Hot Springs, Ark. (Friday, Jan. 16, 2015) – Trainer Mark Casse said Spring in the Air won’t be racing this spring – unless she performs well in the $100,000 Pippin Stakes for older fillies and mares Saturday afternoon at Oaklawn.
A Grade 1 winner at 2, Spring in the Air has lost 10 of her last 11 starts, and needs a strong performance in the 1 1/16-mile Pippin, Casse said, to continue her racing career, rather than begin a broodmare career.
“Honestly, we’re trying to decide whether to run her another year or retire her,” Casse said. “We kind of thought this was a good spot.”
Spring in the Air hasn’t started since finishing fourth, beaten four lengths, in the $200,000 Treasure Chest Stakes Nov. 22 at Delta Downs in Louisiana.
The Treasure Chest marked only the third start on dirt for Spring in the Air, a 5-year-old daughter of Spring At Last.
Casse said Spring in the Air ran better in the mile race than it might appear on paper, because she fell behind early by more than 12 lengths on a bull-ring style track.
“She did make up some ground and ran well,” Casse said. “She’s trained well over the dirt. I know her record doesn’t look that great, but she’s run against some pretty good horses on the dirt as well. I’d love to get her over $1 million.”
Owned by Casse’s longtime client, John Oxley, Spring in the Air has won 4 of 19 career starts and earned $929,818. She scored her biggest victory in the $400,000 Alcibiades Stakes (G1) in 2012 at Keeneland.
Spring in the Air, the early 3-1 second choice for the Pippin, will be ridden by two-time defending Oaklawn jockey champion Ricardo Santana Jr. and breaks from post 5.
Eight other horses are entered, including 5-2 program favorite Honey’s Ryan for Karl Broberg, the country’s winningest trainer last year. Honey’s Ryan is coming off a 1 ¾-length victory in the $100,000 She’s All In Handicap Dec. 14 at Remington Park. She will break from post 9 under Luis Quinonez and carry equal top weight of 119 pounds.
Broberg also trains She’s All In Handicap runner-up Diva’s Diamond, who is 5-1 in the program.
Probable post time for the Pippin, the eighth of nine races, is 4:38 p.m. (Central).
Two-time defending Pippin champion Don’t Tell Sophia was among 20 nominees to the Pippin. But trainer Phil Sims, citing recent missed training because of winter weather, decided not to start the Grade 1 winner and 2014 Eclipse Awards finalist (champion older female).
The complete field for the $100,000 Pippin Stakes, in post position order, with riders and morning line odds: Courageous Julie, David Mello, 8-1; Mufajaah, Emmanuel Esquivel, 10-1; Diva’s Diamond, Ramon Vazquez, 5-1; Lady Haddassah, Jareth Loveberry, 12-1; Spring in the Air, Ricardo Santana Jr., 3-1; Call Pat, Joe Rocco Jr., 8-1; Haunted Heroine, Cliff Berry, 6-1; Pearl Turn, Jesus Castanon, 15-1 and Honey’s Ryan, Luis Quinonez, 5-2.