Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Oaklawn Runners Prominent Among Travers Nominations

Five of the 16 horses nominated to the $1.25 million Travers Stakes (G1) Aug. 29 at Saratoga ran this spring at Oaklawn, including Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. The purse for Travers will be raised to $1.6 million if American Pharoah starts in the 1 ¼-mile Midsummer Derby.

American Pharoah, who is currently targeting the Travers, worked a half-mile Sunday at Del Mar, the champion’s first breeze since winning the $1.75 million Haskell Invitational (G1) Aug. 2 at Monmouth Park. He covered the distance in :47.60 after recording early splits of :12.40, :24.60 and :35.80. He galloped out 5 furlongs in :59.80 and 6 furlongs in 1:13.60.

American Pharoah began his 3-year-old campaign with runaway victories in Oaklawn’s $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 14 and the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 11.

Also nominated to the Travers is Far Right, who won Oaklawn’s $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes and $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) before running second in the Arkansas Derby.

Trainer Ron Moquett said he plans to run Far Right at the Saratoga meeting, with the ridgling also nominated to the $500,000 King’s Bishop Stakes (G1) at 7 furlongs on the Travers undercard.

Far Right worked a half-mile in :47.65 Friday at Saratoga.

Mr. Z, third in the Smarty Jones, Rebel and Arkansas Derby, is nominated to the Travers, but Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said the colt is pointing for the King’s Bishop.

Madefromlucky and King of New York are also nominated to the Travers. Madefromlucky, who has since won the Peter Pan Stakes (G2) and West Virginia Derby (G2), finished second in the Rebel and fourth in the Arkansas Derby. King of New York broke his maiden on the Rebel undercard.

Nominations to the Travers closed Saturday.
 
‘Ivan’ the Great

Trainer Tom Howard said Ivan Fallunovalot is a Breeders’ Cup Sprint candidate following his sharp comeback victory Saturday night at Remington Park.

Under confident handling by Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel, Ivan Fallunovalot came from just off the pace to score a 3 ¾-length victory in the $75,000 David M. Vance Sprint Stakes, the gelding’s second consecutive victory in the 6-furlong race.

The Vance Sprint Stakes was the first start for Ivan Fallunovalot since he finished second to Alsvid in the $300,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap April 9 at Oaklawn.

Ivan Fallunovalot ran the distance in 1:09.01.

“I wanted to get a prep race in him at Lone Star, but it still worked out good,” Howard said. “We were just concerned that if he got into a speed duel that he might struggle because he wasn’t fit enough.”

Howard said Ivan Fallunovalot is under consideration for the $150,000 Remington Park Sprint Cup Sept. 27 at Remington Park and the $250,000 Phoenix Stakes (G3) Oct. 2 at Keeneland. Alsvid is pointing for the Phoenix, trainer Chris Hartman said.

The Phoenix is a “Win and You’re In” event for the $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) Oct. 31 at Keeneland.

“The Breeders’ Cup is on our radar,” Howard said.

Ivan Fallunovalot was one of the top sprinters at the 2015 Oaklawn meeting. The gelding won his 5-year-old debut Jan. 22, won the $100,000 King Cotton Stakes Feb. 7 and finished second in the $100,000 Hot Springs Stakes March 7.
 
I Love the ’80s

Don Von Hemel, Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 1981, recorded his biggest victory in almost four years when Smack Smack edged Russellin by a half-length to win the $175,000 Governor’s Cup Stakes Saturday night at Remington Park.

The Governor’s Cup also represented Von Hemel’s biggest victory since he turned 80 in May 2014. Earlier this summer, he won the $100,000 Saylorville Stakes at Prairie Meadows with Ghost Locket.

Ghost Locket ran second in her first three career starts at the 2014 Oaklawn meeting and was a March 28 allowance this winner in Hot Springs. Smack Smack, a 4-year-old Closing Argument gelding bred and owned by country music star Toby Keith, has trained at Oaklawn, but never raced in Hot Springs.

Smack Smack missed the 2014 meeting because of a quarter-crack and was on an extended break at this year’s meeting.

Von Hemel recorded his most lucrative career victory when Now I Know captured the $500,000 Delta Princess Stakes (G3) in November 2011 at Delta Downs. The Hot Springs resident had a 4-3-4 record from 20 starts this year at Oaklawn.
 
$20 Million Man?

Ricardo Santana Jr., Oaklawn’s leading rider the last three years, can surpass $20 million in career North American purse earnings Tuesday at Indiana Grand.

Santana, 22, entered Tuesday with $19,973,129 in career purse earnings, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.

Santana is scheduled to ride Bellamy Boy in the sixth race, and the jockey would reach the milestone with a victory.

Santana, who recorded his first North American winner in 2009, is the first jockey since Hall of Famer Pat Day to win three consecutive riding titles at Oaklawn.

Day was Oaklawn’s leading rider from 1983-1994.
 
Finish Lines

The Pizza Man, who trained at Oaklawn late in the 2015 meeting, won Saturday’s Arlington Million (G1) at Arlington Park. … Sarah Sis, who won the $150,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 7 at Oaklawn, is nominated to the $500,000 Ballerina (G1) Aug. 29 at Saratoga. The 3-year-old filly missed the $500,000 Test Stakes (G1) Aug. 8 at Saratoga because of a minor health setback, trainer Ingrid Mason said.

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