Oaklawn Runners Look to Dominate Iowa Festival of Racing

Several Oaklawn stakes winners are scheduled to run during Prairie Meadows’ biggest week of racing, including Carve in the meet’s biggest event, Saturday’s $300,000 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (G3) for older horses.

Carve, the defending Cornhusker champion, can surpass $1 million in career earnings by finishing first or second in the 1 1/8-mile race. He already has bankrolled $942,915 for owner Mike Langford of Jonesboro, Ark., who claimed the 5-year-old First Samurai gelding for $30,000 out of his career debut victory at the 2013 Oaklawn meeting. Trained by Brad Cox, Carve was a powerful winner of the $100,000 Fifth Season Stakes Jan. 16 at Oaklawn.

The Cornhusker will be Carve’s third opportunity to secure $1 million in career earnings. He failed to reach the milestone after finishing second to Race Day in the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 11 and second, as the 4-5 favorite, to Majestic City in his last start, the $200,000 Lone Star Park Handicap (G3) May 25 at Lone Star.

Carve was nominated to the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) June 13 at Churchill Downs, but Cox said the gelding is a better fit for the Cornhusker because of the timing of the race and having a victory over the track.

“He ran his race at Lone Star,” Cox said. “He was set up to run a big race. The other horse had an inside trip on a sealed track. We gave him 5 pounds, and the longer you go the more weight comes into play.”

Cox tapped Shaun Bridgmohan to ride Carve in the Cornhusker. Bridgmohan, Oaklawn’s third-leading rider this year, replaces Carve’s regular pilot, Jesus Castanon, who suffered a fractured fibula and tailbone in a June 12 spill at Churchill Downs.

Carve, the 7-2 program favorite, is scheduled to break from post 2 and carry top weight of 119 pounds. The projected 11-horse field features two other Oaklawn stakes winners – Golden Lad (117) and Tapiture (116).
Golden Lad, the early 9-2 third choice, won the $200,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) in 2014 and the $100,000 Essex Handicap Feb. 14.

Tapiture, the 4-1 second choice in the program, won last year’s $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) under three-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr., who has the mount Saturday. He is winless in three starts this year, finishing fifth in the $250,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) March 14 at Oaklawn, third in the Oaklawn Handicap and third in the Lone Star Park Handicap.

After winning the Essex, Golden Lad ran fourth in the Oaklawn Handicap and most recently won the $200,000 Mountainview Handicap May 30 at Penn National.

Carve skipped the Essex after the Fifth Season and finished fourth behind Race Day in the Razorback.

Another Oaklawn-raced horse entered in the Cornhusker is Ecleto Red, a two-time winner in starter-allowance company at this year’s meeting for trainer Lynn Chleborad.

Probable post time for the Cornhusker is 9:25 p.m. (Central).

The Iowa Festival of Racing begins Friday with the $100,000 Iowa Distaff Stakes, $125,000 Iowa Sprint Handicap and the $100,000 Saylorville Stakes.

In addition to the Cornhusker, Saturday’s card includes the $200,000 Iowa Oaks (G3) and the $250,000 Iowa Derby (G3).

Oaklawn racing secretary Pat Pope holds the same position at Prairie Meadows.
 
Iowa Derby

Several horses who went through Oaklawn’s four-race series of Kentucky Derby preps are entered in Saturday’s $250,000 Iowa Derby (G3) at Prairie Meadows.

Hillbilly Royalty, fifth in the $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 22, is the 7-2 program favorite for the 1 1/16-mile Iowa Derby. He ran second in Oaklawn’s $100,000 Northern Spur Stakes April 11 before scoring his first career stakes victory in the $75,000 Prairie Mile May 30 at Prairie Meadows. The Prairie Mile is Prairie Meadows’ major prep for the Iowa Derby.

Paid Admission and Allied Air Raid, second and third, respectively, in the Prairie Mile are also entered in the Iowa Derby. Paid Admission finished a distant fifth behind eventual Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 14 at Oaklawn. Allied Air Raid won two races at Oaklawn, including an April 8 entry-level allowance/optional claimer in his two-turn debut, before being beaten 4 ½ lengths by Hillbilly Royalty in the Prairie Mile.

“It’s hard to say, but he may have been a shade short,” said Brad Cox, who trains Allied Air Raid. “Back in four weeks, the timing is great. I think we’ll make a little better showing this time.”

Phenomenal Phoenix, a former stablemate of Hillbilly Royalty, ran ninth in the Southwest before winning an entry-level allowance race March 26 at Oaklawn. The Iowa Derby will be Phenomenal Phoenix’s second start for trainer Ron Moquett since being privately purchased following a third-place finish in the $400,000 Illinois Derby (G3) April 18 at Hawthorne. Hillbilly Royalty and Phenomenal Phoenix were with trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel during the Oaklawn meeting.

Private Prospect enters the Iowa Derby on a seven-race losing streak, a skid that includes a fourth in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 19 at Oaklawn and a seventh in the Southwest.

Probable post time for the Iowa Derby is 8:52 p.m. (Central).
 
Iowa Oaks

Sarah Sis is the 7-2 program favorite for Saturday’s $200,000 Iowa Oaks (G3) at Prairie Meadows. Trained by Ingrid Mason, Sarah Sis won the $150,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 7 at Oaklawn and the $75,000 Panthers Stakes May 30 at Prairie Meadows.

The Panthers is the major local prep for the Iowa Oaks.

Regular rider Julio Felix is named on Sarah Sis, who is scheduled to break from post 2 under top weight of 121 pounds.

Also entered in the Iowa Oaks are Pangburn and Panthers runner-up Sweet Opportunity, fourth and ninth, respectively, in the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 4 at Oaklawn.

Sarah Sis ran fifth in the Fantasy.

Magnolia Steel enters the Iowa Oaks off a third-place finish in the Panthers for two-time Oaklawn leading owner Danny Caldwell. The filly won a March 25 starter-allowance race at Oaklawn after being claimed for $30,000 Feb. 6.

Probable post time for the 1 1/16-mile Iowa Oaks is 8:17 p.m. (Central).
 
Finish Lines

Include Betty, winner of the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 4 at Oaklawn, is entered in Saturday’s $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park. Embellish the Lace, scratched from a Jan. 17 allowance race at Oaklawn (ankle), and Chide, a March 18 career debut winner at Oaklawn, are also entered in the 1 1/16-mile Mother Goose, one of the country's most prestigious races for 3-year-old fillies. … Sugar Shock, winner of the 2014 Fantasy, is entered in Friday’s $100,000 Saylorville Stakes at Prairie Meadows. Electric Temptress (three) and Heykittykittykitty (two), who combined for five victories at this year’s Oaklawn meeting, are also entered in the 6-furlong race, along with Oaklawn-raced Yucca, Ghost Locket, Hollywood Knockout, Haveyougoneaway and Dancin’ Lil. … Flashy American, runner-up in the $100,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) Feb. 15 at Oaklawn, is the 5-2 program favorite for Friday’s $100,000 Iowa Distaff Stakes at Prairie Meadows. Other Oaklawn-raced horses entered are Annuity, Pretty Fancy, More Than Even and Diva’s Diamond. … Oaklawn-raced Bobcat Jim, Bruvver Max, Den’s Legacy and Z Rockstar are entered in Friday’s $125,000 Iowa Sprint Handicap at Prairie Meadows. … Frac Daddy, runner-up in the 2013 Arkansas Derby, is the 5-2 program favorite for the $200,000 Firecracker Stakes (G2) Saturday at Churchill Downs.


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