Oaklawn Barn Notes - Jan. 29

Jan. 29, 2014

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Nancy Ury-Holthus, nury@oaklawn.com, (501) 623-4411 ex. 496
Jennifer Hoyt, jhoyt@oaklawn.com (501) 623-4411 ex. 497

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Strong Mandate Leads 3-year-olds Working Towards Southwest Stakes

Hot Springs has been very fortunate this winter compared to the rest of the country, but it could not escape another round of Artic air that closed Oaklawn’s track for training Tuesday and delayed the opening Wednesday until 10 a.m. Several trainers, aware of the weather, sent their horses to the track Monday for workouts, including Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas who sent his Southwest Stakes (G3) hopeful Strong Mandate out for a bullet workout.

Robert Baker and William Mack’s Strong Mandate covered five furlongs in 1:00 2/5, the fastest of 60 at the distance. It was his fourth work this year as he prepares to make his seasonal debut in the Feb. 17 Southwest. The Tiznow colt, who won the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga last September, has not started since closing out his Juvenile year with a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

“In light of the track surface and the way the track was playing that day, I was very impressed,” said Lukas. “His gallop out was extremely strong. He got the fastest time of the day and I couldn’t have been any happier with how he went.”

Also working toward the Southwest Monday was Michael Langford’s Dunkin Bend, now in the hands of trainer Brad Cox. The Dunkirk colt, who most recently finished second in the Big Drama Stakes at Delta Downs Jan. 4, worked four furlongs in 49 4/5. His biggest win as a 2-year-old came last September when he won the Grade 3 Sapling Stakes at Monmouth Park and after closing out the year with two off-the-board performances, he appears to be rounding back into that form.

“He hadn’t had a work since his race at Delta, so we gave him an easy half mile maintenance work and he’ll go 5/8ths next week,” said Cox. “He’s being pointed toward the Southwest for his next start.”

Trainer Cody Autrey, who has gotten off to a fast start with 10 wins over the first 12 days of racing, could have two starters in the Southwest with Smarty Jones winner Tanzanite Cat and his regular workmate Paganonl, who broke his maiden in impressive fashion at Oaklawn Jan. 11. Paganol moved one step closer to his stakes debut by working a half mile in 50 1/5 Monday.

“It was a nice rhythm for an easy half mile,” said Autrey. “We had to move back the work a day because of the weather. We’ll definitely get more serious over the next couple of weeks as we get closer to the race.”