There will be stakes action on the agenda at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, as the Tinsel Stakes is due off at 5:14 p.m ET. This race will be run over a distance of 1 1/8 miles on the dirt, and horses aged three and over will be involved.
There are a number of runners involved this weekend that has shown glimpses of excellent form, but all are effectively unproven in graded company.
Four-year-old Hozier is one of the few runners that comes into the race after winning on their previous start. The gelding is trained by Rodolphe Brisset, and was last seen winning over this distance at Churchill Downs to land the River City. He will be looking for a third straight win this weekend after landing an allowance success on the turf back in October.
His runs on the turf were decent efforts, but his success in the River City was a step back in the right direction on the dirt. His previous effort at Oaklawn Park came back in April, as he finished fourth over a mile in allowance company. On the basis of his previous effort, he is hard to ignore.
Last Samurai is back down in grade for the Tinsel Stakes this weekend. We last saw the four-year-old finishing fourth in the G1 Clark Stakes, which saw a decent enough effort. He was also third in the G2 Fayette Stakes back in October. This is certainly his preferred distance, and he was last seen at Oaklawn when winning the G2 Oaklawn Handicap over this distance back in April.
He finished extremely well on that occasion, recording a speed figure of 103. He was also second over slightly further in the Temperance Hill Stakes behind Lone Rock. It’s hard to ignore that he likely has the best form in the book, but he has been slightly inconsistent throughout his career.
Bal Harbour is undeniably the most experienced runner in this race, and the seven-year-old comes into this race after a very strong effort in the G2 Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance at Keeneland. That run came over slightly further, which looked to favor both Next and Heywoods Beach, who finished ahead of him.
Bal Harbour’s last win came over this distance, as she landed a claiming success at Saratoga in September. The seven-year-old is a very competitive sort, and I would suggest that he won’t be too far away. But, others are slightly more progressive, and that makes him vulnerable this weekend.
Tinsel Stakes Free Pick: King Fury
King Fury has some form to find on Last Samurai after finishing a place behind his reappearing rival in the G2 Fayette Stakes in October. However, I think this race could be perfect for him this weekend. This is a distance that plays to his strengths, which was evident as he finished a very strong third in the G2 Lukas Classic behind Breeders’ Cup Classic performers Hot Rod Charlie and Rich Strike.
I still think King Fury is a very talented runner, and the previous Grade 3 winner could be perfectly set up for a strong effort this weekend. He holds a prominent position at the gate, and hasn’t been a million miles away in far tougher contests on the dirt throughout this season.