Oaklawn News

 Sunday, January 25, 2015

Take Charge Brandi Tops Works for Next Saturday’s Martha Washington Stakes

Two scheduled starters for Saturday’s $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn, including champion Take Charge Brandi, recorded their final workouts for the mile race Sunday morning.

Take Charge Brandi, an Eclipse Award winner as the country’s top 2-year-old filly, worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.60 just after the track opened for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

High Dollar Woman worked 5 furlongs in 1:03.20 for trainer Tony Dutrow later in the morning. From the first crop of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, High Dollar Woman is coming off a front-running three-length entry-level allowance victory Dec. 13 at Parx. She broke her maiden in July at Saratoga.

While the Martha Washington will mark the stakes debut for High Dollar Woman, Take Charge Brandi’s eight-race campaign at age two included seven graded stakes. Take Charge Brandi surged to championship honors with victories in her final three races - $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) Nov. 1, $400,000 Delta Princess (G3) Nov. 22 and the $350,000 Starlet (G1) Dec. 13.

Jon Court is scheduled to ride Take Charge Brandi for the first time in the Martha Washington, the first major local two-turn prep for the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 4.

The Martha Washington closed Friday with 28 nominations, but Oaklawn racing secretary Pat Pope said Sunday morning that he expects a short field because of Take Charge Brandi’s towering presence. he said the only other expected starter at this time is Perfect Fit, who is trained by Bret Calhoun.

“I think we’ll be lucky to get five to run,” Pope said.
Touchdown, Arkansas

The Arkansas Razorbacks scored 56 touchdowns last fall on the football field, but Lewis Mathews said he hopes there’s more to come this winter and spring. Mathews bred and co-owns the lightly raced Touchdown Arkansas, scheduled to make his 3-year-old debut in today’s fourth race, an entry-level allowance sprint for Arkansas-breds.

Mathews, who lives in nearby Bismarck, Ark., named Touchdown Arkansas after the legendary Paul Eells’ signature line as the longtime “Voice of the Razorbacks.” Eells was Arkansas’ radio play-by-play announcer from 1978 until his death in July 2006 in an automobile accident.

“It’s been a long time since anybody heard it, but you still get chills when you hear, ‘Oh My, Touchdown Arkansas.’ ” Mathews said.

Touchdown Arkansas has already scored big once for Mathews, co-owner Frank Fletcher of North Little Rock, Ark., and trainer Tom Howard by winning the $50,000 Razorback Futurity Nov. 8 at Remington Park in Oklahoma City. The Razorback Futurity is restricted to 2-year-olds bred in Arkansas.

In his only other start, Touchdown Arkansas finished 10th against open maiden-allowance runners Oct. 1 at Remington. Touchdown Arkansas is by Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Artie Schiller out of Ms. Officer Rocket, who was campaigned by Fletcher several years ago. Howard also trained Ms. Officer Rocket, adding Fletcher gave the mare to Mathews after her racing career ended. She is boarded at Mathews’ Bismarck farm, where Touchdown Arkansas was born and raised.

“He’s always been a nice horse,” Mathews said. “People said he looked the part when he was young.”

Mathews, who also owns Ivan Fallunovalot, an impressive winner Jan. 22, said he believes Touchdown Arkansas is only the fifth horse he’s bred. “He’s the best so far,” said Mathews, president of F & I Arkansas, a finance and insurance development company for automobile dealers.

Howard said today’s race is a stepping stone toward the $75,000 Rainbow Stakes March 29, a six-furlong race restricted to Arkansas-bred 3-year-old colts and geldings.

“It looks like, knock on wood, with no injuries or setbacks, he could run in races, other than against the breeds,” Howard said. “But we’re an Arkansas-bred and all about Arkansas.”

Especially, touchdowns for Arkansas. Fletcher, a prominent businessman, is an Arkansas graduate and a major supporter of the Razorbacks’ athletic programs.
To Tell The Truth

Arkansas Derby candidate The Truth Or Else breezed a half-mile in :49.60 after the break Sunday morning under Jesus Castanon, the colt’s first workout of 2015. The son of Yes It’s True arrived in Hot Springs in late December, trainer Kenny McPeek said, following a freshening of approximately 30 days.

McPeek said The Truth Or Else will “probably need” two or three more works before making his 2015 debut. McPeek said he would prefer a mile entry-level allowance spot as a prep for the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 14. The Rebel is the final major local prep for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 11.

The Truth Or Else faced some of the country’s top 2-year-olds in New York, finishing third in the $500,000 Champagne Stakes (G1) Oct. 4 at Belmont Park and the $250,000 Nashua Stakes (G2) Nov. 2 at Aqueduct.

“He had a solid campaign, and I think it was just time to give him a little bit of a rest,” McPeek said.

McPeek said he’s pointing his promising 3-year-old filly Pangburn for a Feb. 5 entry-level allowance/optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles. Pangburn, a Congrats filly owned by Arkansas lumberman John Ed Anthony, hasn’t started since finishing second in the $200,000 Pocahontas Stakes (G2) Sept. 6 at Churchill Downs. It was just her second career race.

McPeek said Pangburn was preparing for the $400,000 Alcibiades Stakes (G1) Oct. 3 at Keeneland when she contracted a virus.

“The virus kind of knocked her back and we just decided to let her get a little bigger and stronger,” McPeek said.
“We’ve been real conservative with her up to now.”

McPeek said the “tentative” plan for Pangburn is to use the Feb. 5 race as a steppingstone to the $150,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 7 at Oaklawn.

Finish Lines

Trainer Doug Anderson said Sugar Shock came out of Saturday’s victory in the $100,000 American Beauty Stakes in good order and will be pointed for a two-turn race, likely the $300,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 14 at Oaklawn. Sugar Shock, in her 4-year-old debut, won the six-furlong American Beauty by a half-length under regular rider Channing Hill. Anderson said Sugar Shock will be nominated to the $100,000 Bayakoa Stakes Feb. 15, but it’s unlikely she will start in the 1 1/16-mile race. … Gentlemen’s Bet, unraced since finishing third in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Sprint because of a foot injury, worked a half-mile in :48.60 Sunday morning. It equaled the fastest work recorded at the distance. … Street Strategy, unraced since last March’s $600,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) because of a stifle injury, worked a half-mile in :49 Sunday morning. … Trainer Kenny McPeek said he’s pointing Golden Ticket, who dead-heated for first in the 2012 Travers, and C J’s Awesome, fourth in last year’s Indiana and Pennsylvania derbies, for the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 11. Both horses are now with McPeek’s division at Sam Houston Race Park in Texas.