The steadily improving Combatant (Scat Daddy), winner of the GI Santa Anita H. last out, headlines an intriguing field in Saturday’s GII Oaklawn H. Closing out his 2019 campaign with a Churchill optional claiming victory Nov. 8 for Winchell Thoroughbred, Willis Horton and trainer Steve Asmussen, he was sent through the ring at Keeneland November days later, where bloodstock agent David Ingordo purchased him for $220,000 for Hronis Racing. Transferred to John Sadler, the bay checked in third in the GII San Pasqual S. Feb. 1 and rebounded to win the Big ‘Cap next out Mar. 7.
“He put in a good third in the prep for the Big Cap and then ran really well in the Big Cap,” trainer John Sadler told the Oaklawn notes team. “He’s a horse that is doing really well right now. He was a good horse when we got him. He was coming off a win at Churchill Downs. We got him out here [to California]. My thought is there’s always room in the handicap division. He’s not disappointed us. He’s training great.”
Last year’s GII Louisiana Derby hero By My Standards (Goldencents) has been a force to be reckoned with this term. A dominant six-length optional claimer winner at Fair Grounds Feb. 9, the bay scored a decisive victory in the GII New Orleans Classic S. Mar. 21.
Tacitus (Tapit) seeks his first win since last year’s GII Wood Memorial S., but he always shows up and should be considered a threat here. Runner-up in the GI Belmont S., GII Jim Dandy S. and GI Travers S. last summer, the gray was third in the GI Jockey Club Gold Cup S. Sept. 28 and was shelved for the season. The Juddmonte homebred’s first and only start this term was in the Saudi Cup Feb. 29, where he finished a respectable fifth.
Also worth a look in here are GIII Razorback H. victor Warrior’s Charge (Munnings), GII Gulfstream Park Mile S. winner Mr Freeze (To Honor and Serve) and Grade I winner Improbable (City Zip), who was a close second in the Oaklawn Mile S. last time Apr. 11.