Thursday, August 11, 2016

Cherry Wine Switches to Turf in Saturday’s Secretariat

Oaklawn’s Rebel Stakes has already yielded winners of this year’s Arkansas Derby, Belmont Stakes, Indiana Derby and West Virginia Derby. Cherry Wine can enhance the Rebel’s resume with a victory in the $450,000 Secretariat Stakes (G1), a 1 ¼-mile turf race for 3-year-olds, Saturday at Arlington Park.

Trained by Dale Romans, Cherry Wine has tackled many of the nation’s top 3-year-olds this spring and summer. After finishing fourth in the $900,000 Rebel (G2) March 19, Cherry Wine ran third in the $1 million Blue Grass Stakes (G1) April 9 at Keeneland, second in the $1.5 million Preakness (G1) May 21 at Pimlico, seventh in the $1.5 million Belmont (G1) June 11 at Belmont Park and ninth in the $500,000 Indiana Derby (G2) July 16 at Indiana Grand.

Rebel winner Cupid returned to capture the Indiana Derby and Saturday’s $750,000 West Virginia Derby (G2) at Mountaineer. Rebel third Creator won the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16 at Oaklawn and the Belmont.

Cherry Wine made two turf starts last year, finishing second and third in maiden races in Kentucky. Listed at 12-1 on the morning line, he drew the rail Saturday and is scheduled to be ridden for the first time by Hall of Famer Mike Smith.

Probable post time for the Secretariat Stakes is 3:43 p.m. (Central). The 10-race card is highlighted by the Arlington Million (G1).

Class of 2016

Three prominent Oaklawn figures will be inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Friday in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Steve Asmussen, North America’s second-winningest trainer (7,379 victories), has captured seven titles at Oaklawn since 2007. He Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016. He has 498 career victories in Hot Springs, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.

Asmussen, 50, will be joined by female equine stars Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta.

Rachel Alexandra won Oaklawn’s $50,000 Martha Washington Stakes and $250,000 Fantasy Stakes (G2) en route to 2009 Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old filly honors. She made her first 10 career starts for now-retired trainer Hal Wiggins (an Oaklawn regular) before being sold privately and transferred to Asmussen.

Rachel Alexandra closed 2009 by beating males in three Grade 1 races (Preakness, Haskell and Woodward). She was 8 for 8 in 2009 and won 13 of 19 starts overall.

Zenyatta won Oaklawn’s $500,000 Apple Blossom (G1) in 2008 and 2010 – two of her three career starts outside California – and beat males in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) in 2009 at Santa Anita.

Zenyatta, who won 19 of 20 career starts, was Horse of the Year in 2010 and the country’s champion older female in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

In addition to Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, five-other Oaklawn-raced horses have been named Horse of the Year in the last 14 years: Azeri (2002), Saint Liam (2005), Curlin (2007-2008), Havre de Grace (2011) and American Pharoah (2015).

Another Three-peat?

Danny Caldwell, Oaklawn’s leading owner the last two years, is nearing another title at Prairie Meadows in Iowa. Caldwell holds a 40-36 lead over End Zone Athletics (trainer Karl Broberg) with three days remaining in the meeting.

Caldwell is seeking his third consecutive personal triple crown by topping the standings at Oaklawn, Prairie Meadows and Remington Park in Oklahoma City in the same year.

Caldwell won 22 races this year at Oaklawn and 18 last year.

Remington’s meet begins Friday.

Oaklawn regulars Alex Birzer (80 victories) and Ramon Vazquez (79) are 1-2 in the Prairie Meadows jockey standings. Birzer was Oaklawn’s fifth-leading rider this year with 30 victories. Vazquez has finished runner-up to Ricardo Santana Jr. the last two years in Hot Springs.

Broberg, who won three races this year at Oaklawn, is the runaway leader in the Prairie Meadows trainer standings with 57 victories.

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

Finish Lines

Chris Hartman, Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 2015 and runner-up this year, saddled his first winner at the Del Mar meeting in Wednesday’s first race with Bottle Rocket ($8.40). Bottle Rocket was claimed out of the race for $62,500. … Four-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. recorded his ninth victory at the Saratoga meeting in Wednesday’s third race aboard Show Giant ($10.20) for trainer Gary Contessa. Santana has won at least one race for seven trainers in his first year as a Saratoga regular. … Oaklawn-raced The Truth Or Else and Lewys Vaporizer are entered in the $100,000 Tale of the Cat Stakes Friday at Saratoga. … Point Piper, third in the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 16 at Oaklawn, is the 4-1 third choice on the morning line for the $200,000 Longacres Mile (G3) Sunday at Emerald Downs.  Sammy Mandeville, ninth in last year’s Oaklawn Handicap, is 12-1 on the morning line. Sammy Mandeville was runner-up in last year’s Longacres Mile, the biggest race in the Pacific Northwest. … Jon Court, Oaklawn’s leading jockey in 2000, has 3,981 career victories, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.

 

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