Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Truth Or Else Gets Major Test in Southwest

Trainer Kenny McPeek said in late December that he believed The Truth Or Else could be an Arkansas Derby candidate. He may get his answer Monday afternoon at Oaklawn when The Truth Or Else makes his scheduled 3-year-old debut in the $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles.

The Truth Or Else has kept some fast company since breaking his maiden September 12 at Belmont Park in New York. In his final three starts at two, The Truth Or Else faced the likes of Daredevil, Upstart, Blofeld, El Kabeir, Leave the Light On and Frosted.

“He’s working lights out,” McPeek said Sunday morning. “It’s still a little ambitious for him, maybe.”

Calvin Borel is scheduled to ride The Truth Or Else for the first time in the Southwest, but the Hall of Fame jockey has been aboard the chestnut son of Yes It’s True in the morning, including a three-furlong bullet workout (:35.20) Friday.

“Calvin is really fond of the horse and thinks he could be anything, but he’s going to have to run back to his maiden win and improve,” McPeek said. “But I think he can do it.”

The colt, a $110,000 yearling purchase, is scheduled to break from post five Monday. He is 20-1 in the program.

The Truth Or Else ran third in the $500,000 Champagne Stakes (G1) Oct. 4 at Belmont Park and the $250,000 Nashua Stakes (G2) Nov. 2 at Aqueduct.
 
Near-Perfect Gentlemen

In his long-awaited return to the races, Gentlemen’s Bet finished third, beaten a half-length, in Saturday’s sev-enth race, an allowance/optional claiming sprint. He was making his first start since finishing third in the $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) in November 2013 at Santa Anita.

Under Ramon Vazquez, Gentlemen’s Bet, who was sidelined in 2014 with a foot injury, led to deep stretch before being edged by Z Rockstar and Unbridled’s Note.

“I’m proud of the way he ran,” trainer Ron Moquett said Sunday morning. “I’m proud of the way he came back. “He’s been dormant for so long, it’s funny. I was finally happy to see his big, black butt moving.”

Owner Harry Rosenblum, who calls Gentlemen’s Bet a “once in a lifetime horse,” praised Moquett for his pa-tience with the 6-year-old.

“Off a 16-month layoff, I’d say the horse ran to my expectations,” Rosenblum said. “He ran a super race. Ron did a good job getting him up to that.”

Moquett said Gentlemen’s Bet is under consideration for the $100,000 Hot Springs Stakes March 7 and the $300,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 9.

The ultimate goal this year, Moquett said, is the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
 
Riding to the Razorback?

Trainer Billy Gowan said Ride On Curlin came out of Saturday’s runner-up finish in the $100,000 Essex Handicap in good order and will point for the $250,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) March 14, if there are no setbacks. Returning to a two-turn race for the first time since June, Ride On Curlin, as the 4-5 favorite, finished 1 ¾ lengths behind Golden Lad in the 1 1/16-mile Essex.

“He probably got a tick tired at the end,” Gowan said Sunday morning. “We were still the widest of all. I guess that’s the way he runs. He ought to really be tough that next race.”

Ride On Curlin prepped for the Essex with a second-level allowance/optional claimer sprint victory Jan. 15. It marked the 4-year-old’s first start since the Belmont Stakes in June.

“If he comes out of this race as well as did the last one, I definitely think we’ll run in the Razorback,” Gowan said. “Same distance, same track.”

Ride On Curlin is still seeking his first stakes victory, and first victory around two turns. The son of Curlin has a 3-4-4 record from 14 lifetime starts and earnings of $771,287.
 
Santana’s Start

Two-time defending Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. recorded his eighth multi-win day of the meeting Saturday when he rode three winners, including Golden Lad in the $100,000 Essex Handicap for older horses. Through 20 days of racing, Santana tops the standings in victories (26) and purse earnings ($915,958).

Santana had 15 victories and $676,949 in purse earnings through the first 20 days of last year’s meeting. He finished out the meet with 59 winners and had 70 in 2013.

“Blessings from above,” Santana’s agent, Ruben Munoz, said.

Santana, 22, is seeking to become the first jockey to win three consecutive Oaklawn riding titles since Hall of Famer Pat Day, who won 12 consecutive (1983-1994).

Santana has ridden his 26 winners for 14 trainers, including 10 for Steve Asmussen. He has also ridden four winners for another longtime supporter, trainer Ron Moquett.
 
Finish Lines

Super Saks, pointing for the $150,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 7, worked a mile in 1:42.60 just after the track opened for training Sunday morning for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Super Sacks, who broke her maiden by 11 lengths sprinting Jan. 30, will be stretching out to 1 1/16 miles in the Honeybee. … After the break, the Lukas-trained Brewing worked a half-mile in :48.80 in preparation for the $100,000 Hot Springs Stakes March 7. … Unbeaten 3-year-old Subtle Indian is pointing for the $100,000 Gazebo Stakes March 21, said Rob Atras, who oversees trainer Robertino Diodoro’s Oaklawn division. Diodoro, the country’s fifth-winningest trainer last year, has a string at Oaklawn for the first time in 2015. ... Atras is the trainer of record for unbeaten 3-year-old Tappin Vegas, who is entered in a Thursday entry-level allowance race at 1 1/16 miles. Atras said Diodoro will begin a 15-day suspension Monday for a medication violation that occurred late last year at Turf Paradise in Phoenix. Diodoro also has divisions at Turf Paradise and Santa Anita this winter. … Pocahontas runner-up Pangburn is scheduled to make her 3-year-old debut Friday in a possible prep for the Honeybee, trainer Kenny McPeek said. … Oaklawn recorded season highs Saturday for attendance (estimated 24,000), on-track handle ($1,524,864) and total handle ($5,011,025).
 
 

-30-