Dutrow Charts Course for Grade 1 Winners

Trainer Tony Dutrow has started to formulate plans for several of his top horses at Oaklawn Park, including Grade 1 winner The Big Beast. Dutrow, based this winter in Arkansas, said the major spring objective for The Big Beast is the $300,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 9 at Oaklawn.

Owned by Dutrow’s major client, Alex and JoAnn Lieblong of Conway, Ark., The Big Beast hasn’t started since winning the $500,000 King’s Bishop Stakes (G1) Aug. 23 at Saratoga. The Big Beast subsequently underwent surgery to remove a tiny bone chip from an ankle and resumed training last fall.

The 4-year-old son of Yes It’s True returned to the work tab Jan. 7 at Oaklawn, posting a 3-furlong bullet (:36.40). Dutrow said he plans to work The Big Beast a half-mile later this week and have one yet-to-be deter-mined prep for the 6-furlong Count Fleet.

“He’s filled out,” Dutrow said. “He’s a big horse, but all athlete. Nothing bulky about him.”

Dutrow said Arkansas Derby candidate I Spent It is “doing fantastic,” but isn’t close to a comeback race.

A Grade 2 winner last summer, I Spent It had a small bone chip removed from a knee, Dutrow said, following a sixth-place finish in the $500,000 Champagne Stakes (G1) Oct. 4 at Belmont Park.

I Spent It was the first winner sired by 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver.

Two 3-year-old daughters of Super Saver, Embellish The Lace and High Dollar Woman, are candidates for the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 4.

Dutrow said he hopes to run Embellish The Lace in an entry-level allowance race Saturday. The filly, who broke her maiden Dec. 13 at Parx, worked a half-mile in :49.60 Tuesday.

High Dollar Woman, an entry-level allowance winner Dec. 13 at Parx, is pointing for the $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes Jan. 31 at Oaklawn, Dutrow said.

Dutrow also has a promising 3-year-old Bernardini colt, Tekton, for Arkansas lumberman John Ed Anthony. Tekton, who broke his maiden Dec. 19 at Laurel, worked 5 furlongs in 1:02.20 Tuesday.

Dutrow, who last had a division at Oaklawn in 2011, has 15 horses now in Hot Springs and most are 3-year-olds.

“We love it here,” Dutrow said. “We’ve got a great barn. Our horses are doing super. We love the town. The people treat us fantastic. Where do I stop?”
 
Santana, Santana

No jockey has won three consecutive riding championships at Oaklawn since the dominating days of Hall of Famer Pat Day, who won 12 consecutive titles (1983-1994).

Two decades later, Ricardo Santana Jr., 22, is positioned for a three-peat.

“Really, that’s cool,” Santana’s agent, Ruben Munoz, said. “That’s a good thing. I just hope that my outfits’ horses run. That’s what it all comes down to. Nothing else matters. If my outfits’ horses run, we’re in good shape. If they don’t – it’s horse racing, not jockey racing.”

Santana rode 70 winners at the 2013 meeting and 59 last year.

Clearly, his biggest supporter has been three-time defending Oaklawn training champion Steve Asmussen, who has represented 51.1 percent of the jockey’s victories (66 of 129) at the last two meetings.

In addition to Asmussen, Munoz said Santana will ride for trainers like Ron Moquett, a longtime supporter, Kellyn Gorder, Al Stall, Wayne Catalano and Kenny Smith.

Munoz also represents Ramon Vazquez, leading rider at the recently concluded Remington Park meeting and Oaklawn’s third-leading rider last year with 32 victories. Vazquez’s major client is Danny Caldwell, leading owner at the 2014 Oaklawn, Remington and Prairie Meadows meetings.

“I can’t ask to be in a better position,” Munoz said.

After the now-retired Day stopped riding regularly at Oaklawn following the 1995 season – when his streak was stopped by Calvin Borel – Robby Albarado (1996-1997), Tim Doocy (1998-1999), Terry Thompson (2009-2010) and Cliff Berry (2011-2012) all failed in their attempts to win three consecutive riding titles in Hot Springs.
 
Finish Lines

Trainer Doug Anderson said multiple stakes winner Sugar Shock will make her 2014 debut in the $100,000 American Beauty Stakes at 6 furlongs Jan. 24 at Oaklawn. Sugar Shock was also under consideration for two races at 1 1/16 miles - Saturday’s $100,000 Pippin Stakes at Oaklawn and the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic Jan. 24 at Sam Houston Race Park. Anderson said he chose a sprint for Sugar Shock’s 2015 debut, in part, because she lost several days of training recently to winter weather. Unraced since late June, Sugar Shock scored her biggest career victory in last year’s $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn. … Gentlemen’s Bet, unraced since finishing third in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (foot injury), worked a half-mile in :52 before the break to renovate the surface Tuesday morning. Trainer Ron Moquett said he’s optimistic that the 6-year-old will run at the meeting. … Training was delayed three hours Tuesday because of freezing temperatures.

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