Saturday, February 14, 2015

Far Right Made Favorite for Monday’s Southwest

Far Right has been installed the 3-1 program favorite for the $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds, scheduled to be run Monday afternoon at Oaklawn. Far Right is coming off a 1 ¾-length victory in the Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 19. Mr. Z, who finished a troubled third in the Smarty Jones, is the early 7-2 second choice for the 1 1/16-mile Southwest.

Oddsmaker Russ Ramstad said the presence of Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith steered him toward Far Right over Mr. Z, who held a clear lead turning for home in the Smarty Jones before ducking out suddenly when struck left-handed by Jon Court. Mr. Z went off the 6-5 favorite for the Smarty Jones. Far Right, ridden for the first time by Smith, was the 5-2 second choice.

“Mike Smith’s a money rider,” Ramstad said. “You don’t know what Mr. Z is going to do.”

Ramstad made the lightly raced J S Bach the 4-1 co-third choice in the program. J S Bach is trained by Todd Pletcher, who won last year’s $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) with Danza.

Ramstad said he established his line as if War Story was in the 12-horse field. But citing post position (No. 11) and the possibility of winter weather, trainer Tom Amoss said early Friday afternoon that War Story would scratch from the Southwest and return to Fair Grounds in New Orleans for the $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2) Feb. 21.

“I tried to do it like he was running,” Ramstad said late Saturday morning. “But technically, he’s not scratched. He hasn’t dropped a scratch card.”

Ramstad also made War Story 4-1 in the program for the Southwest, which is expected to have 11 starters.

Mr. Z, who is scheduled to ridden for the first time Monday by Corey Nakatani, schooled in the paddock before Saturday morning’s renovation break. The Malibu Moon colt, who was washy going to the gate for the Smarty Jones, was accompanied to the paddock by his Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

Probable post time for the Southwest, the ninth of 10 races on a special Presidents’ Day program, is 5:09 p.m. (Central).
 
Back to work

Arkansas Derby candidate I Spent It worked a half-mile in :48.80 after the break Saturday morning, the 3-year-old colt’s second breeze since undergoing surgery last fall for a knee chip.

Under exercise rider Jose Vargas, I Spent It worked from the three-eighths pole to the seven-eighths pole. He had worked 3 furlongs in :37.20 Feb. 7.

“Just building him up,” trainer Tony Dutrow said. “It went so good last time. We knew because he had a workout that he would obviously be more fit, more into it. And, he was. Maybe if we had gone from the half-mile pole, he would have gone a little bit too fast.”

Dutrow said I Spent It, a son of Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, remains under consideration for the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 14 and the $100,000 Gazebo Stakes March 21. The $600,000 yearling purchase is also eligible for a conditioned allowance race, Dutrow noted.

I Spent It hasn’t started since finishing last of six in the $500,000 Champagne Stakes (G1) Oct. 4 at Belmont Park. He scored his biggest career victory to date in the $200,000 Saratoga Special (G2) in August at Saratoga.
 
Saving the Best for Last?

Mufajaah looked like a future stakes winner when she strung together consecutive victories at the 2014 Oaklawn meeting. It happened, but not in the timeframe trainer Dan Peitz envisioned.

“A little bit surprised,” Peitz said.

Peitz said he believed so much in the then-3-year-old daughter of Tapit that he told a representative of the filly’s owner, Shadwell Farm, that she would break through in stakes company last year.

“And, we didn’t,” Peitz said. “I was wrong. But, I always thought that she was that caliber.”

After failing in three stakes attempts last year, Mufajaah – in her 11th lifetime start – was a sparkling three-length winner of the $100,000 Pippin Stakes for older fillies and mares Jan. 17. Now she’s the 5-2 program favorite for Sunday’s $100,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles.

Peitz said the Bayakoa may be the final career start for Mufajaah, a $375,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sales purchase for Shadwell (Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum). Peitz refers to Sheikh Hamdan, Dubai’s Deputy Ruler and Minister of Finance and Industry for the United Arab Emirates, as “The Boss.”

Peitz said Sheikh Hamdan normally breeds his 4-year-old fillies.

“If he races them at 4, he races them real early in the year,” Peitz said. “He just doesn’t like to over race the fillies.”

Peitz said the Pippin was originally scheduled to be Mufajaah’s final career start, but she ran well enough to tackle graded stakes competition again in the Bayakoa. After breaking her maiden by 4 ½ lengths and clearing her first allowance condition by 2 ½ lengths, Mufajaah finished sixth in the Fantasy Stakes (G3), eighth in the Eight Belles Stakes (G3) and sixth in the Falls City Handicap (G2). Mufajaah, in her 4-year-old debut, earned a career-high 89 Beyer Speed Figure in winning the Pippin.

“What I would love for her to do if to blitz them again, and then him say, ‘Why don’t we just run her through the rest of the year?’ ” Peitz, referring to Sheikh Hamdan, jokingly said.

The Pippin victory increased Mufajaah’s career earnings to $177,140. But she may have more value as a broodmare because she’s by Tapit, one of the world’s most influential stallions, out of Carolyn’s Cat, a multiple graded stakes winner.

“Now, we’d liked to get some graded type with her,” Peitz said of Mufajaah.
 
Finish Lines

Jockey Malcolm Franklin, 0 for 38 at the meeting, will be moving his tack after Sunday’s program, according to his agent, Gene Short. Franklin will resume riding at Laurel or Turfway, Short said. Short said he’s now representing Alex Canchari, who was 0 for 29 at the Santa Anita winter/spring meet. Canchari is named on horses the next three racing days at Oaklawn and has ridden in Hot Springs in past years. … Hebbronville, in his first work since finishing sixth in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 19, breezed a half-mile in :48.20 Saturday morning for trainer Lynn Whiting. Hebbronville’s training was briefly interrupted following the Smarty Jones when Whiting said the 3-year-old dislodged several teeth in a freak stall accident. … Street Strategy, in his first work since a powerful Jan. 30 entry-level allowance victory, worked a half-mile in :50.60 Saturday morning for trainer Randy Morse, who said the 4-year-old is a candidate for the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 11. … Spring Included, scheduled to start in the $100,000 Spring Fever Stakes Feb. 24, worked a half-mile in :50.20 Saturday morning for trainer Steve Hobby. … Sarah Sis, pointing for the $150,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 7, worked a half-mile in :49.80 Saturday morning for trainer Ingrid Mason. …
Quality Way, a 3-year-old unstarted half-sister to 2013 Southwest winner Super Ninety Nine, worked a half-mile in :50.60 Saturday morning for trainer Dan Peitz.



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