Saturday, December 19, 2015

Von Hemel-trained Synchrony Possible for Smarty Jones

Trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel said Synchrony is under strong consideration for the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 18 at Oaklawn, a mile race that is the first of three major local preps for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16. The lightly raced son of super sire Tapit, races for his breeder, Josephine Abercrombie’s Pin Oak Stable, and is among the most highly regarded Arkansas Derby prospects on the grounds.

In his first work over the Oaklawn surface, Synchrony breezed 5 furlongs in 1:02.80 Thursday morning immediately following the break to renovate the surface. He galloped out 6 furlongs in 1:16.80 over a fast-rated track.

After finishing second in his Sept. 12 career debut at Churchill Downs, Synchrony was a 3 ¾-length maiden special weights winner when stretching out to 7 furlongs Oct. 11 at Keeneland. In what would be his final start of the year, he cleared his first allowance condition by a head in a 7 ½-furlong race Nov. 14 at Churchill Downs.

Von Hemel said Synchrony was never a candidate for the $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) Nov. 28, the marquee event of the Churchill Downs fall meet for 2-year-olds.

“We thought three races was sufficient,” Von Hemel said. “We wanted a good, sound horse for Oaklawn.”

Although Tapit is gray, Synchrony is chestnut like his dam, the Von Hemel-trained multiple stakes winner Brownie Points. The similarities don’t end there. Von Hemel said Synchrony can get wound up leaving the track after morning training, but his behavior, up until this point, hasn’t been as bad as his mother during her racing career.

“She was a wild woman,” Von Hemel said.

Brownie Points, another Abercrombie homebred, won 9 of 27 career starts, including the $50,000 Martha Washington Stakes in 2006 at Oaklawn, and earned $951,230. She also ran second to future Horse of the Year Zenyatta in the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) in 2008 at Oaklawn.

Another Arkansas Derby prospect for Von Hemel, Suddenbreakingnews, arrived Monday after finishing second, beaten a nose, in Sunday’s $250,000 Springboard Mile Stakes at Remington Park. The trainer said the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 15 at Oaklawn is a possible target for Suddenbreakingnews, but races at Fair Grounds are also under consideration for the gelded son of 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft.

Von Hemel said he doesn’t anticipate unbeaten 2-year-old Secret Passage running at Oaklawn after the son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin suffered a recent minor physical setback. He said Secret Passage (2 for 2 for Pin Oak at Remington Park) will be sidelined a “couple of months.”
 
Pickin’ Cotton … Again?

Trainer Tom Howard of Hot Springs said Ivan Fallunovalot is being pointed for the $100,000 King Cotton Stakes Jan. 30 at Oaklawn. A 5-year-old Texas-bred gelding owned by Lewis Mathews of Bismarck, Ark., Ivan Fallunovalot was one of the top older sprinters at the 2015 Oaklawn meeting, winning the King Cotton before running second in the $100,000 Hot Springs Stakes and $300,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3).

In his last start, Ivan Fallunovalot finished ninth, beaten 6 ½ lengths by Runhappy, in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) Oct. 31 at Keeneland under his regular rider, Hall of Famer Calvin Borel.

Howard said Ivan Fallunovalot uncharacteristically broke flat-footed and “got bumped around a little near the half-mile pole” and “grabbed himself up behind the knee.”

“Calvin said they were bumping him around pretty good,” Howard said. “Behind his left knee, there was a hal-lowed out spot. That’s all I can figure out. But he came back good.”

In his first post-Breeders’ Cup work, Ivan Fallunovalot covered 3 furlongs in a pedestrian :39 Dec. 12 at Oak-lawn. Howard laughed about the time, noting Ivan Fallunovalot is a smart, laid-back horse.

“Sometimes, he just does what he wants to do,” Howard said. “He knows the difference in race day and training, that’s for sure.”

A $25,000 claim by Howard at the 2014 Oaklawn meet, Ivan Fallunovalot has a 4-2-0 record from seven starts this year and earnings of $312,200. All seven of the gelding’s races this year were at 6 furlongs. He ran under 1:10 in each start.

“He had a great year,” said Howard, who indicated the major spring objective for Ivan Fallunovalot is the $400,000 Count Fleet (G3) April 10.
 
Finish Lines

There were 827 horses on the grounds Wednesday afternoon. … Cosmic Evolution, who as a maiden won the $100,000 Debutante Stakes for 2-year-old fillies last summer at Churchill Downs, worked a half-mile in :52.80 Thursday morning for trainer Lon Wiggins. … Mr. Z is scheduled to rejoin D. Wayne Lukas’ Oaklawn barn Jan. 10 following a 40-day freshening, the Hall of Fame trainer said. Mr. Z completed a 12-race campaign in 2015 with an eighth-place finish in the $500,000 Clark Handicap (G1) Nov. 27 at Churchill Downs. Mr. Z ran third in three of Oaklawn’s Kentucky Derby prep races earlier this year, including the $1 million Arkansas Der-by (G1) in April. … Looks to Spare, who finished third in the Clark at odds of 88-1, is pointing for the $300,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) March 19 at Oaklawn, according to owner/trainer Otabek Umarov. A for-mer $5,000 claimer, Looks to Spare is among five horses for Umarov, 42, who is wintering at Oaklawn for the first time. … Umarov said he’s pointing Nov. 22 Churchill Downs allowance runner-up Incremental for the $100,000 Fifth Season Stakes Jan. 16 at Oaklawn. … Trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel said he has no specific next-race plans for unbeaten 2-year-old filly My Master Plan, winner of Sunday’s $100,000 Trapeze Stakes at Remington Park in her two-turn debut. Among the races under consideration, Von Hemel said, is the $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes Feb. 6 at Oaklawn. … Von Hemel said Moving Away, barring any weather-related setbacks, could make her career debut around Feb. 1. Moving Away is a 2-year-old full sister to 2012 Oaklawn Handicap winner and millionaire Alternation, also campaigned by Von Hemel and owner/breeder Josephine Abercrombie (Pin Oak Stable). … Agent Ruben Munoz said he will again represent Ramon Vazquez, Oak-lawn’s second-leading jockey in 2015, at the 2016 Oaklawn meeting. Munoz also represents three-time defend-ing Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. Munoz said both riders will arrive in Hot Springs in early January to begin getting on horses.
 
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