Thursday, August 20, 2015

Moquett Weighing Options for Two-time Oaklawn Stakes Winner Far Right

Trainer Ron Moquett said Far Right, the top locally based 3-year-old male this year at Oaklawn, remains under consideration for the $1.25 million Travers Stakes (G1) Aug. 29 at Saratoga. He said Far Right is also a candi-date for the $500,000 King’s Bishop Stakes (G1) Aug. 29 at Saratoga, $300,000 Smarty Jones Stakes (G3) Aug. 29 at Parx and the $400,000 Super Derby (G2) Sept. 12 at Louisiana Downs.

Moquett said he’s not waiting for the connections of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah to commit to the Travers (the 1 ¼-mile race is the target) before deciding where to send Far Right, but is instead shopping for a race that he believes best suits the ridgling’s late-running style.

“It’s just how the race shapes up,” Moquett said. “Unfortunately, we’re a horse that needs speed. If it looks like there’s a potential for a speed duel to develop, then we’ll be in whatever venue that is.”

Far Right, who is now based at Saratoga, won Oaklawn’s $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes and $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) before running a distant second behind American Pharoah in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1). He most recently finished sixth in the $500,000 Indiana Derby (G2) July 18 at Indiana Grand in his last start.

Far Right worked a half-mile in :47.65 Aug. 14 at Saratoga.
 
Let’s Play Two

Two 3-year-old fillies owned by Alex and JoAnn Lieblong of Conway, Ark., are entered in major stakes races Saturday afternoon.

High Dollar Woman, fifth in the $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes Jan. 31 at Oaklawn, drew post 11 for the $100,000 Monmouth Oaks (G3) at Monmouth Park. She is coming off a front-running, one-length victory in the $200,000 Indiana Oaks (G2) July 18 at Indiana Grand. Regular rider Joe Rocco Jr., Oaklawn’s co-eighth-leading rider this year, retains the mount on the filly for trainer Steve Hobby.

Probable post time for the 1 1/16-mile Monmouth Oaks is 4:46 p.m. (Central).

The Lieblongs will also be represented in the $600,000 Alabama Stakes (G1) at Saratoga by Embellish the Lace.
Trained by Tony Dutrow, Embellish the Lace was scheduled to make her 2015 debut Jan. 17 at Oaklawn, but was scratched from an entry-level allowance/optional claimer because of an ankle problem, Alex Lieblong said.

Embellish the Lace, in her last start, finished ninth in the $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes (G1) June 27 at Belmont Park.

She is scheduled to break from post 5 in the 1 ¼-mile Alabama.

Mother Goose winner Include Betty drew post 6 in the projected seven-horse Alabama field. She won Oaklawn’s $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 4. Drayden Van Dyke, an Eclipse Award winner as the country’s top apprentice jockey last year, retains the mount on Include Betty for trainer Tom Proctor. Van Dyke grew up near Oaklawn.

Probable post time for the Alabama is 5:07 p.m. (Central).

Making Waves

Hoppertunity, winner of last year’s $600,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn, is among 10 horses entered in the $1 million Pacific Classic (G1) Saturday at Del Mar. He is scheduled to break from post 8 under Martin Garcia and carry equal top weight of 124 pounds.

Stablemate Bayern, also trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, drew post 3. Bayern finished third in last year’s $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) before going on to two Grade 1s, including the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Hard Aces, sixth in this year’s Oaklawn Handicap (G2), drew post 4 for the 1 ¼-mile Pacific Classic. Hard Aces won the $500,000 Gold Cup (G1) June 27 at Santa Anita.

Hoppertunity, beaten a nose in the Gold Cup, is the early co-5-1 third choice for the Pacific Classic. The field is headed by two-time champion Beholder, the 5-2 program favorite who will be challenging males for the first time.

Probable post time for the Pacific Classic is 8:10 p.m. (Central).
 
Cloninger Dies

Jockey Weldon Cloninger Jr., who rode Halo America to a front-running upset victory over champion Heavenly Prize in the $150,000 Oaklawn Budweiser Breeders’ Cup Handicap in 1995, died Sunday at Cleveland Clinic hospital in Cleveland. He was 46. The rider, who was battling cancer, had only 74 mounts this year, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.

After winning the Oaklawn Budweiser Breeders’ Cup (now known as the Azeri Stakes), Cloninger rode Halo America to a runner-up finish behind Heavenly Prize – the country’s champion 3-year-old filly of 1994 – in the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) 19 days later at Oaklawn. He also won Oaklawn’s $50,000 Carousel Handicap in 1995 aboard Silverleaf.

Halo America and Silverleaf were trained by three-time Oaklawn training champion Bobby Barnett, whom Cloninger rode frequently for in the mid-1990s. He hadn’t ridden regularly in Hot Springs in almost 20 years.

Cloninger, who had been based at Presque Isle in Pennsylvania earlier this summer, rode the first of his 1,538 career North American winners in 1991, according to Equibase. His mounts earned $16,350,015.
 
Finish Lines

Gentlemen’s Bet, winner of Oaklawn’s $100,000 Hot Springs Stakes March 7, is scheduled to return to the work tab Sunday at Churchill Downs, trainer Ron Moquett said. Unraced since finishing fifth in the $100,000 Aristides Stakes (G3) May 30 at Churchill Downs, Gentlemen’s Bet is pointing for the $250,000 Phoenix Stakes (G3) Oct. 2 at Keeneland. … Moquett said he would like to run Heykittykittykitty, a two-time allowance/optional claimer winner this year at Oaklawn, at Saratoga as a bridge to restricted races this fall at Remington Park. Heykittykittykitty was bred in Oklahoma. … Oaklawn stakes winner Wolf Man Rocket ($100,000 Northern Spur April 11) has resumed training after recovering from a leg problem, said Kathy Howard, racing manager for the 3-year-old colt’s owner, Frank Fletcher of North Little Rock, Ark. Wolf Man Rocket hasn’t started since finishing last of five in the $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes (G2) May 9 at Belmont Park for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. Howard said Fletcher’s Rocket Time, fifth in the $100,000 Essex Handicap for older horses Feb. 14 at Oaklawn, has resumed training after an extended vacation. Rocket Time hasn’t started since finishing third in the $300,000 Commonwealth Stakes (G3) April 4 at Keeneland for trainer Al Stall. … Sarah Sis recorded a 5-furlong bullet workout (:59.40) Thursday morning at Arlington Park for trainer Ingrid Mason. Sarah Sis won the $150,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 7 at Oaklawn and is nominated to the $500,000 Ballerina Stakes (G1) Aug. 29 at Saratoga. … Honeybee third-place finisher Pangburn is entered in an allowance/optional claimer Friday at Saratoga. The 3-year-old Congrats filly will be making her first start for trainer Tony Dutrow after previously being with Kenny McPeek. … Quality Way, a 3-year-old half-sister to Super Ninety Nine, a record 11 ¼-length winner of Oaklawn’s $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) in 2013, is scheduled to make her career debut Saturday at Ellis Park for trainer Dan Peitz. Quality Way trained this year at Oaklawn, but the $435,000 daughter of Quality Road wasn’t close to a race.

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