SUBTLE INDIAN GOES FOR FOURTH STRAIGHT IN COUNT FLEET
Hot Springs, Ark. (Saturday, April 9, 2016) – Mercedes Stables’ Subtle Indian represented Robertino Diodoro’s first career victory at Oaklawn. Sunday afternoon at Oaklawn, he will try to give the high-percentage trainer his biggest career victory in Hot Springs in the $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) for older horses.
Probable post time for the 6-furlong Count Fleet, the ninth of 10 races, is 5:10 p.m. (Central).
Subtle Indian, trying to become the meet’s first four-time winner this year, mirrors what Diodoro has accomplished the last two seasons at Oaklawn. He is 20 for 60 this year and 29 for 93 overall – an eye-catching 31-percent strike rate.
Subtle Indian is 5 for 6 in his Oaklawn career, winning the 2015 $100,000 Gazebo Stakes and $100,000 Hot Springs March 5 in his last start. The 4-year-old Indian Charlie gelding broke from post 1 in both of those front-running victories and drew the rail again Sunday.
“Not overly thrilled about that,” said Diodoro, who had a division at Oaklawn for the first time in 2015. “It’s the hand we’re dealt, and now we’ve got to deal with it. I keep saying the horse is getting better and better. I think he’ll overcome it.”
Ramon Vazquez again has the mount on Subtle Indian, the 2-1 program favorite and 120-pound high weight. Subtle Indian has led at every point of call in his six career victories.
“It’s not like the post is going to change our strategy,” Diodoro said. “I think he’s fast enough to overcome it.”
Completing the nine-horse field from the rail out: W.B. Smudge, Carlos Marquez to ride, 116 pounds; Cinco Charlie, Ricardo Santana Jr., 118; Alsvid, Channing Hill, 118; Bayerd, Walter De La Cruz, 114; Cautious Giant, Corey Nakatani, 116; Gentlemen’s Bet, Didiel Osorio, 116; Recount, Alex Canchari, 114; and Speightsong, Martin Garcia, 114.
Cinco Charlie, the early 3-1 second choice, is trying to give trainer Steve Asmussen and Santana their third Count Fleet victory in four years. He finished sixth behind Subtle Indian and W.B. Smudge in a Jan. 15 allowance race at Oaklawn, but rebounded with a front-running victory in the $60,000 Duncan F. Kenner Stakes Feb. 20 at Fair Grounds in his last start.
“It’s a good spot and good purse,” Asmussen said.
The 7-2 third choice in the program is Cautious Giant, who chased some of the top sprinters this winter in Southern California, finishing fourth in the $300,000 San Carlos Stakes (G2) March 12 at Santa Anita in his last start. After being claimed for $40,000 last fall at Del Mar, Cautious Giant came from off the pace to win two allowance races at Santa Anita. The gelding had the lead in the stretch of his last two starts, only to be beaten by Kobe’s Back.
“There’s a lot of speed in there,” trainer Kristin Mulhall said of the Count Fleet. “He’s the kind of horse, when he gets the lead he pulls himself up. His first two races that he won, he had a ton of trouble and got up. In his next couple of races, he was against tough horses, but they were short fields with no speed.”
Alsvid is the defending Count Fleet champion and has finished first, second or third in all 13 career Oaklawn starts. But the gelding has lost nine consecutive races for Chris Hartman, Oaklawn’s 2015 training champion.
W.B. Smudge is a two-time allowance winner at the meeting for trainer Matt Kordenbrock.