Hot Springs, Ark. (Friday, Feb. 20, 2015) – Spring Included seeks her first career stakes victory in the $100,000 Spring Fever for older fillies and mares Saturday at Oaklawn. A 4-year-old daughter of Include, Spring Included is the 7-2 program favorite for the Spring Fever.
Probable post time for the 5 ½-furlong race, which has drawn an evenly matched field of eight, is 4:38 p.m. (Central). The Spring Fever is eighth of nine races on the program.
Spring Included has two runner-up stakes finishes in her 10-race career. She was beaten 2 ¾ lengths in the $150,000 Valley View Stakes (G3) Oct. 17 at Keeneland and a half-length in the $100,000 American Beauty Stakes Jan. 24 at Oaklawn. Returning to a sprint for the time since the fall, Spring Included held a narrow lead at the first three points of call in the six-furlong American Beauty before being overhauled in deep stretch by multiple stakes winner Sugar Shock.
“I thought she ran her a** off,” trainer Steve Hobby said. “I was very proud of her.”
The Valley View was 1 1/16 miles on turf, but Hobby and owner Alex Lieblong, a member of the Arkansas Racing Commission, have decided that Spring Included is a better sprinter and plan to concentrate on shorter races in the future. Spring Included will be racing at 5 ½ furlongs for the first time Saturday, but the filly has two victories and two seconds in races at 6 or 6 ½ furlongs.
Spring Included is scheduled to break from post 7 under Joe Rocco Jr. and carry 115 pounds.
The 4-1 co-second choices in the program are Boss Barney’s Babe and Heykittykittykitty. Boss Barney’s Babe will be making her first start since finishing third in last year’s Spring Fever. Trainer Bret Calhoun said Boss Barney’s Babe fractured her withers following the Spring Fever after she became excited and flipped in her stall. She has had six published workouts this year – three in January at Evangeline Training Center in Louisiana and three in Hot Springs after shipping to Oaklawn.
“I wish I would have kept her there a little longer,” Calhoun said. “I don’t think she’ll be at the top of her game off the layoff, but I think she’s ready enough for a race to move forward. Horses like her, there’s not a lot of opportunities to run her. She doesn’t have any conditions, so she’s forced into a spot like this.”
Heykittykittykitty will be making her stakes debut in unrestricted company for trainer Ron Moquett and Little Rock, Ark.-based owners Westrock Stables LLC (Joe and Scott Ford).
Heykittykittykitty exits a 1 ½-length second-level allowance/optional claiming sprint victory Feb. 6 under two-time defending Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana. She earned a career-high 82 Beyer Speed Figure.
“She’s doing good, so we might as well take a swing at them,” Moquett said. “I think she fits with those horses.”
Gratzie, Chortle, Lasting Bubbles, Haveyougoneaway and Flower Spell complete the field. Chortle was beaten a nose in last year’s Spring Fever.
The complete field for the $100,000 Spring Fever, in post position order, with riders and morning line odds: Gratzie, Alex Canchari, 15-1; Boss Barney’s Babe, Cliff Berry, 4-1; Chortle, Ramon Vazquez, 12-1; Lasting Bubbles, Luis Quinonez, 5-1; Haveyougoneaway, Jareth Loveberry, 4-1; Heykittykittykitty, Ricardo Santana Jr., Spring Included, Joe Rocco Jr., 7-2, and Flower Spell, Julio Felix, 6-1.