Saturday, February 21, 2015

Take Charge Brandi Posts Bullet Saturday

Champion Take Charge Brandi posted a five-furlong bullet work (1:00.40) Saturday at Oaklawn, a major move in preparation for the $150,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies March 7. Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas breezed Take Charge Brandi with male stablemates Vogner and Sierra Delta - both 3-year-old maidens - moments after the track opened for training at 7 a.m. (Central).

Cloudy skies, fog and distant lightning greeted Take Charge Brandi, who started some eight lengths behind her stablemates at the 5-furlong pole. She began to cut into the deficit on the outside around the turn and briefly appeared like should we would reel in the duo in the upper stretch.

But Take Charge Brandi finished about four lengths behind Sierra Romeo and Vogner, who were both credited with five furlongs in 1:01.60. Following opening splits of :11.80, :23.80 and: 36.40, Take Charge Brandi covered her final quarter-mile in :24 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.40, according to Oaklawn lead clocker Jim Hamilton. The surface was rated good for Take Charge Brandi’s work, but heavy rain began falling moments later, eventually flooding parts of the infield.

Take Charge Brandi, who earned an Eclipse Award as the country’s champion 2-year-old filly, opened 2015 with a head victory in the $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes Jan. 31.

Lukas said Saturday morning that he still plans to start Super Saks, a front-running 11-length maiden winner sprinting Jan. 30, in the 1 1/16-mile Honeybee as well.
 
Pangburn’s Return

Lightly raced Pangburn may or may not run in the $150,000 Honeybee (G3) March 7, but her 3-year-old debut was a smashing success, trainer Kenny McPeek said Saturday morning.

Pangburn powered to a 1 ¼-length entry-level allowance victory in Friday’s ninth race under Jesus Castanon, winning for the second time in three lifetime starts. She was last away after having her head turned to the left at the start, McPeek said, was still last with three furlongs remaining and six-wide turning for home. Despite the trouble, the Congrats filly covered 1 1/16 miles over a fast track in a solid 1:45.16 and paid $5.80 as the 9-5 favorite.

“I’ve always said she’s as good, if not better, than Rosalind,” McPeek said, referring to his Grade 1-winning filly of 2014. “She’s pretty special.”

McPeek had hoped to launch Pangburn’s 2015 campaign in a Feb. 5 entry-level allowance race as a prep for the Honeybee, but it didn’t fill. Asked if Pangburn would now wheel back in 15 days for the Honeybee McPeek said, “We’ll see.”

McPeek said he still hopes to use the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 4 as Pangburn’s final prep for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) May 1 at Churchill Downs.

Owned by Arkansas lumberman John Ed Anthony’s Shortleaf Stable, Pangburn won her July 12 career debut at Ellis Park before running second in the $200,000 Pocahontas Stakes (G2) Sept. 6 Churchill Downs. McPeek said she was preparing for the $400,000 Alcibiades Stakes (G1) Oct. 3 at Keeneland when she contracted a virus.

A Royal Welcome

In the case of Hillbilly Royalty, timing was everything. Delaying the $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) six days because of winter weather opened the door for the unbeaten gelding to run in Sunday’s 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds.

“The extra week was the difference on whether to run in that race or not,” trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel said Saturday morning. “It works out better for him, because it figures to be a tough race, but probably not as tough as the Rebel.”

After Hillbilly Royalty scored a front-running 4 ½-length entry-level allowance victory at 1 1/16 miles Feb. 6, Von Hemel said the Langfuhr gelding would likely make his stakes debut in his next start and mentioned the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 14 as a possibility. Now, despite only two career starts, Hillbilly Royalty is the 7-2 third choice in the program for the Southwest.

Von Hemel said oddsmakers are maybe giving the gelding “too much” respect because he still has plenty to prove. Hillbilly Royalty broke his maiden at a mile Nov. 22 at Remington Park.

“It’s just a different group of horses,” Von Hemel said. “That’s a big jump from two races, which have been very good, into a graded stakes. That’s a big jump for a horse. I’m not saying he can’t do it, but I’ve been disappointed a lot of times in spots like this.”

Hillbilly Royalty is scheduled to break from post three Sunday under regular rider Luis Quinonez.
 
Eight is Enough

Mr. Z has tested stakes company eight times in his nine-career. Eight times he’s failed to win. But, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said he hasn’t lost confidence in Mr. Z, among 11 horses entered in Sunday’s $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds.

“I didn’t know how far on the totem pole, so to speak, he would go,” Lukas said. “But the more I see the horses around the country – on his best day, he’s very dangerous.”

Mr. Z was beaten a neck, a nose and head in three stakes races last year and enters the Southwest off a third-place finish, beaten 2 ¼ lengths, in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 19. Mr. Z turned for home with a clear lead before veering out suddenly when struck left-handed by Jon Court. Lukas said he believes Mr. Z would have easily won the mile race if he hadn’t taken the unexpected right turn.

Mr. Z was also washy going to the post for the Smarty Jones. Since the Smarty Jones, Lukas said he’s worked hard in the morning to get the Malibu Moon colt over his stakes curse.

“We’re getting paid to train them,” Lukas said. “If we didn’t, the car salesman would be doing this.”
 
Finish Lines

Friday’s winning $55,862.60 CLASSIX ticket was sold through Pocono Downs, said an Oaklawn official. … Trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel said Poseidon’s Way, a two-length entry-level allowance winner Thursday, is a candidate for the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) at 1 1/16 miles March 14. … Magic of Believing, who won the other half of Thursday’s split entry-level allowance race for 3-year-olds, is a candidate for the $550,000 Spiral Stakes (G3) March 21 at Turfway Park and the $800,000 Sunland Derby (G3) March 22 at Sunland Park, trainer Kenny McPeek said. McPeek said he wants to run the Badge of Silver colt 1 1/8 miles. … Trainer Tom Howard said multiple stakes winner Ivan Fallunovalot is nominated to the $100,000 Hot Springs Stakes for older sprinters March 7, adding he’s “playing it by ear” whether the scintillating two-time winner at the meeting will start in the race. “He’s a happy horse,” Howard said Saturday morning. … Texas Bling moved closer to his 2015 debut by zipping a half-mile in :47.40 Saturday morning for trainer Danele Durham. It was the fastest of eight workouts recorded at the distance.
 
 

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