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Saturday Stakes: Boom or bust for EIGHT RINGS in Oaklawn Park's Bachelor Stakes?
SATURDAY, APRIL 25, 2020
by: Rich Bieglmeier
EIGHT RINGS (PP: 7) is the 5/2 morning line favorite to win the $100,000 Bachelor Stakes to kick off his three-year-old campaign. It follows his Charles Dickens-esque, Tale of Two Horses 2019 record.
EIGHT RINGS' two-year-old season was either the best of times or the worst of times for the half-million-dollar horse. Bob Baffert's trainee debuted with a win that generated he's got the stuff to be a Kentucky Derby winner hype. The two-year-old son of EMPIRE MAKER blasted a field of six by 6 3/4 lengths to start his career, hitting triple-digits on the speed figure gun.
In round two, EIGHT RINGS was the 1/2 post-time favorite to win the $300,000, Grade I, Runhappy Del Mar Futurity. He ducked in after the start and bumped with STORM THE COURT with both horses tossing their jockeys.
DNF (did not finish) in his second line and a lot of trashed tickets.
Ahh, but horseplayers did not lose faith. Baffert switched jocks to John Velazquez from Drayden Van Dyke in race number three, the Grade I, American Pharoah Stakes at Del Mar. Once again, the betting public made EIGHT RINGS their top choice at 6/5 odds.
He did not disappoint, crushing a field of nine by 6 lengths. It was a laugher as he took the lead out of the gate, held the lead by a head after the quarter pole, extended his lead to 2 lengths after three-quarters of a mile, and then turned on the jets in the stretch.
From the American Pharoah Stakes winners' circle to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile for the can't miss matchup versus DENNIS' MOMENT. A race to crown the best two-year-old in the land and early favorite to wear the roses.
Bang, the starter's gun sound and the horses burst through the Breeders' Cup gates at Santa Anita park and then… the highly anticipated duel is brought to its knees. DENNIS' MOMENT nearly somersaulted at the break and never recovered.
There was no doubt which two-year-old would stand tallest now. EIGHT RINGS rode shotgun behind the early leader STORM THE COURT, putting in reasonable fractions through the first 6 furlongs. Heading into the stretch, jockey John Velazquez cracked the whip and said let's go. But EIGHT RINGS didn't go, falling back to sixth with no excuses. STORM THE COURT was king that day.
EIGHT RINGS has no excuses not to regain his throne today. He is the class of the field by far. He's run in three Grade I stakes races out of four career starts; whereas, the rest of the field has three combined. Additionally, his upfront running style fits the bias of 6 furlongs on Oaklawn's main track.
The distance and surface combo heavily favor early speed with 176 of 271 winners, including 81 going wire-to-wire. EIGHT RINGS appears ready to get back to work in a hurry with four bullet workouts in his last six, including the fastest 5 furlong time of 29 horses in his lone Oaklawn prep.
If he should stumble, our handicapper sees either ECHO TOWN (PP: 3 ML 7/2) or LONG WEEKEND (PP: 9 ML 3-1) as the most likely to hoist the Bachelor Stakes trophy.
ECHO TOWN is coming off his best performance, winning at 6 furlongs on Oaklawn slop while tying for the highest, last speed figure. Overall, he has two wins and a third in three starts, all 6 furlongs on dirt. The Steve Asmussen trainee tends to start mid-pack and come on like a truck with no brakes running downhill, gaining ground late in each of his outings. Pace will be everything.
ECHO TOWN will likely be chasing three to four front runners, including LONG WEEKEND, who has won three of his four efforts going wire-to-wire. He is on a two-race win streak, both in his only tries at 6 furlongs, and neither has been close. He won his first start off the bench by 6 3/4 lengths and his last by 4 3/4 lengths, tying ECHO TOWN for the top speed number. LONG WEEKEND should be at/near peak form as Trainer Thomas Amoss wins third starts at a strong 27%. He will need to be because if EIGHT RINGS is at his best, the Bachelor Stakes should be a tale of one horse.
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Good luck at the races!
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