Friday, February 27, 2015

Street Strategy Could Be Morse’s Plan B in Oaklawn Handicap

Randy Morse had hoped to run Moonshine Mullin in the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 11, but the trainer said Friday morning that he isn’t sure if the Grade 1 winner will even start at the meeting because of weather-related training setbacks. Fortunately, Morse has a deep bench.

Morse is scheduled to saddle the promising Street Strategy in Saturday’s seventh race at Oaklawn, a second-level allowance/optional claimer for older horses at 1 1/16 miles. The trainer said Street Strategy, with another sharp effort Saturday, will be pointed for the Oaklawn Handicap.

“That’s the plan,” Morse said.

Street Strategy earned a career-high 90 Beyer Speed Figure with a 4 ¼-length entry-level allowance score Jan. 30 under Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel, who has ridden the 4-year-old son of Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense in all four career starts.

The mile race marked Street Strategy’s first start since finishing sixth in last March’s $600,000 Rebel Stakes (G2), when Morse said the colt tore the main supporting ligament in his stifle, likely at the start of the 1 1/16-mile race. He is the 8-5 program favorite Saturday.

“He’s doing awfully well,” Morse said. “He’s had two really good works since he ran.”

As for Moonshine Mullin, the 7-year-old hasn’t started since winning the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) June 14 at Churchill Downs after Morse said a “tiny” ligament tear was discovered in an ankle approximately seven weeks later.

Morse wanted to launch Moonshine Mullin’s 2015 campaign in the $250,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) March 14, but said winter weather has continued to play havoc with the horse’s training schedule.
 
Duck Dynasty

Trainer Al Cates of Hot Springs won last year’s $75,000 Arkansas Breeders’ (open division) with Mallard’s Bro. He is scheduled to try and bag another stakes victory for Arkansas-breds when Mallard’s Bro runs in Saturday’s $75,000 Nodouble Breeders’ at six furlongs.

Mallard’s Bro, a 5-year-old gelding, is a homebred for Five Star Racing Stable, which is headed by Rick Christian of nearby Benton, Ark. Cates said Christian named Mallard’s Bro because of the owner’s affinity for duck hunting. It doesn’t stop there.

Another Saline County partner in the gelding, John Perry, blows a duck call when watching races near the finish line, Cates said, specifically when Mallard’s Bro is in contention at the top of the stretch.

“He doesn’t know how to blow it,” Cates said Thursday morning. “He just blows it. You can hear it on some of the replays. It’s really kind of funny, but I’m not going to … whatever works.”

Mallard’s Bro, who has a 4-7-6 record from 23 lifetime starts and earnings of $176,689, won for the first time since last March’s Arkansas Breeders’ with a length decision over state-bred allowance company Feb. 15 at        1 1/16 miles. Cates said Saturday’s race is not ideal because Mallard’s Bro is more effective around two turns, adding it’s a prep for the $75,000 Arkansas Breeders’ March 27, also at 1 1/16 miles.

Cates and Five Star also won the inaugural Arkansas Breeders’ in 2011 with The Mallard Man, a half-brother to Mallard’s Bro. Cates said The Mallard Man, a 9-year-old gelding, was retired following a Jan. 13 workout at Oaklawn.

The Mallard Man had a 5-14-9 record from 51 lifetime starts and earnings of $187,561.

“He retired sound,” Cates said. “But it just seemed like in his training that his heart just wasn’t in it anymore.”

Cates said The Mallard Man is now at a Sheridan, Ark., farm of another client, Eugenia Thompson, and “several people” are interested in giving the gelding a “good home.”

The Mallard Man and Mallard’s Bro are both out of Y Worry B Happy.
 
Finish Lines

Oaklawn, in its 26th day of racing, surpassed $3 million in claims at the meet Thursday. … Two-time defending Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. snapped an 0 for 33 streak when he won Thursday’s second race on Lawyer Daggett. Santana, who was blanked in four race days last week, still tops the standings with 28 victories after two winners Thursday … Grade 1 winner The Big Beast is scheduled to make his 4-year-old debut in Sunday’s eighth race, a third-level allowance sprint for older horses. Trainer Tony Dutrow is using the race as a prep for the $300,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 9. Multiple stakes winners Brewing and Alsvid are also entered. … Trainer Al Cates said multiple stakes winner Our Quista “will definitely” make her next start at Oaklawn, with the $300,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 14 a possibility, along with a conditioned allowance race. …Dawn at Oaklawn, Oaklawn’s Saturday morning program, has been cancelled because of the extreme cold.


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