Oaklawn Barn Notes April 3

April 5, 2013

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Texas Bling Works toward Arkansas Derby; Picks up Borel

Hall’s Family Trust’s Texas Bling, most recently fourth in the Rebel Stakes (G2), continued down the path toward his ultimate goal of the Arkansas Derby (G1) April 13 with a five furlong workout in 1:01 3/5 Wednesday over a fast track. Three-time Kentucky Derby winning jockey Calvin Borel, aboard for the work, will replace jockey Cliff Berry in the Arkansas Derby.

“It went incredible,” said trainer Danele Durham. “His stride is improving by the day. He’s extending farther and reaching out for fun. Calvin really fits this horse. He keeps him really collected and gets his hind end into action. The two of them look like the real deal. I’ll give him a blowout three-eighths on Tuesday. This was the second work with Calvin on him. I wanted to be sure before we made a change. I really like the way he relaxes for Calvin and I really think they’re the perfect match. The connection between the horse and rider is so important, and the horse picks up on Calvin’s confidence.”

In other Arkansas Derby developments, Michael Langford’s Carve, sixth in the Rebel, has thrown his name into the hat for the Arkansas Derby. The First Samurai colt continued his preparations for the 1 1/8-mile race with a bullet five-furlong move of 1:00 2/5 March 30. Leading rider Ricardo Santana Jr. will have the mount.

“We nominated Carve to keep open some options,” said Darren Fleming, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen. “I don’t think a final decision has been made, but that’s something Steve would handle anyway. He worked really good last week in just about a minute. He closed a lot of ground in [the Rebel] and it wasn’t that bad a race when I went back and looked at it a second time. I think the extra ground of the Arkansas Derby will help. There’s also the Northern Spur as the other main option.”

Alternation Works; Part of Strong Racing Festival Contingent for Von Hemel

Pin Oak Stable’s Alternation, winner of three stakes last year at Oaklawn, including the Oaklawn Handicap (G2), tuned up for defense of his title with a five furlong workout Tuesday in 1:01 3/5 over a fast track. The 5-year-old Distorted Humor horse most recently finished fifth in the Razorback Handicap (G3) March 9, his first race since last October.

“I was really pleased,” said trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel, via phone from South Carolina where he was looking at 2-year-olds. “We worked him by himself and I actually sent him three-quarters and I got the last quarter in 23 and 4. I was real happy with it. We’ve seen him more on the bit and up in the bridle since the race. He breaks off a little snappier. I’m sure we will see a better horse, but it also looks like Fort Larned will be plenty tough to beat.”

Also working Tuesday for Von Hemel was She’s All In, who covered five furlongs in 1:02. The multiple stakes winner, who most recently finished fourth in the Azeri Stakes March 16, is being considered for the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 12 or the Sixty Sails Handicap (G3) at Hawthorne later in the month.

“We will see who is coming and the weights before making a decision,” said Von Hemel. The other idea is to head to Chicago and go back for the Sixty Sails.”

Von Hemel will kick off the Racing Festival of the South with Pin Oak’s Hung the Moon in the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 10. The Malibu Moon filly, a two time winner this meet, joined her stablemates for a five furlong work in 1:02.

“Hung the Moon worked a solid five-eighths by herself,” said Von Hemel. “She seemed happy and she was coming off a pretty serious workout last week, so this would be classified as more of a maintenance work. She’s been running from off the pace, so we are hoping someone could hook the filly (Rose to Gold) who got away in the Honeybee to help us out.”

Rose to Gold Prime for Fantasy

Honeybee Stakes (G3) winner Rose to Gold completed her major preparations for the Fantasy with a half mile breeze in 49 4/5 Tuesday under regular rider Calvin Borel.

The Friends Lake filly moved her base of operation from South Florida to Hot Springs this winter with the goal of using Oaklawn’s prep races as a springboard to the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) May 3. So far that plan has worked perfectly. She started her journey with a second in the Martha Washington before her 2 ¾ length victory in the Honeybee and currently ranks fifth with 64 points based on Churchill Downs’ new criteria for making the Oaks.

“The work was great,” said trainer Sal Santoro. “It was exactly what I wanted – 49 and a tick. She came out of it fine and I’m happy with it. Now, we’ll just bide our time up until the race. Calvin was pleased with it. I was pleased with it, and I actually think the horse was pleased with it. She needed it to wake her up a little bit. She was fit going into it. She’s not the type that you need to be hammering on her. This was exactly what she needed and I was really pleased with it. She’s coming up to it exactly the way I want.”