnight Karma moved up in class and has gone for 8th and 6th following placing.
In her most recent showing, Midnight Karma was 6th in a $24,000 event on March 4. There are plenty of other runners in this race that should finish behind Midnight Karma, though. Henny Fly likely isn’t one of them, though. Henny Fly is 2 for 12 in her career and should like these terms on Thursday.
She has finished 1st, 2nd, 5th in her previous three entries. In the win, Henny Fly defeated Ebony Bay by 3 ¾ lengths in a $8,800 event, and then 2nd in a $12,800 race, and lastly 5th for a $28,500 prize. That trajectory doesn’t look great, but she’s looked good in the morning, and this event looks fairly straightforward. The competition in this one is low, giving Henny Fly a great chance to win at this level.
Post Time: 1:31 p.m. CST
Right after Race 1, we’ll gear up for the next race, a 6-furlong event on the dirt for a $27,000 purse. Nine horses are expected to compete in this one. Gainer and Rock Ridge are likely the horses to pay attention here. Gainer has gone 7th, 6th, 4th in his career and might be able to make a bigger jump forward today.
The colt had his best run yet on March 5, finishing 4th in a $23,000 event. He’s steadily improved from 7th to 6th to 4th. If Gainer continues heading in the right direction, then you have to appreciate his chances of winning soon. Look for Gainer to run close on Thursday afternoon at Oaklawn.
Rock Ridge should provide Gainer with a big challenge. He’s gone 7th, 7th, 2nd, 2nd, DNF in his career. Rock Ridge placed 2nd in back-to-back races on November 27 and January 7. In the first of those two outings, Rock Ridge placed behind Dreamonmebaby by 3 ¼ lengths in a $30,000 event.
Then followed up in his first race in 2021 to place behind Crimson Zip by ¾ lengths for $30,000. He bowed out after getting clipped and falling just after the ¾ pole in another $30,000 race. Note that Rock Ridge was fine and no injuries were reported. Rock Ridge has been working out in good form since that mishap. Down a bit in class, expect Rock Ridge to edge this field out.
Post Time: 4:09 p.m. CST
Distance:5 ½ Furlongs
This isn’t a stakes race, but it’s a big allowance event for more than $100,000. This $105,000 race will cover 5 ½ furlongs on the dirt. Race 7 has seven runners participating going in this event. Crown Jewel and Cynical Girl should be noted in this race. Cynical Girl will need a bold bid from the outside, but has been in nice form and could do it.
Cynical Girl has gone 3rd, 2nd, 2nd, 1st in her previous four entries. She’s been top-2 in three straight and is looking to make it back-to-back wins on Thursday. Cynical Girl beat Blue Lizzy by 3 ¼ lengths in a $24,000 purse. She is going to see a big jump in class, but could land a blow in the stretch. It’s going to be tough to overcome Crown Jewel for Cynical and the rest in this field, though.
Crown Jewel has one win in five attempts in her career. That win happened on April 26 in a $60,000 race. She cleared Tipsy Gal by 6 ¾ lengths for an easy win at Oaklawn that afternoon. She ran at Churchill Downs, placing 2nd on June 19 in her next outing.
It was a solid run, but edged out by 2 ¼ lengths against Club Car for a $80,000 purse. In her most recent showing, Crown Jewel placed 2nd behind Ocean Breeze by a half length in a $84,000 event. This race might be worth more, but I don’t see it being any more difficult. In fact, it could be slightly easier. I’m going to put my support behind Crown Jewel for the win.