Saturday, April 04, 2015

Far Right Sharp in Final Arkansas Derby Drill

Multiple stakes winner Far Right recorded his final workout for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 11 Saturday morning at Oaklawn for trainer Ron Moquett. He breezed an easy half-mile in :48.80 under Greta Kuntzweiler, who regularly works the Notional ridgling. Clockers caught Far Right galloping out five furlongs over a fast track in 1:00.80.

Sunny skies and temperatures approaching 50 degrees greeted Far Right, who breezed shortly after the renovation break.

“Now we just have to keep him happy, and hope that everybody ships in well,” said Moquett, who watched the work with his son Chance and Harry Rosenblum of Little Rock, Ark., Far Right’s majority owner. “He just went nice and easy.”

Far Right is the top locally based Kentucky Derby prospect following victories in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 19 and the $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 22. Moquett opted to skip the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 14 and train Far Right up to the 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby. Saturday’s work was Far Right’s third published breeze since the Southwest.

“Just what the doctor ordered,” Rosenblum said.

Other horses on the grounds pointing for the Arkansas Derby are Bold Conquest and The Truth Or Else, third and fourth, respectively, in the Rebel, and Bridget’s Big Luvy, who arrived Wednesday for trainer Jeremiah Englehart. Bridget’s Big Luvy is coming off a victory in the $100,000 Private Terms Stakes March 21 at Laurel.

The Arkansas Derby is expected to be headed by romping Rebel winner American Pharoah, the country’s champion 2-year-old male who is scheduled to arrive Wednesday, April 8.

Post positions for the Arkansas Derby will be drawn Wednesday morning.
 
For Greater Glory

For Greater Glory was scratched from Saturday’s sixth race, a conditioned allowance/optional claimer at a mile, to run in the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 11, trainer Steve Hobby said Saturday morning. The horse breezed five furlongs in 1:01.60 just after the track opened Saturday morning.

Hobby cited an extreme outside post position (10) and the distance for opting to scratch from Saturday’s race and run in the Oaklawn Handicap at 1 1/8 miles.

“Didn’t like the post,” Hobby said. “I hate the mile with him, anyway. You’ve got to get so lucky to get up going a mile.”

Hobby said Joe Rocco Jr. will ride For Greater Glory in the Oaklawn Handicap. For Greater Glory ran fourth in the $100,000 Fifth Season Stakes Jan. 16 and the $100,000 Essex Handicap Feb. 14 before winning a March 12 allowance/optional claiming event.
 
The Last Roundup?

Veteran trainer Stanley Roberts was heading home to his Forrest City, Ark., farm Saturday morning in what is apparently his final race meet as a fully active trainer. Roberts, 73, said he’s already given many of his horses to other trainers, and, if he returns to Oaklawn in 2016, it would only been with a “few of his own.”

“You never say never, but it will be so little you won’t hardly notice me, I can tell you that,” Roberts said Saturday morning.

A former milk company manager, Roberts turned to full-time training at the age of 50 and has amassed 930 career victories, according to Equibase, overcoming a near-fatal brain aneurysm and a broken neck during his successful second career.

“I think I’ve used up all my nine lives,” Roberts said, adding he’s in good health now.

Roberts was Oaklawn’s second-leading trainer in 2002 (24 victories) and ranked in the top 100 in North American victories in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004. Roberts and former business partner Rick Turman of Jonesboro, Ark. (Highway 1 Racing Stable) topped the Oaklawn owner standings in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

“We had a good run,” Roberts said.

Roberts said he’s down to seven horses after beginning the meet with approximately 20. He stands two stallions at his Forrest City farm, A.P. Delta and Mykindacandy, and breaks babies for other clients. He raised 4-year-old multiple stakes winner Delta Flower before selling her privately late in the 2014 Oaklawn meeting. Delta Flower, now trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, was named the 2014 Arkansas-bred Horse of the Year.

“When we leave here Friday, I’ll be finished until this meet here next year,” Roberts said. “I said I’m retiring, but I may run a few of my own next winter. If I’ve got something pretty good, I may come back.”

Roberts is 1 for 42 at this year’s Oaklawn meeting.
 
Finish Lines

The infield will be open for the first time this season Saturday. … Pearl Turn, scheduled to run in Friday’s $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1), worked a half-mile in :48.60 Saturday morning for trainer Will VanMeter. … Sugar Shock, entered in Wednesday’s $100,000 Carousel Stakes, worked 3 furlongs in :35.80 Saturday morning for co-owner/trainer Doug Anderson. Sugar Shock will also be entered in the Apple Blossom, Anderson said, adding he will monitor weather conditions because the 4-year-old filly doesn’t care for an off track. … Robert N. Cline saddled his first career winner in Friday’s sixth race, Hat of Jacks ($47.60), the trainer’s fifth starter. Cline, a former exercise rider for trainer Larry Jones, is the son of the late trainer Leon Cline, who started his final horse at the 2012 Oaklawn meeting. … Friday’s sixth race, the “Fourth Annual McNaughton Classic,” honored the late Richard McNaughton, the longtime agent of two-time Oaklawn riding champion Cliff Berry. …Two-time defending Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. ($2,040,971) became the first rider at the meeting to surpass $2 million in purse earnings Friday. … Calvin Borel will ride Fair Grounds shipper Bubba Roan in the $100,000 Northern Spur Stakes April 11, said the jockey’s agent, Jerry Hissam.

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