Saturday, April 09, 2016

Busy Morning for Arkansas Derby Workers

Three scheduled starters for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16 recorded their final workouts for the race over a fast surface Saturday morning at Oaklawn.

Whitmore, in company with stablemate Regulatory, went a half-mile in :48.80 for co-owner/trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs. Moquett opted to work Whitmore just after the track opened, rather than a 15-mintue window reserved for Racing Festival of the South candidates immediately after the break to renovate the racing surface.

“It was the cliché work,” Moquett said. “Perfect. Exactly what we needed.”

Whitmore has finished second in Oaklawn’s two major preps leading up to the Arkansas Derby – $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 15 and $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 19.

Breezing after the break Saturday morning were Southwest winner Suddenbreakingnews and Discreetness, who won the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 18 at Oaklawn in his 3-year-old debut.

Suddenbreakingnews went a half-mile in :48.40 for trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel. Discreetness went 3 furlongs out of the gate in :36.40 for trainer Jinks Fires of Hot Springs.

Discreetness is coming off seventh-place finishes in the Southwest and Rebel.

“I just want to put him on his toes,” Fires said before the work. “He needs to break better.”

In addition to the three definite starters, three horses under consideration for the Arkansas Derby worked after the break Saturday morning.

Dazzling Gem covered a half-mile in :49.40 for trainer Brad Cox, Tisdale went a half-mile in :49.60 for Moquett and Cutacorner went 5 furlongs in 1:01.20 for Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg.

Dazzling Gem won his first two career starts this year at Oaklawn before finishing third in the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) March 26 at Fair Grounds.  He was scheduled to run in the Rebel, but re-routed to the Louisiana Derby because of a foot abscess, Cox said.

The Arkansas Derby will highlight a 12-race closing-day card.

Road Trip

Trainer Kristin Mulhall really wanted to run Cautious Giant in the $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) Sunday at Oaklawn. Just check to the odometer.

Unable to secure a flight for the Southern California-based Cautious Giant, Mulhall decided to ship the old-fashioned way – by van.

“Did I want to do it? “No,” Mulhall said of her first trip to Oaklawn. “It was either that or we didn’t run.”

Following 25 hours and 1,650 miles, Cautious Giant’s journey ended Wednesday night when the gelding arrived in Hot Springs for Sunday’s 6-furlong race. Asked if she was concerned about any “car lag,” Mulhall, unequivocally, said, “No.”

“I think that would be the same as on a plane with FedEx,” Mulhall said. “It’s hard on a horse.”

Mulhall said Los Angeles traffic can make a van ride to the airport even longer. Once on a cargo plane, there’s not always a lot of leg room for a horse.

“It’s kind of a hectic trip for them,” Mulhall said, “so I think going just straight through the way we did it … it was longer, but, big deal.”

Cautious Giant will be making his fifth start for Mulhall, who claimed the 5-year-old Giant’s Causeway gelding for $40,000 Sept. 6 at Del Mar.

He won two allowance at Santa Anita before finishing third in the track’s $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes (G2) Feb. 7 and fourth in the $300,000 San Carlos Stakes (G2) March 12. Mulhall credited co-owner Brendan Bakir (Tachycardia Stable) for picking out the gelding. There was also an important equipment change, and a distance switch.

“He loved him,” Mulhall said Bakir. “We thought putting blinkers on him would help. He looked like he was better going one turn. It just happened to work.”

Stablemate Black Tie 'n Tails, second in a March 31 starter allowance at Santa Anita, accompanied Cautious Giant on the trip and is scheduled to run in Saturday's seventh race at Oaklawn.

“I was trying to find some company for him,” Mulhall said of Cautious Giant.

Apple Blossom Weights

Defending champion Untapable is the scheduled 120-pound starting high weight for Friday’s $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) at Oaklawn. Weights for the 1 1/16-mile race were released Saturday morning.

Untapable finished second in the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 19 at Oaklawn in her 2016 debut. Florent Geroux is scheduled to ride Untapable, the country’s champion 3-year-old filly of 2014, Friday for six-time Oaklawn training champion Steve Asmussen.

Two other scheduled starters – Call Pat and Tara’s Tango – were assigned 119 pounds.

Call Pat, to be ridden by Joe Rocco Jr., won the Azeri for trainer Brad Cox. Rafael Bejarano is scheduled to ride Tara’s Tango, who won the $500,000 Santa Margarita Stakes (G1) March 19 at Santa Anita in her last start for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

Other Apple Blossom probables are: Forever Unbridled (117 pounds), Streamline (115) and Theogony (114). Theogony worked a half-mile in :48.20 Saturday morning at Oaklawn for trainer Mark Casse.

 

Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez is scheduled to ride Forever Unbridled for trainer Dallas Stewart. Chris Landeros is scheduled to ride Streamline for trainer Brian Williamson, with three-time defending Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. tapped for Theogony. Streamline and Theogony finished third and fourth, respectively, in the Azeri.

Post positions for the Apple Blossom will be drawn Tuesday.

Finish Lines

Harbour Island worked a half-mile in :47.80 Saturday morning at Oaklawn for trainer Al Stall. Harbour Island is scheduled to run in Thursday’s $150,000 Carousel Stakes for older filly and mare sprinters at Oaklawn, Stall said. … Financial Modeling worked a half-mile in :47.80 Saturday morning at Oaklawn for trainer Brad Cox in advance of the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 16. … Recount worked a half-mile in :48.80 Saturday morning at Oaklawn for trainer Jimmy DiVito. Recount is entered in Sunday’s $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn. … Big Red Rocket, a candidate for the $150,000 Northern Spur Stakes April 16 at Oaklawn, worked a half-mile in :50.20 Saturday morning at Oaklawn for trainer Tom Howard of Hot Springs. … La Macchina recorded a half-mile bullet Saturday morning at Oaklawn (:47.60) for owner/trainer Otabek Umarov in preparation for the $1.25 million Charles Town Classic (G2) April 23 at Charles Town. La Macchina won the $100,000 Essex Handicap Feb. 13 at Oaklawn.