The Queen Has Returned
Don’t Tell Sophia, the most accomplished older female runner based at Oaklawn the last two years, arrived Saturday and is scheduled to work this weekend in preparation for her 2015 debut, possibly the $100,000 Pippin Stakes on Jan. 17, trainer Phil Sims said.
“She looks great right now,” said Sims, who also co-owns Don’t Tell Sophia. “She’s all dappled out.”
Don’t Tell Sophia is the two-time defending champion of the Pippin and Bayakoa Stakes – Oaklawn’s second major two-turn race for older fillies and mares – and also finished second in the 2013 Azeri Stakes (G3), third in the 2013 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) and third in the 2014 Azeri (G2).
“We’ll try the series of stakes here again and see how it goes,” Sims said.
A quarter-crack forced Don’t Tell Sophia to miss the 2014 Apple Blossom and sidelined her until the fall.
She resurfaced in Kentucky and made a late bid for divisional honors with a comeback victory in the $100,000 Locust Grove Stakes on Sept. 6 at Churchill Downs, then her most important career triumph to date, the $500,000 Spinster Stakes (G1) on Oct. 5 at Keeneland.
Don’t Tell Sophia closed 2014 with runner-up finishes in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) Oct. 31 at Santa Anita and the $200,000 Falls City Handicap (G2) Nov. 27 at Churchill Downs. She has earned $909,597 this year, pushing her career total to $1,382,479.
Sims purchased the 6-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Congaree for only $1,000 at the 2009 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
Sims said there was thought of retiring Don’t Tell Sophia at the end of 2014, but he decided against it because the mare continues to flourish physically. He said she was in light training in Kentucky before arriving in Hot Springs to prepare for what will be her final year of racing.
“We’ll take her through the series here, and if she does well, we’ll give her the summer off and then bring her back for a few races in the fall,” Sims said. “That will be it.”
Sims said Joe Rocco Jr., who is scheduled ride at the 2015 Oaklawn meeting, will continue as Don’t Tell Sophia’s regular pilot. Rocco was aboard Don’t Tell Sophia for her victories in the Locust Grove and Spinster.
Following the Pippin, Oaklawn’s series of two-turn stakes race for older fillies and mares continues with the $100,000 Bayakoa (G3), Feb. 15; the $300,000 Azeri (G2), March 14; and the $600,000 Apple Blossom (G1) April 10.
Kiss and Tell
Multiple stakes winner Kiss Moon could make her 2015 debut in the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) on April 10, trainer David Vance said.
Vance said Kiss Moon was turned out in early December to Hermitage Farm in Goshen, Ky., and will remain there until the 3-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon rejoins the trainer’s Oaklawn stable Feb. 1.
“That will give me seven, eight, nine weeks to get her ready,” Vance said.
Kiss Moon emerged as one of Oaklawn’s top 3-year-old fillies after winning an entry-level allowance race by 9 ½ lengths, running third (via disqualification) in the $150,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) and second in the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3). Following the Oaklawn meeting, Kiss Moon won the $75,000 Hatoof Stakes at Arlington Park in suburban Chicago and the $100,000 TaWee Stakes at Indiana Grand. Both races were on the turf.
Kiss Moon had a 3-1-3 record from 11 starts in 2014 and earned $275,716.
“She had a great year,” Vance said.
Kiss Moon finished third in her final 2014 start, beaten three lengths in the $200,000 Mrs. Revere Stakes (G2) on the turf Nov. 15 at Churchill Downs. Vance said he believes the Mrs. Revere winner, Sparkling Review, could be one of the nation’s top female grass runners in 2015.
“I think Kiss Moon is probably better on turf, but she had no problem on this surface,” Vance said.
Kiss Moon races for her breeder, Carl Pollard, the former owner of Hermitage Farm and chairman of the board of Churchill Downs Incorporated. Pollard and Vance also campaigned Kiss Moon’s half-sister, Kiss Mine, and their dam, Kiss the Devil. Kiss the Devil and Kiss Mine were also multiple stakes winners.
Ride On Curlin, the 2014 Arkansas Derby and Preakness runner-up, arrived on the grounds at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. … Agent Gene Short said he will represent jockey Malcolm Franklin at the 2015 meeting that begins Jan. 9. Franklin rode 13 winners at the 2013 Oaklawn meet to finish in a 13th-place tie in the standings and ranked 36th nationally in victories that year (a career-high 175). Franklin rode 101 winners at this year’s Indiana Grand meet to finish second in the standings. … The presence of newcomer Robertino Diodoro means three of the country’s four winningest trainers in 2014 will have divisions at Oaklawn in 2015. Diodoro (238) ranked fourth nationally through Sunday, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Karl Broberg (320) and three-time defending Oaklawn champion Steve Asmussen (293) ranked first and second, respectively. Diodoro was leading trainer this year at Canterbury in Minnesota. … Sugar Shock, winner of this year’s $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3), worked 5 furlongs in 1:02 on Sunday morning for trainer Doug Anderson. … Far Right, a troubled third in the $1 million Delta Jackpot (G3) on Nov. 22, worked a half-mile in :50.20 on Sunday morning for trainer Ron Moquett. … Grade III winner Den’s Legacy, a recent addition to Moquett’s barn, worked a half-mile in :51.40 on Saturday morning. The 4-year-old Medaglia d’Oro colt had been based on the West Coast with Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.