Grade 1 Winner Moonshine Mullin Back In Training; Eyes Razorback Handicap

Trainer Randy Morse said Grade I winner Moonshine Mullin has been galloping for approximately two months in early preparation for a 2015 campaign that is scheduled to begin in the $250,000 Grade III Razorback Handi-cap for older horses March 14 at Oaklawn Park.

The Razorback is the final major local prep for the $600,000 Grade II Oaklawn Handicap on April 11.

Moonshine Mullin hasn’t started since becoming a millionaire, and providing Morse with his biggest career victory, in the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) on June 14 at Churchill Downs. Moonshine Mullin was scheduled to run in the $200,000 West Virginia Governor’s Stakes on Aug. 2 at Mountaineer, but was scratched after Morse said a “tiny” ligament tear was discovered in an ankle on the eve of the race.

“It was bittersweet,” Morse said. “It was a great ride, but, gosh, when he got hurt, it was like, ‘Wow.’ Who knows what could have happened.”

Moonshine Mullin had emerged as one of the country’s top older male handicap horses on the strength of five consecutive victories.

The 6-year-old son of Albert the Great beat champion Will Take Charge in the Stephen Foster and in the $300,000 Alysheba Stakes (G2) on May 2 at Churchill Downs.

Moonshine Mullin was a three-time winner at the 2014 Oaklawn meeting, highlighted by an eye-catching 5 3/4-length allowance/optional claiming victory April 11. Moonshine Mullin covered 1 1/16 miles in a meet-best 1:42.03, earning a gaudy 108 Beyer Speed Figure.

Will Take Charge won the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) the following day.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt, the race he ran, I think he would have won the Oaklawn Handicap,” Morse said, referring to Moonshine Mullin. “He’s just one of those horses, he got good. Believe me, he was really getting good before this happened.”

Morse said Moonshine Mullin’s tear was “fresh” when it was discovered, which limited scar tissue forming and benefited the recovery process.

The trainer said stem cell and ultrasound therapy was used to treat the injury.

“You never know, even at this point,” Morse said. “But, I feel very good about the way he’s coming back.”

On behalf of owner Randy Patterson, Morse claimed Moonshine Mullin for $40,000 on Nov. 30, 2013, at Re-mington Park. The horse won 5 of 6 starts this year and earned $641,627. The Stephen Foster increased Moon-shine Mullin’s career earnings to $1,014,361.
 
Making the Grade

Oaklawn’s graded stakes races for the 2015 season:

GRADE I (2) $1 million Arkansas Derby, $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap

GRADE II (3) $750,000 Rebel Stakes, $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap, $300,000 Azeri Stakes

GRADE III (6) $400,000 Fantasy Stakes, $300,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap, $300,000 Southwest Stakes, $250,000 Razorback Handicap, $150,000 Honeybee Stakes, $100,000 Bayakoa Stakes
 
Grades Are In

The American Graded Stakes Committee has assigned a Grade III rating to the $100,000 Bayakoa Stakes for older fillies and mares Feb. 15.

It’s the first time the Bayakoa, initially run in 1992, has been graded and increases Oaklawn’s graded races from 10 to 11 for the 2015 live meeting that begins Jan. 9.

Oaklawn’s 10 other graded races retained the same grade as 2014, including the committee’s highest ranking – Grade 1 – for the $1 million Arkansas Derby and $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap.

The committee annually assigns grades based on several factors, including purse size and achievement in graded and unrestricted black-type stakes races in the two years before and after the race.

The Bayakoa, the second of three major local preps for the Apple Blossom, received a major boost in recent years by the presence of future Grade I winners Don’t Tell Sophia and Tiz Miz Sue in its fields. Don’t Tell Sophia is the two-time defending Bayakoa champion and has returned to Hot Springs to start her 2015 campaign.
 
Finish Lines

There were 1,060 horses on the grounds Thursday morning. … Shaun Bridgmohan and Joe Rocco Jr., both top 50 nationally in purse earnings this year, are scheduled to ride regularly at the 2015 meeting. … Workouts Thursday morning by Paganol and Guns Loaded were the first recorded at Oaklawn since prominent Texas owners James and Ywachetta Driver moved horses from trainer Cody Autrey to trainer Chris Hartman. … Mufajaah, a two-time winner at the 2014 Oaklawn meeting, is scheduled to make her 4-year-old debut in the $100,000 Pippin Stakes for older fillies and mares Jan. 17, trainer Dan Peitz said.


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