Hot Springs, Ark. (Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015) – It may not have been the trip they had been hoping for, but trainer Bret Calhoun and jockey Cliff Berry got the result they wanted when Promise Me Silver rallied up the rail late to remain a perfect five for five with her victory by a neck in Thursday’s $100,000 Dixie Belle Stakes at Oaklawn. An estimated crowd of 10,250 was on hand for opening day of Oaklawn’s 2015 live racing season highlighted by the six-furlong stakes for 3-year-old fillies.
Myrna and Robert Luttrell's Promise Me Silver was boxed in and forced to race in fourth position as Super Saks led through an opening quarter in :21 3/5 and :45 3/5 for the first half mile. The eventual winner split horses and wore down the leaders to win in a final time of 1:11 2/5 for six furlongs over a fast track. Sarah Sis, who challenged late, took second over Super Sak, who held on for third.
“She wasn’t exactly where we wanted to be, but she showed a lot of courage coming through like that,” said Berry. “It wasn’t the perfect trip, but she showed how tough she is.”
“I was a little nervous early on,” added Calhoun. “We kind of lost a little positioning, and (jockey) Cliff (Berry) had to wait and sit down there on the rail. He didn’t want to go around. Sometimes the five (Super Saks) wants to lean out a little bit, so we didn’t want to get caught outside of that horse. So, he just waited and we got a spot. He called on her and she finished up good.”
Calhoun said after the race that the $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes Jan. 31 was a “possibility” for Promise Me Silver, who has now earned $214,355. She returned $3.20, $2.60 and $2.20 as the heavy 3-5 favorite.
Lil Super Bear, Timeaday, Strawberry Baby, Joy of the Saints, Toutsie Rules and Empressive Humor rounded out the order of finish. Scadadle and Simply Confection were scratched.
One race later, Arkansas Derby and Preakness Stakes runner-up Ride On Curlin made a successful return to the races, coming from off the pace to win by a nose over Ali’s Birthday in a six furlong allowance optional claiming race. Trainer Billy Gowan had stated before the race that the ultimate goal of the 4-year-old Curlin colt is the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 11.
Live racing resumes at Oaklawn Friday with a 1 p.m. first post. The nine-race program will be highlighted by the $100,000 Fifth Season Stakes for older horses going 1 1/16 miles.