04/06/2011 4:41PM

Oaklawn: Outside post gives Fudgesicle's rider some options

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – The post Fudgesicle drew for the eighth race Friday at Oaklawn Park might put him in a position to roll out some new pace tactics. After racing on the lead from inside posts, he gets a gate that could give his rider options. Fudgesicle drew post 8 for the entry-level allowance sprint for 3- and 4-year-olds. Among his rivals in the nine-horse field is the Triple Crown nominee Skylord.

The race, which will be run over six furlongs, shares a program with an entry-level allowance route for 3- and 4-year-olds. Among its starters are Triple Crown nominees Awesome Bet and Quiet Assault.

Fudgesicle will be making his third career start, after winning his debut March 3, then finishing second by a neck to the stakes-bound Derivative in a first-level allowance sprint March 25.

“He’d been breaking sharp and had the [inside] both times,” trainer Mac Robertson said of the dynamics behind the front-running efforts. “We hope to rate him this time.”

Oaklawn leading rider Cliff Berry will be aboard Fudgesicle for the first time Friday.

“Cliff actually did all the work on him,” Robertson said of breezes leading up to the horse’s debut. “He had rated him a couple of times in the morning, behind horses out of the gate, before he’d ever run, so he’ll be comfortable with him.”

Will’s Afleet, who earned a field-high Beyer Figure of 96 when he won his maiden at Monmouth Park last May, encountered trouble when sixth in a quick optional claiming race in his Oaklawn debut March 19.

“He ran a really good race at Monmouth Park and beat some very good horses,” his trainer, Tim Ritchey, said. “When he ran here, he stumbled leaving the gate and was running up the rail and a horse ducked right over in front of him and [jockey] Joe [Rocco] had to really grab him and his head’s up in the air. He had to check him, and he was basically out of the race.”

Will’s Afleet, who has an age edge on Fudgesicle as a 4-year-old, will break from post 2 under Rocco.

Skylord owns the field’s best last-race Beyer Figure, a 91, for his five-length debut win at Saratoga on Aug. 5. The horse was later sold at auction at Keeneland in November, and will be making his first start for Windridge Farm and trainer Jinks Fires. Skylord, who shows a strong series of local works, will be ridden by Jon Court.