The 2020 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap for 3-year-olds and older is one of the premier sprint races of the spring and regularly draws a deep, talented cast of runners to Oaklawn Park.
Dirt sprint races are the bread and butter of U.S. racing and the Grade 3 Count Fleet typically draws sprinters from both coasts as well as the Midwest. With the number of racetracks currently running extremely limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s Count Fleet came up especially salty.
Read on to learn more about the race for a closer look at this year’s field.
1. Lexitonian (30-1): He comes into the Count Fleet on six-month layoff following a career-best effort when third in a Grade 2 at Keeneland. He’s been training well, but I’m worried he might be a cut below these and vying with several others for position just off the pace.
JOCKEY: Adam Beschizza; TRAINER: Jack Sisterson
2. Flagstaff (7-2): He’s been very fast, very good, and very consistent in seven starts since May 2019. This Speightstown gelding ships in from Southern California off a dominant win in the Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes and looks like a formidable presence who should vie for favoritism.
JOCKEY: Joel Rosario; TRAINER: John Sadler
3. Hog Creek Hustle (15-1): This deep-closing Grade 1 winner should get a solid pace to set up his late bid, but he’s been well-beaten in his last three. He has a chance to improve in his third start of the year, but filling out the trifecta might be his ceiling.
JOCKEY: Drayden Van Dyke; TRAINER: Greg Foley
4. Bobby's Wicked One (3-1): The probable pacesetter enters off two dominant front-running wins at this distance in stakes races at Fair Grounds. He’s a need-the-lead type, and if he’s alone in front this 5-year-old by Speightstown will be very hard to catch. My hunch is he will be challenged early.
JOCKEY: Miguel Mena; TRAINER: Al Stall Jr.
5. Wendell Fong (30-1): This lightly raced 4-year-old would need to improve to factor here as he’s unplaced in two starts in graded stakes. The price should be right and he’d most likely benefit from an “off” track as his lone stakes win came in the slop.
JOCKEY: David Cohen; TRAINER: Jeremiah Englehart
6. Mr. Jagermeister (15-1): This will be a class test for a consistent sprinter who loves this distance and has been very good on this racetrack. He ran second to Whitmore in Hot Springs Stakes in his most recent start and could challenge Bobby’s Wicked One early. Rain also would probably aid his chances.
JOCKEY: Terry Thompson; TRAINER: Valorie Lund
7. Hidden Scroll (4-1): The wild card in the field has run two electric races, both front-running wins, in five career starts. He won his career debut by 14 lengths and dominated by 12 ½ lengths March 1 at Gulfstream Park in his 4-year-old bow. In between, the Juddmonte Farms homebred disappointed three times as the heavy favorite. If he makes the lead, he will have earned it in this field.
JOCKEY: Martin Garcia; TRAINER: Bill Mott
8. Manny Wah (30-1): He finished third in a Grade 1 in December 2019, but came up just short in a February allowance race before he was beaten by 26 ½ lengths as the 3-2 favorite in a March 29 allowance, both at this track and distance. He’s a threat at his best and enters the Count Fleet off bullet workout. Price should be right.
JOCKEY: Channing Hill; TRAINER: Wayne Catalano
9. Whitmore (5-2): He’s won this race in two of last three years, with his loss a second to eventual champion sprinter Mitole last April. He’s got eight wins and never has been out of top three in 13 starts at Oaklawn with 11 wins in 20 races at this distance. He’ll be the first or second betting choice for good reason.
JOCKEY: Joe Talamo; TRAINER: Ron Moquett
10. Share the Upside (10-1): He beat Whitmore by 1 ½ lengths coming back from a long layoff in his 2020 debut, but was well-beaten fifth behind that familiar foe most recently in the Hot Springs Stakes March 7. I think he’s better than he showed in his last and he’s 4-for-6 on this main track.
JOCKEY: Florent Geroux; TRAINER: Steve Asmussen
11. Nitrous (20-1): It’s interesting that Ricardo Santana Jr. stayed on this 4-year-old Tapit colt coming off a seven-month layoff rather than riding Share the Upside just to his inside. He’s Grade 1 placed and a deep closer who should get an ideal pace setup. He should be flying late with a chance to hit the board at a big price.
JOCKEY: Ricardo Santana Jr.; TRAINER: Steve Asmussen
THE PICK: Whitmore
LIVE LONGSHOT: Nitrous
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