Hot Springs, Ark. (Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015) – Six years ago, trainer Bret Calhoun saddled Silver City to win Oaklawn’s first stakes race of the 2009 meeting in the $50,000 Dixieland for 3-year-olds. Now, Calhoun hopes to win the first stakes race of the 2015 meeting with a daughter of Silver City, the unbeaten Promise Me Silver. The 3-year-old filly is one of 11 entered in Thursday’s $100,000 Dixie Belle at six furlongs.
Probable post time for the Dixie Belle, the eighth of nine races on the opening-day card, is 4:21 p.m. (CST). First post is 1 p.m.
The Dixie Belle was originally scheduled to be run Jan. 9, but Oaklawn canceled its first three scheduled days of racing because of freezing temperatures.
The original Dixie Belle cast returns, with Promise Me Silver, the 122-pound high weight, moving from post 9 to post 6 after the race was redrawn. She will ridden by two-time Oaklawn riding champion Cliff Berry.
“I kind of thought we had the ideal setup the first time because all the speed was inside us,” Calhoun said. “There’s a little speed outside us now, but the draw is fine.”
Promise Me Silver, who has won her four starts by a combined 21 ½ lengths, is the 8-5 program favorite. A three-time stakes winner, the filly is exiting a 5 ½-length score in the $50,000 Letellier Memorial Dec. 20 at Fair Grounds.
Promise Me Silver is from the first crop of the promising Texas-based stallion, who was campaigned by the late Clarence Scharbauer Jr., of Alysheba fame.
“She’s a fast horse,” Calhoun said. “Silver City was a very horse, but she’s learning to rate better.”
Calhoun said he hopes Promise Me Silver lays just off an expected fast pace Thursday, a tactic she unveiled in her last start. “She was able to turn off,” Calhoun said.
Unbeaten Toutsie Rules, the 4-1 third choice in the program, will be making her stakes debut after winning a maiden race at Keeneland and a first-level allowance race at Fair Grounds. The filly originally drew the rail for the Dixie Belle – a place trainer Mike Stidham didn’t want to be – but is scheduled to break from post 7 Thursday under Shaun Bridgmohan.
Stidham said he preferred Toutsie Rules to be farther outside because of her running style. Toutsie Rules has led at every point of call in her two career races (both 6 furlongs), breaking her maiden by two lengths Oct. 17 at Keeneland and holding on by a head in a Nov. 28 allowance/optional claiming event at Fair Grounds.
“She’s fast by nature,” Stidham said. “They’ll be going fast if anybody is in front outside of her.”
Toutsie Rules will carry 114 pounds under allowance conditions.
The field for the $100,000 Dixie Belle, in post position order, with riders and odds: Lil Super Bear, Calvin Borel, 20-1; Timeaday, Emmanuel Esquivel, 15-1; Simply Confection, Jon Court, 15-1; Strawberry Baby, Jareth Loveberry, 12-1; Super Saks, Terry Thompson, 30-1; Promise Me Silver, Cliff Berry, 8-5; Toutie Rules, Shaun Bridgmohan; Scadadle, David Mello, 15-1; Sarah Sis, Julio Felix, 7-2; Empressive Humor, Ricardo Santana Jr., 8-1 and Joy of the Saints, 20-1.