Thursday, January 22, 2015

Far Right Ready to Get Back to Work

Trainer Ron Moquett said Far Right will return to the track Friday morning at Oaklawn in preparation for his next start, either the $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 16 or the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 14.

Far Right earned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 82 for his 1 ¾-length victory over Bayerd in Monday’s $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes at a mile.

Moquett said Thursday morning that he’s “real happy” with how Far Right came out of the Smarty Jones, but wants to monitor his progress before committing to his next start.

“I’ll let the horse tell me when he wants to run,” Moquett said. “I want to get to the big race, but I want to get there with a fresh, healthy, happy horse.”

The Rebel is the final major local prep for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 11. The Arkansas Derby falls three weeks before the Kentucky Derby.  Far Right was coming off a troubled third-place finish in the $1 million Delta Jackpot Stakes (G3) Nov. 22 at Delta Downs.

In the Smarty Jones, Far Right received a ground-saving ride from Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who was aboard the Notional colt for the first time.

“I thought he should have won the last one,” Moquett said, referring to the Delta Jackpot. “I was confident that if he got a good trip, he would give a good account of himself. My biggest concern was the race might be too short.”

Moquett said Smith will again have the mount for Far Right’s next start, whether it’s the Southwest or Rebel. Both races are 1 1/16 miles.
 
Mr. Z to the Southwest

Mr. Z, who finished an eventful third in Monday’s $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes, will make his next start in the $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 16, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Thursday morning.

Mr. Z opened a clear lead turning for home in the 1-mile Smarty Jones, but veered out suddenly to the middle of the track after being hit left-handed by Jon Court. After straightening up, Mr. Z ran on to finish behind Far Right and Bayerd, beaten 2 ¼ lengths as the even-money favorite.

“He’s fine,” Lukas said. “If Jon would have not hit him, I think, and just hand rode him, he might have won by five or six (lengths). He knifed him left-handed. He won’t take that.”

Lukas said he prefers Court ride the colt in the Southwest, but added owner Ahmed Zayat will have input on the decision.

“I would guess that would be my vote,” Lukas said of Court. “He knows you can’t do certain things. He was absolutely going to waltz home.”
 
Flower in Bloom

Louies Flower, who scored his biggest career victory in the $250,000 Springboard Mile in December 2013 at Remington Park, returned to the work tab Thursday morning over a fast-rated surface.
 
The 4-year-old son of Flower Alley covered 3 furlongs in :39.60 for trainer Bret Calhoun, who plans to start the colt at the meeting.

Louies Flower hasn’t started since finishing second in a Dec. 13 allowance race at Remington, the colt’s ninth consecutive loss since winning the Springboard Mile at odds of 23-1.

“He started bleeding on me,” Calhoun said. “He turned into a bad bleeder, and it was a shame. But we finally got him lined out with time and nursing him along. Hopefully, we’ll find something here for him.”

Calhoun said Louies Flower arrived at Oaklawn earlier this month after a brief freshening.
 
She’s a Beauty

Sugar Shock is scheduled to make her 4-year-old debut in Saturday’s $100,000 American Beauty Stakes for older filly and mare sprinters.

Co-owned and trained by Doug Anderson, Sugar Shock notched her biggest career victory to date in the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) last April at Oaklawn.

Sugar Shock, scheduled to break from post 8 under regular rider Channing Hill, is among 13 horses entered in the 6-furlong American Beauty. She is the 3-1 program favorite.

If the field remains intact, it will equal the largest in the race’s 31-year history. The American Beauty had 13 starters in 1986 and 1988.

Racing begins Saturday at 1 p.m. (Central). Probable post time for the American Beauty, the eighth of nine races, is 4:38 p.m. (Central).
 
Finish Lines

Nominations to the $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes for 3-year-old fillies Jan. 31 close Friday. Take Charge Brandi, the champion 2-year-old filly, is scheduled to make her 2015 debut in the mile race. … Jon Court will ride Take Charge Brandi in the Martha Washington, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Thursday morning, because of commitments Victor Espinoza has in Southern California. Lukas said Espinoza, who rode Take Charge Brandi to victories in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and Starlet Stakes (G1), also will not be available for the filly’s scheduled start in the $150,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 7 at Oaklawn. Lukas said, at this point, Court would also ride Take Charge Brandi in the Honeybee. “We don’t want to go changing jockeys,” Lukas said. … Gold Medal Dancer, runner-up in the 2013 Remington Park Oaks and Zia Park Oaks, worked a half-mile in :49 Thursday morning for trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel. ... The surface was rated fast for workouts Thursday, although light rain fell throughout the morning.

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