Saturday, April 02, 2016

Moquett’s Stars Hit the Track in Preparation for Festival Week

Whitmore moved closer to his scheduled start in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16 at Oaklawn by working in company just after the track opened on a sunny Saturday morning for co-owner/trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs.

As he normally does, Whitmore breezed inside a stablemate – in this case 4-year-old multiple stakes winner Far Right – with Greta Kuntzweiler aboard. He covered a half-mile in :48.60 over a fast surface and galloped out strongly, according to Moquett.

Far Right, a candidate for the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 16 at Oaklawn, was credited with a half-mile in :49.40. Both horses broke off near the 5-furlong marker and worked to the regular finish line.

“We always have to start with him at the five-eighths to get him rolling,” Moquett said of Whitmore. “He’s the kind, he likes to follow horses. He never starts until somebody else jumps in front.”

Moquett called Whitmore’s final major work for the Arkansas Derby “perfect” and was particularly impressed by his gallop-out times – 5 furlongs in 1:00.60 and 6 furlongs in 1:14.80.

“That will be good because the gallop out was ridiculous,” Moquett said. “All I’ll do now is something easier than this.”

After winning an allowance/optional claiming sprint in his 3-year-old debut, Whitmore finished second in the final two major local preps leading up to the Arkansas Derby. He was second to Suddenbreakingnews in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 15 and second to Cupid in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 19.

Trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel said Suddenbreakingnews came out of Friday’s half-mile work at Oaklawn in good shape physically in preparation for his scheduled start in the Arkansas Derby. Suddenbreakingnews finished fifth in the Rebel.

Trainer Jinks Fires of Hot Springs said he may work Discreetness Sunday morning at Oaklawn in advance of his scheduled start in the Arkansas Derby. Discreetness won the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 18 at Oaklawn before finishing seventh in the Southwest and Rebel.

Dazzling Gem Update

Brad Cox said he’ll probably work Dazzling Gem next Saturday at Oaklawn, which would mark the lightly raced colt’s first breeze since finishing third in the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) March 26 at Fair Grounds.

Cox said Dazzling Gem is under consideration for five stakes races, including the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16 at Oaklawn, $150,000 Lexington Stakes (G3) April 16 at Keeneland and May 7 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

Cox said Dazzling Gem, owned by prominent Arkansas automobile dealer Steve Landers, returned to the track Wednesday at Oaklawn and is fine physically.

Cox said he’ll have a “little bit better idea where we’re going” after next Saturday’s work.

“We’ll probably, say, Sunday, Monday, kind of have an idea if we’ll look at the Arkansas Derby or the Lexington or possibly go straight to the Kentucky Derby,” Cox said.

Dazzling Gem won his first two career starts at Oaklawn, including a Feb. 13 entry-level allowance, before running third in the Louisiana Derby.

Bite of the Apple

Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez will ride multiple graded stakes winner Forever Unbridled in the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 15 at Oaklawn, trainer Dallas Stewart said Friday afternoon.

A 4-year-old daughter of Unbridled’s Song, Forever Unbridled races for her breeder, Charles Fipke, and won the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic Stakes (G3) Jan. 30 at Sam Houston Race Park in her last start.

Velazquez won last year’s Apple Blossom aboard champion Untapable, who is also pointing for the 1 1/16-mile race.

Untapable worked 5 furlongs in company over a fast track Saturday morning at Oaklawn for trainer Steve Asmussen. She and Bold Conquest, fifth in last year’s $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) were both credited with 1:01.20.

The Tapit mare began her 2016 campaign with a runner-up finish to Call Pat in the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 19, the final major local prep for the Apple Blossom.

Call Pat worked a half-mile in :48.20 over a fast track Friday morning at Oaklawn for trainer Brad Cox.

“Breezed great,” Cox said. “Went really well. She’s really on track for the Apple Blossom.”

Plans for ‘Ivan’

Multiple stakes winner Ivan Fallunovalot will be turned out for approximately a month at owner Lewis Mathews’ farm south of Hot Springs to recover from a quarter-crack, trainer Tom Howard said Saturday morning, an injury that will keep the multiple stakes winner from running in the $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 10 at Oaklawn. The gelding finished second in last year’s Count Fleet.

“We gave it a shot, but where the crack is at, it’s in a difficult spot,” Howard. “It’s on the inside and back.”

The injury to Ivan Fallunovalot’s left front foot was detected in late February and kept the gelding out of the $100,000 Hot Springs Stakes March 5 at Oaklawn.

Howard said he hoped Ivan Fallunovalot could still make the Count Fleet, but the foot was tender following a half-mile work March 20 at Oaklawn. The gelding wasn’t nominated to the 6-furlong Count Fleet, Howard said, adding the hope is the gelding will be ready for the Remington Park meeting that begins in August.

Ivan Fallunovalot won the $100,000 King Cotton Stakes Jan. 30 at Oaklawn in his 2016 debut, increasing his career earnings to $536,910.

On behalf of Mathews, Howard claimed Ivan Fallunovalot for $25,000 at the 2014 Oaklawn meeting.

Turf Monster?

Arkansas-bred standout Weast Hill is pointing for the $150,000 Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G3) May 6 at Churchill Downs, trainer Brad Cox said Saturday morning.

Weast Hill, in his two-turn debut, won the $100,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes Friday at Oaklawn to remain perfect in five career starts in Hot Springs.

The 5-furlong Turf Sprint will mark the grass debut for Weast Hill, a 4-year-old Rockport Harbor gelding who races for owner/breeder Starsky Weast of Star City, Ark.

“The timing is great,” Cox said. “It’s five weeks. We really do think he’ll love the grass. This is not something we just came up with. When we had this horse early in his 2-year-old year, we always said this could be a grass horse.”

Weast Hill has a 6-1-0 record from eight lifetime starts and earnings of $279,710. He is a three-time stakes winner at Oaklawn against state-breds, and has also won in open company.

Cox said Weast Hill’s dam, Copperelle, is in foal to champion Midshipman and due in the next two weeks.

Finish Lines

Trainer Brad Cox said unbeaten Cash Back is pointing for the $150,000 Instant Racing Stakes for 3-year-old fillies April 16 at Oaklawn. … La Macchina worked a half-mile in :48 Saturday morning at Oaklawn for owner/trainer Otabek Umarov. La Macchina, who won the $100,000 Essex Handicap Feb. 13 at Oaklawn, is pointing for the $1.25 million Charles Town Classic (G2) April 23 at Charles Town, Umarov said. La Macchina finished sixth in the $350,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) March 19, the final major local prep for the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 16. “The Oaklawn Handicap is coming up tough,” Umarov said after training hours Saturday morning. Umarov said he also plans to run Looks to Spare and Incremental, ninth and 10th, respectively, in the Razorback in the Charles Town Classic./* 

  

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