Oaklawn News

Friday, April 01, 2016


Photos Attached: Credit Coady Photography


Suddenbreakingnews Works for Arkansas Derby


Multiple stakes winner Suddenbreakingnews worked a half-mile in :48.80 on a cloudy Friday morning at Oaklawn in preparation for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16. Under regular rider Luis Quinonez, the Mineshaft gelding breezed shortly after the break to renovate the racing surface. Clockers caught Suddenbreakingnews in splits of :12.40 and :25.40 before galloping out 5 furlongs in 1:00.80.

Temperatures were in the mid-50s when Suddenbreakingnews breezed over a fast track.

Trained by Donnie K. Von Hemel, Suddenbreakingnews began his 3-year-old campaign with a last-to-first victory in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 15 at Oaklawn. In his last start, he finished a troubled fifth in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 19, the final major local prep for the Arkansas Derby.

Friday’s work was the first for Suddenbreakingnews since the Rebel.


Talk Derby to Me


Gray Sky will make his next start in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16 at Oaklawn, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Friday morning. Gray Sky, in his last start, finished sixth at odds of 37-1 in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 19 at Oaklawn.

Although he was beaten six lengths by Cupid, Lukas said he was encouraged by Gray Sky’s performance in the 1 1/16-mile Rebel, the final major local prep for the Arkansas Derby. He ranged up toward the leaders with a four-wide move on the second turn before flattening out in the stretch under Florent Geroux.

“I’ve been kind of taking it a little easy on him because he’s a little bit immature,” Lukas said of Gray Sky. “I think I left him short. I don’t think I had the bottom in him to win that race. He rolled up there pretty damn nice.”

Lukas said he has yet to secure a rider for Gray Sky, who recorded a half-mile bullet work (:47.40) Monday morning at Oaklawn.

A $700,000 yearling purchase for Robert Baker and William Mack, Gray Sky also ran fifth in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 18 at Oaklawn in his 3-year-old debut.

Lukas said he would like to run Z Royal, unplaced in the Rebel, in the $150,000 Northern Spur Stakes April 16 at Oaklawn, but will talk to owner Ahmed Zayat before committing to the mile race.


Upstart Update


Trainer Rick Violette said Thursday afternoon that he plans to send multiple stakes winner and millionaire Upstart back to Oaklawn for the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 16, “as long as things stay well” with the 4-year-old ridgling.

Upstart, Violette’s first starter in Hot Springs, won the $350,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) March 19, the final major local prep for the Oaklawn Handicap. He has been based this winter and early spring in south Florida.

Also pointing for the Oaklawn Handicap are Melatonin and Point Piper, first and fifth, respectively, in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap (G1) March 12 at Santa Anita; Gulfstream Park Handicap winner Blofeld; Financial Modeling, winner of the $100,000 Queens County Stakes Dec. 19 at Aqueduct; and Razorback runner-up Domain’s Rap, a three-time winner at the meeting.


Making Plans


Streamline continues to point for the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 15 at Oaklawn, trainer Brian Williamson said Friday morning.

Streamline has been one of the top older females at this year’s Oaklawn meeting, winning the $100,000 Pippin Stakes Jan. 17, running second in the $100,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) Feb. 14 and third in the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 19.

Streamline was beaten three-quarters of a length in the Azeri, finishing behind multiple graded stakes winner Call Pat and champion Untapable.

“She’s doing good,” Williamson said. “We might as well take a shot at the next big one.”

Also pointing for the Apple Blossom are Call Pat, defending champion Untapable and Tara’s Tango, winner of the $500,000 Santa Margarita Stakes (G1) March 19 at Santa Anita in her last start.


Ricardo’s Rides


Runaway leader Ricardo Santana Jr. had four victories Thursday as he nears his fourth consecutive Oaklawn riding championship. He currently tops the standings with 65 victories, 35 more than runner-up Ramon Vazquez.

Santana won the second race aboard Leflore County ($7.60) for trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs, fifth race aboard Princess Freebie ($9.60) for six-time Oaklawn training champion Steve Asmussen, sixth race aboard Rules of War ($7.20) for trainer Robertino Diodoro and the ninth race aboard Ivy Bell ($5.80), also trained by Asmussen.

Santana, 23, is approaching single-season personal Oaklawn bests for victories and purse earnings. Santana rode 70 winners in 2013, and his mounts earned $2,552,303 in 2014.

According to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization, Santana has $2,478,427 in purse earnings this year at Oaklawn. Santana has least one victory 27 of the last 28 racing days at Oaklawn.

Both Santana and Vazquez, Oaklawn’s second-leading rider last year, are represented by Ruben Munoz.


Finish Lines

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Super Saks is pointing for the $150,000 Carousel Stakes April 14 at Oaklawn. Super Saks had been targeting the $100,000 Giant’s Causeway Stakes April 16 at Keeneland before winning a second-level allowance/optional claiming sprint Saturday at Oaklawn. … Durango is possible for the $150,000 Instant Racing Stakes April 16 at Oaklawn, trainer Randy Morse said. Earlier in the meeting, Durango ran second in the $100,000 Dixie Belle Stakes Jan. 15 and fourth in the $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes before winning a March 25 allowance race. … Synchrony is under consideration for the $150,000 Lexington Stakes (G3) April 16 at Keeneland, trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel said. Synchrony hasn’t started since finishing sixth in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 15 at Oaklawn. … Cox said Twirling Cinnamon is under consideration for the $150,000 Bachelor Stakes April 15 at Oaklawn. … Speightsong, among a handful of recent arrivals for trainer Grant Forster, worked a bullet half-mile work (:47.20) after the renovation break Friday morning at Oaklawn. A Feb. 6 allowance/optional claiming winner at Oaklawn, Speightsong finished second in the $50,000 Colonel Power Stakes March 19 at Fair Grounds in his last start. …Pearl Turn, Will VanMeters first career winner, was bred last week to Pioneerof the Nile “in a last-minute switch,” the trainer said. Pearl Turn was to be sent to American Pharoah, but VanMeter said the 2015 Triple Crown winner was “booked solid” the day Pearl Turn was in heat and scheduled to be bred to him. Pioneerof the Nile is the sire of American Pharoah, who won the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) and $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) last year at Oaklawn. Pearl Turn gave VanMeter his first career training victory at the 2014 Oaklawn meeting and finished eighth in her final career start, the $100,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) Feb. 14 at Oaklawn.