Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Hall of Famer Smith Commits to Far Right for Derby; Top Oaklawn Jocks Pick Up Mounts
 
Far Right, the top 3-year-old based this year at Oaklawn, will be ridden in the May 2 Kentucky Derby by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, majority owner Harry Rosenblum said late Monday afternoon. Smith, who launched his stellar career at Oaklawn in the 1980s, has ridden Far Right in his last three starts, but had also been the regular rider of Bolo, who ran third in the $1 million Santa Anita Derby (G1) April 4.

Smith guided Far Right to victories in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 19 and the $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 22 before the ridgling finished a distant second to American Pharoah in the $1 million Arkan-sas Derby (G1) April 11.

Ramon Vazquez, Oaklawn’s second-leading rider this year, will retain the mount on Mr. Z for the Kentucky Derby, owner Zayat Stables announced Sunday. Vazquez, who will be making his Kentucky Derby debut, rode Mr. Z for the first time in a third-place finish in the Arkansas Derby.

Madefromlucky and Bold Conquest, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Arkansas Derby could also run in the Kentucky Derby. Three-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. would ride Bold Conquest if he runs, the jockey's agent, Ruben Munoz, said.

Madefromlucky (No. 20 in the points standings) is safely in the field – if Pletcher decides to start the colt – while Bold Conquest (No. 23) will need defections to make the starting gate. The Kentucky Derby is limited to 20 starters.

Two-time Oaklawn riding champion Calvin Borel has regained the mount on El Kabeir for the Kentucky Derby, Zayat Stables announced Sunday. Borel, a three-time winner of the Kentucky Derby, won last fall’s $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs on El Kabeir, who won the Jerome (G3) and Gotham (G3) Stakes prior to finishing third last out in the Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct with jockey C.C. Lopez.
 
Seeing Double – Almost

Conquest Curlinate earned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 95 – a career high – for his runner-up finish in Saturday’s $400,000 Illinois Derby (G3) at Hawthorne. Conquest Curlinate, a powerful Jan. 31 maiden winner at Oaklawn for trainer Mark Casse, was beaten a nose by Whiskey Ticket in the 1 1/8-mile race.

Dynamic Impact, also trained by Casse, won last year’s Illinois Derby by a nose after breaking his maiden at Oaklawn.

Phenomenal Phoenix, a March 26 allowance winner at Oaklawn, finished third in Saturday’s race, beaten four lengths.

Oaklawn-raced Private Prospect and Kantune finished sixth and eighth, respectively, behind Whiskey Ticket.
 
Delta Flower Retired

Oaklawn stakes winner Delta Flower has been retired to be bred to champion Midnight Lute, said the 4-year-old filly’s co-owner, Richard Robertson of Camden, Ark.

Robertson said Delta Flower, a daughter of A.P. Delta, was suffering from minor chronic physical problems, adding her trainer, Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, believed she would be more valuable in foal to Midnight Lute, who won an Eclipse Award as the country’s champion male sprinter of 2007.

Delta Flower was the 2014 Arkansas-bred Horse of the Year after winning 4 of 9 starts, including the $75,000 Rainbow Miss Stakes at Oaklawn and beating open company in the $75,000 Angel’s Flight Stakes at Santa Anita. The Rainbow Miss is restricted to 3-year-old fillies bred in Arkansas.

Delta Flower made her first three career starts last year for trainer Stanley Roberts, who also bred the filly in partnership and was her owner. Delta Flower was sold privately before the Rainbow Miss to a group that included Robertson and sent to Hollendorfer on the West Coast following the race.

Delta Flower, who made all nine career starts last year, retires with $168,480 in earnings.
 
Finish Lines

Three-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. will resume riding Friday at Keeneland, if a “couple get in,” according to his agent, Ruben Munoz. If the horses don’t draw in, Munoz said Santana will resume riding Saturday at Churchill Downs. He hasn’t ridden since April 8 because of pneumonia. … Jockey Jareth Loveberry and trainer J.R. Caldwell teamed for their first Keeneland victory when Defer Heaven beat $10,000 claimers Saturday. Defer Heaven was coming off a victory over $6,250 claimers April 4 at Oaklawn. Loveberry (23 victories) tied for fifth in this year’s Oaklawn jockey standings. Caldwell (eight victories) tied for 16th in the trainer standings. … Gentlemen’s Bet, last as the 4-5 favorite in the $300,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 9, worked a half-mile in :49.80 Sunday at Churchill Downs for trainer Ron Moquett. … Three-time Oaklawn training champion Kenny Smith won four races Sunday at Prairie Meadows to reach 1,000 since 1991, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Smith won seven races at this year’s Oaklawn meeting.