Southwest Equals Decision Time for Bird of Trey

Trainer John Servis said Bird of Trey’s ensuing flight pattern will be determined by his performance in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds Monday at Oaklawn. A Pennsylvania-bred son of 2004 Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone, the colt is coming off a fourth-place finish in the $200,000 Jerome Stakes (G3) Jan. 2 at Aqueduct. He was beaten 16 ½ lengths by Flexibility under Kendrick Carmouche.

“Carmouche thought he fit,” said Servis, who won the 2004 Southwest with champion Smarty Jones. “He thought he just rode a bad race, he was upset with himself. Matter of fact when he got off him, the first thing he said to me was: ‘John, bring this horse back. He fits. He belongs with these horses.’ ”

Servis said Bird of Trey was too close to the pace in the Jerome – his first route start – and was a candidate to “bounce” following a powerful 7 ¼-length victory in the $100,000 Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes Dec. 5 at Parx, where the trainer is based.

“If I can get that out of him, then he’s going to fit here very well,” Servis said. “If he doesn’t, then we’ll take him back home. There are plenty of PA-bred races for him.”

Bird of Trey will be ridden in the 1 1/16-mile Southwest by Josh Navarro, who guided the colt to his blowout victory in the Pennsylvania Nursery, a 7-furlong race restricted to state-breds. Navarro rode Nasa to a conditioned allowance victory Thursday at Oaklawn for Servis.

Servis saddled Smarty Jones to win the 2003 Pennsylvania Nursery by 15 lengths and won the race again in 2014 with Nasa, a son of Smarty Jones.

Rebel Yell

Unbeaten Dazzling Gem will be pointed for the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds March 19 at Oaklawn, trainer Brad Cox said Sunday morning. Despite racing greenly in the stretch, Dazzling Gem wore down Gray Sky on the outside in the final furlong to win a 1 1/16-mile entry-level allowance race Saturday at Oaklawn by two lengths under Shaun Bridgmohan.

“Good day,” Cox said. “The horse ran good. We expected a lot out of him.”

Dazzling Gem, a son of 2010 Santa Anita Handicap winner Misremembered, ran 1 1/16 miles over a fast track in 1:45.91. La Macchina won the $100,000 Essex Handicap for older horses about a half-hour later at Oaklawn in 1:45.27 for 1 1/16 miles.

Cox said the Rebel is a good fit for Dazzling Gem because he won’t have to travel, timing of the race, 1 1/16-mile distance and a record purse.

“I guess it’s the next step, unless there’s a race created I don’t know about,” Cox said with a laugh.

Dazzling Gem debuted Jan. 18 at one mile. About a half-hour earlier at Oaklawn, Gray Sky ran fifth, beaten 3 ¾ length in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes.

The Smarty Jones is Oaklawn’s first major prep for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16. The Rebel is the final major local prep.

“Obviously, he likes this track,” Cox said. “He raced green yesterday, but the fractions were solid, a little more solid than the Essex. Came home just a shade slower, but you’re comparing older horses and younger horses.”

Dazzling Gem was a $95,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sales purchase by Cox’s biggest client, prominent Arkansas automobile dealer Steve Landers.

Sire Misremembered, in his final career start, finished second in the $350,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) in 2011 for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Finish Lines

Multiple stakes winner Ghost Locket worked a bullet half-mile (:47) before the break Sunday morning at Oaklawn for trainer Don Von Hemel of Hot Springs. Von Hemel said Ghost Locket is returning from an ankle problem and could run toward the end of the Oaklawn meeting. … Spelling Again, a candidate for upcoming local stakes, worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.80 Sunday morning at Oaklawn for trainer Brad Cox. … Kiss Moon, pointing for the $300,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 19 at Oaklawn, worked 3 furlongs in :37.80 Sunday morning at Oaklawn for trainer David Vance.Jon Court, Oaklawn’s co-third leading jockey this year, has withdrawn his appeal to the Arkansas Racing Commission of a three-day riding suspension and will serve his days Thursday-Sunday. The suspension stems from a Jan. 30 incident (drifting out and causing interference) aboard Zimmerman in the third race. … Oaklawn set season highs for attendance (estimated 24,000) and on-track handle ($1,474,573.80) Saturday. … Trainer Jeff Lynn won a 16-way shake to claim Big Sugarush, winner of Saturday’s second race at Oaklawn, for $5,000. … Through the first 18 days of racing at Oaklawn, 162 claims have totaled $2,443,250.

 

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