Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Knights Key Works; Targets Smarty Jones

Impressive maiden winner Knights Key had his first work over the Oaklawn surface, breezing a half-mile in :50.80 over a fast track about 25 minutes after Oaklawn opened for training on a sunny Tuesday morning.

Trainer Steve Hobby of Hot Springs said he was looking for a “nice, easy” breeze from Knights Key, who, in his only career start, overcame a sluggish break to post a last-to-first sprint victory Nov. 20 at Churchill Downs.

Hobby said he continues to target the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 18 at Oaklawn for Knights Key, a son of Giant’s Causeway and half-brother to Grade 1-winning turf standout Lochte. The one-mile Smarty Jones would mark the two-turn debut for the colt, owned by Alex and JoAnn Lieblong of Conway, Ark.

The Lieblongs also own Mo for the Money, who finished third in the $150,000 King’s Swan Stakes Nov. 27 at Aqueduct for trainer Tony Dutrow, who will also have horses at Oaklawn this winter.

“I’m sure they’ll be aiming in the same direction,” Hobby said of the Smarty Jones. “We’ll make a decision when we get closer. Might as well train for that direction and see what happens.”

Hobby and the Lieblongs teamed to win the 2012 Smarty Jones with Junebugred.

Also working Tuesday for Hobby was Sassy Miss Sue, an unstarted 2-year-old full sister to Grade 1 winner and millionaire Tiz Miz Sue. She breezed a half-mile in :50.60 about five minutes after the track opened for training at 7 a.m. (Central). Hobby said Sassy Miss Sue, by Tiznow, should debut early in the Oaklawn meeting, perhaps opening day.

Hobby saddled Tiz Miz Sue to win Oaklawn’s Azeri Stakes (G3) in 2012 and 2013 and also trained Sue’s Good News, the dam of both Tiz Miz Sue and Sassy Miss Sue.

Sue’s Good News won her first three career starts at the 2003 Oaklawn meeting, including the Instant Racing Breeders’ Cup Stakes for owner/breeder Carol Ricks. Ricks, a longtime client of Hobby’s, also bred and owns Tiz Miz Sue and Sassy Miss Sue.
 
Making Plans

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has penciled in stakes races next month at Oaklawn for two of his top sprinters. Super Saks is pointing for the $100,000 American Beauty for older fillies and mares Jan. 23, while
Brewing is scheduled to run in the $100,000 King Cotton for older horses Jan. 30, according to the trainer.

Brewing, as a 3-year-old, won the $100,000 Gazebo Stakes and $100,000 Bachelor Stakes at the 2014 Oaklawn meeting. Super Saks, a swift 3-year-old daughter of Sky Mesa, broke her maiden by 11 lengths at the 2015 Oaklawn meeting and won the $80,000 Dream Supreme Stakes Nov. 27 at Churchill Downs in her last start.

Both horses tuned up for their stakes engagements with half-mile workouts Monday morning at Oaklawn. Super Saks covered the distance in :49.20, Brewing in :50.40.

Finish Lines

There were 725 horses on the grounds early Tuesday morning. … The final career victory for two-time Oaklawn riding champion Cliff Berry was aboard Fire Mission for owner Staton Flurry of Hot Springs Friday at Remington Park. Berry was a combined 0 for 8 Saturday and Sunday at Remington, including a seventh aboard Better Than Magic in Sunday’s $250,000 Springboard Mile Stakes, the jockey’s final career mount. Berry, 53, retired with 4,457 career victories to rank 44th in North American history, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Berry, who rode his first winner in 1981, was Oaklawn’s leading rider in 2011 and 2012. … Ramon Vazquez, Oaklawn’s second-leading jockey in 2015, rode 87 winners to tie C.J. McMahon for leading rider at the Remington Park meeting that concluded Sunday. … Danny Caldwell has once again swept the leading owner titles at the three tracks he competes at during the year by earning his sixth straight title at Remington Park. He was also the leading owner at Oaklawn and Prairie Meadows in 2014 and ’15. Caldwell entered Tuesday tied for fourth nationally this year in victories (117).

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