Oaklawn Barn Notes - Jan. 8

Jan. 8, 2014

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Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Will Take Charge Chief among Oaklawn Connections Receiving Eclipse Award Nominations

The nominations for the 43rd Annual Eclipse Awards were announced Thursday with several having Oaklawn connections. The Eclipse Awards are voted on by members of the Daily Racing Form, the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, which includes racing secretaries and members of Equibase. 

Will Take Charge, winner of the 2013 Smarty Jones Stakes and Grade 2 Rebel Stakes, is a finalist for Horse of the Year against last year’s winner Wise Dan and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man, who narrowly defeated Will Take Charge in the Classic. While considered an underdog for Horse of the Year, he is the likely favorite for Champion 3-year-old male after also winning the Grade 1 Travers Stakes and Grade 1 Clark Handicap. Other finalists are Kentucky Derby winner Orb and Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice. His trainer, D. Wayne Lukas, the most successful trainer in the history of Thoroughbred racing, will receive the Eclipse Award of Merit for a lifetime of outstanding achievement in the industry. Lukas has trained 24 previous Eclipse Award winning horses, including three Horse of the Years - Lady’s Secret (1986), Criminal Type (1990) and Charismatic (1999). He has also won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer four times (1985, ’86, ‘87, and ‘94).

“I was certainly hoping that he’d be double nominated (for Horse of the Year and Champion 3-year-old) and I was relieved when he was,” said Will Take Charge’s owner Willis D. Horton of Marshall, AR. “We felt like we already had Champion 3-year-old sewn up. We’ll be there with bells on and proud to be representing Arkansas.”

In the category of champion older female, Grade 3 Azeri Stakes winner and Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap winner Tiz Miz Sue earned a nomination along with 2011 Fantasy Stakes winner Joyful Victory and two time Eclipse winner Royal Delta. Secret Circle, who won the 2012 Grade 3 Southwest Stakes, Grade 2 Rebel Stakes, and was runner- up in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby is a finalist for Male Sprinter along with Points Offthebench and Met Mile winner Sahara Sky. 

“I feel really good about it, but I’m even happier for Mrs. Ricks,” said Tiz Miz Sue’s trainer Steve Hobby. “I missed a set training this morning because I wanted to watch the nominations.”

Oaklawn’s leading owner for the last two years, Richard and Karen Papiese of Midwest Thoroughbreds, are among the finalists for owner along with Ken and Sarah Ramsey and Prince Khalid Abdullah of Juddmonte Farms. The Eclipse Awards dinner and ceremony will take place at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida Saturday, Jan. 18. 

Cyber Secret, Donoharm Top 13-horse Field in Saturday’s Fifth Season Stakes

Charles J. Cella’s Cyber Secret, winner of the 2013 Razorback and Oaklawn Handicaps, and Donoharm, winner of the 2013 Fifth Season Stakes and Essex Handicap at Oaklawn, are both looking to get the 2014 meet off to fast start with a victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Fifth Season Stakes. The 1 1/16-mile race for 4-year-olds and upward drew a field of 13.

Cyber Secret was undefeated in four starts at Oaklawn last year, winning two allowance starts before his stakes triumphs. After finishing second in the Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs May 3, but getting disqualified, the Broken Vow horse was given a breather and did not resurface until Nov. 9 when he finished second in an allowance. In his most recent start, he set a track record at Turfway Park in winning the Prairie Bayou Stakes.

Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch’s Donoharm was winning his fifth straight start when he captured the Essex Handicap. He unfortunately didn’t fire in his next start and finished eighth behind Cyber Secret in the Razorback. Most recently he returned from a sixth-month break to finish fourth in the Delta Mile and has been training forwardly for his attempt at a Fifth Season repeat.

“He had a great season at Oaklawn last year,” said trainer Bret Calhoun. “He had a great work over the surface the other day and we’re all very optimistic.”

Other notable Fifth Season starters include Texas Bling, who competed in all of Oaklawn’s 3-year-old races last year, graded stakes winner Stealcase, and stakes winners Right to Vote and Jaguar Paw.

The complete field for the Fifth Season, in post-position order, with riders: Ted’s Folly, Ramon Vazquez;  Texas Bling, Jeremy Rose; Stachys, Luis Quinonez; Dipsy Drew, Jon Court; Drogue, Calvin Borel; Joy Boy, Francisco Torres; Cyber Secret, Robby Albarado; Stealcase, Eurico Da Silva; Jaguar Paw, Channing Hill; Occasional View, Terry Thompson; Right to Vote, Ricardo Santana Jr.; Donoharm, Cliff Berry, and Big Town, Noberto Arroyo Jr.