Cates Happy to Be Back Home

Oaklawn had 231 horses on the grounds Tuesday morning, including 15 for Al Cates of Hot Springs, one of the top ten trainers in 2015. He won 12 races this year at Oaklawn, then added 14 victories at Louisiana Downs, which closed Sept. 19.

“It’s so cool to be home,” Cates said.

Cates’ stable is headed by Mallard’s Bro, a 5-year-old gelding who scored his biggest career victory in the 2014 $75,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile race is restricted to Arkansas-breds. He hasn’t started since finishing eighth in the $75,000 Unbridled Stakes Sept. 12 at Louisiana Downs.

“He’s been on a six-week vacation,” Cates said. “Doing great. He’ll have his regular campaign here.”

Mallard’s Bro, bred and owned by Arkansas-based Five Star Racing Stable, ran third in last year’s Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes.

Cates’ most promising young horse is Heat Road, a 2-year-old son of 2005 Wood Memorial winner Bellamy Road.  In his only career start, he finished second, beaten a neck, in an Aug. 14 maiden special weight sprint at Louisiana Downs as the 1-2 betting favorite.

“Lot of buzz,” Cates said. “He’s one of the horses we’re bringing in this year that we’re definitely excited about.”

Cates said he decided to point Heat Road for the Oaklawn meeting because “he’s a big horse” and turning him out would give him time to “mature.”

“There really wasn’t anything wrong,” Cates said. “He’s so big.”

Cates said Heat Road should make his 3-year-old debut early in the Oaklawn meeting. The trainer said he will be shopping for a two-turn race. “A mile would be absolutely perfect,” Cates said.

Owner Jeff Heslep, a Beebe, Ark., concrete company executive, purchased Heat Road for $32,000 at the Keen-eland September Yearling Sale. Cates and Heslep teamed to win a 2013 maiden special weights sprint at
Oaklawn with Jan’s Perfect Star, who whipped Arkansas-bred fillies and mares by 12 lengths in her career de-but.

Jan’s Perfect Star was sold privately following that race, won the Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes in her next start and an allowance race that summer at Saratoga.

In addition to Cates, other trainers with horses on the grounds in advance of Oaklawn’s Jan. 15 opening include Jinks Fires, Paul Holthus, Tom Howard, Ron Moquett, Randy Morse, Dan Peitz, Chris Richard, Mac Robertson and Don Von Hemel.

Most of the early arrivals live or have homes in Hot Springs.
 
Santana Rises in the Fall

Three-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. had three winners on Sunday’s closing-day card at Churchill Downs to complete his most successful fall meeting since he became a regular at the Kentucky track in 2013.

Santana finished the 21-day meet with 21 victories from 107 mounts and purse earnings of $821,759.

Santana ranked second in victories – perennial Churchill Downs riding champion Corey Lanerie had 33 – and third in purse earnings. He won 12 races at the 2013 Churchill Downs fall meeting and eight last year.

Santana and Lanerie shared the riding title at Churchill Downs’ 2014 September meeting. Each rode 13 winners.
 
Super Race

Super Saks, an 11-length maiden special weights winner Jan. 30 at Oaklawn, won Friday’s $80,000 Dream Su-preme Stakes at Churchill Downs for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

The Dream Supreme was the first career stakes victory for Super Saks, a 3-year-old daughter of Sky Mesa who was ridden by two-time Oaklawn champion jockey Robby Albarado. Super Saks covered 6 furlongs over a fast track in 1:09.33.

As a maiden, Super Saks ran third in the $100,000 Dixie Belle Stakes Jan. 15 at Oaklawn. She also ran unplaced in both the Honeybee (G3) and Fantasy (G3) Stakes.
 
Milestone for Loveberry

Jareth Loveberry, among Oaklawn’s top five riders in 2015, recorded his 1,000th career North American victory Saturday at Remington Park, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.

Loveberry, 28, rode 23 winners this year at Oaklawn. He rode his first winner in 2005.
 
Finish Lines

Gate training at Oaklawn is scheduled to begin Dec. 14, according to David Longinotti, the track’s director of racing. Longinotti said timed workouts are also scheduled to begin Dec. 14, but may be sooner, depending on the horse population. … Steve Asmussen, Oaklawn’s six-time training champion, claimed the Churchill Downs fall meet title with 13 victories. Oaklawn regulars Chris Richard (10) and Brad Cox (nine) finished second and tied for third, respectively. … Commissioner, sixth in the 2014 Arkansas Derby, won Saturday’s $250,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup (G2) at Hawthorne in his final career start before beginning a stallion career next year at Kentucky’s WinStar Farm.  
 
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