Oaklawn Barn Notes March 2

March 2, 2013

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Saturday, March 02, 2013

Always in a Tiz Recovering; Eyeing Rebel

Although his connections are from New York and currently based in South Florida, Always in Tiz will continue down the path toward the April 13 Arkansas Derby with a start in the $600,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 16. The colt will be making his third start in Hot Springs after finishing a troubled third in the Smarty Jones Jan. 21 and fifth in the sloppy Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 18.

The Tiznow colt returned to Florida after the Smarty Jones, but has remained at Oaklawn since the Southwest and had been treated for a lung infection discovered after that race. Now healthy, Always in a Tiz began his serious preparations for the Rebel by working five furlongs in 1:02 Friday with jockey Robby Albarado on board.

“I spoke to (assistant) Carl (Alsop) and to Robby (Albarado) and they both say everything went very well,” said trainer Dominick Schettino. “He scoped clean and the lung infection appears to be completely cleared up. I worked him in blinkers and I’m hoping to send him one more time – a half-mile – in blinkers next week to get him ready. We are also hoping it doesn’t rain again, but what can you do?”

Always in a Tiz was accompanied on his second trip to Arkansas by the 3-year-old filly Flash Forward, who will start in the $150,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 9. The impressive winner of an optional allowance race at Gulfstream Park Jan. 3 posted her third work at Oaklawn Feb. 28, breezing five furlongs in 1:02 3/5 over a fast track.

“The filly is training very well,” said Schettino. “Robby was happy with her. The time before last I worked her in company and yesterday she went by herself. The Honeybee is the target.”

Texas Bling Remains on Target for Rebel

Texas Bling, the upset winner of the Springboard Mile at Remington Park last December and second in the Smarty Jones, continues to show that his ninth-place finish in the Southwest Stakes was mostly due to the very sloppy racetrack that day. Saturday he posted his second work since that race, a five-furlong breeze in 1:01.

“It was another excellent work,” said trainer Danele Durham. “It was just a maintenance work. I wanted him to do a little more last week because he got nothing out of the (Southwest). We’ll probably come back next Saturday for another work before the Rebel.”

“He went fast,” added jockey Cliff Berry. “A horse broke off in front of him and he took off after him, so it was probably faster than Danele wanted, but he’s good.”

American Sugar Prepares to Try Again in Honeybee

Dixie Belle Stakes winner American Sugar, most recently fourth in the Martha Washington Feb.9, will continue to seek a stakes victory in a race at a mile or over in the $150,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 9. The Harlan’s Holiday filly, who breezed five furlongs 1:02 3/5 Saturday, has won three stakes at six furlongs or less, but has been no better than fourth in her three attempts at a mile. The Honeybee, which offers a total of 85 points toward eligibility into the May 3 Kentucky Oaks field, is 1 1/16 miles. 

“She did really well today,” said trainer Lynn Chleborad, who conditions the filly for Poindexter Thoroughbreds. “It was five-eighths and she finished strong. She did exactly what we wanted to see and she’s on schedule for the Honeybee. In the last race, we probably should have let Alex [Birzer] let her go instead of fighting her on the first turn. It took her out of her best game. She didn’t run a bad race, though obviously we were disappointed. It was one of those times where we felt like if things had gone just a little bit differently, she would have done a little better. And, when you consider she was getting seven pounds from the first two finishers and three pounds from the third-place horse, at this point when they’re just 3-year-olds who are really still 2, a lot of weight at that age makes a difference, I think. She came back fine from it. We are still experimenting in the process to see if she can compete going a route of ground with this kind of competition.

“Alex was aboard this morning. He said he was really happy with it. She scoped clean. We’re ready to go.”

Also working Saturday toward a start in the Honeybee was Martha Washington runner-up Rose to Gold, who breezed a half mile in 50 flat.

Don’t Tell Sophia Puts in Nice Maintenance Work

Don’t Tell Sophia has already won the Pippin and Bayakoa Stakes this meet and has now set her sights on the $150,000 Azeri Stakes (G3) March 16. If her work Saturday is any indication, she’s more than ready to take the next step up into graded stakes competition. The 5-year-old Congaree mare breezed a half mile in 48 4/5 with jockey Robby Albarado on board.

“It was just a little maintenance work,” said trainer Phil Sims, who co-owns the mare with Jerry Namy. “The track was pretty dry because of the cold, so I didn’t really ask for a lot of speed like that, but that’s okay. She’s fit. (Is she Royal Delta-level?) That might be a pretty far reach, but I had a pretty good horse in the Breeders’ Cup a couple years ago [Hot Cha Cha] and this filly was 2 at the time, and even then, I was already thinking she was just as good. I’ve thought a lot of her for a long time. I don’t know if she can keep doing it or not, but she has always acted like something special.”

“She feels good,” added Albarado. “She’s got to prove it eventually, but if she stays healthy, she possibly could be one of the top fillies, top mares this year. It was just a little maintenance half-a-mile. Phil just wanted to get a little air in her. She’s been doing things pretty easy lately. It’s kind of scary how good she’s getting.”

Two of Don’t Tell Sophia’s main competitors for the Azeri also worked Saturday. She’s All In, second in the Bayakoa, went five furlongs in 1:03 3/3 and defending Azeri champ Tiz Miz Sue, third in the Bayakoa, breezed five furlongs in 1:02 3/5.


It was also a busy morning for older horses as defending Razorback Handicap (G3) winner Alternation and Atigun both got tuned up for the 1 1/16-mile race next Saturday. Alternation covered five furlongs in 1:01 3/5, while Atigun, a top 3-year-old last year, went the same distance in 1:02 3/5.

The 4-year-old Gentlemen’s Bet, one of the most impressive winners this meet when he won his seasonal debut after a long layoff by 2 ½ lengths Feb. 8, worked five furlongs in 1:00 4/5, the second fastest of 56 at the distance. While the undefeated colt, owned by Harry Rosenblum of Hot Springs, might be talented enough for races like the Razorback, his connections are taking their time with him.

“Gentlemen’s Bet was perfect,” said trainer Ron Moquett. “We got the good track we wanted and everything went good in the ‘hood. I’d love to try him in an allowance – a two-other-than race – and go from there. We are itching to try him long. He’s ready to try it first. Fortunately, I have a great owner who has said he wants to take the time to figure him out and get him in the perfect spot.”