Jayaraman Enjoying Time as Trainer
Owner K.K. Jayaraman recorded his first victory as a trainer since March 23, 2000, at Oaklawn when favored Comic Bird broke his maiden by 5 ½ lengths Feb. 4 in Hot Springs.
An owner since the 1970s, Jayaraman, 75, made his training comeback at this year’s Oaklawn meeting after Tim Ice decided to remain in the Mid-Atlantic region this winter. Comic Bird, bred and owned by Jayaraman and wife Devi, had previously been with Ice.
“We’ve been coming to Oaklawn every year for almost 25, 30 years,” K.K. Jayaraman said.
Jayaraman entered Thursday with a 1-1-0 record from 14 starts at Oaklawn. The trainer, who has employed more than 90 other trainers as an owner, initially went out on his own in 1999 and won five races. He had a 7-6-3 record from 61 starts at the 2000 Oaklawn meeting before leaving training.
“I don’t know if I’m better now,” said Jayaraman, a retired cardiologist. “I was younger in those days.”
The trainer has around 15 horses at Oaklawn, including Comic Bird, a 4-year-old Arkansas-bred colt by the late Summer Bird, another homebred for the Jayaramans and an Eclipse Award winner as the country’s champion male of 2009. Summer Bird, who was trained by Ice, broke his maiden at Oaklawn before running third in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G2) in his next start.
The Jayaramans were Oaklawn’s leading owners in 1998, 1999, 2001 and 2007.
Noted for having a quick hook as an owner, Jayaraman said he isn’t sure if he will continue training after the Oaklawn meeting ends April 16.
“It depends on how many horses I have left,” Jayaraman said with a laugh. “A few of them will get claimed.”
Mario Convento, a former protégé of three-time Oaklawn training champion Bobby Barnett, is assisting Jayaraman.
Owner/trainer Otabek Umarov only has five horses at Oaklawn, but three are pointing for stakes races next month.
Umarov, wintering in Hot Springs for the first time this year, said Thursday morning that he plans to run maiden Majestic Ride in the $100,000 Hot Springs Stakes for older sprinters March 5 and Looks to Spare and La Macchina in the $350,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses March 19.
La Macchina, at odds of 11-1, won the $100,000 Essex Handicap Saturday at Oaklawn. Looks to Spare, at 88-1, finished third in the $500,000 Clark Handicap (G1) Nov. 27 at Churchill Downs in his last start.
Majestic Ride has run second and third in two maiden-allowance races at the Oaklawn meeting.
A fourth Oaklawn starter for Umarov, Incremental, ran fifth in the $100,000 Fifth Season Stakes Jan. 16. Overall, he has a 2-2-1 record from six starts at the meeting and purse earnings of $139,400.
Hart to Hart
Defending Oaklawn training champion Chris Hartman enters Thursday’s program third in the standings with eight victories.
Hartman trails Ron Moquett of Hot Springs (14) and Brad Cox (nine), both seeking their first Oaklawn training title.
Six-time Oaklawn training champion Steve Asmussen is tied for fourth with seven victories.
“There’s a lot of quality at the meet, for sure,” Hartman said. “It looks like Moquett is loaded with a lot of nice horses. Steve is going to be tough, and so is Brad Cox. All of those guys have a lot of nice horses. As far as repeating, I don’t really worry about those things until it gets later in the meet. I don’t know if I have the numbers. It was a blessed meet last year.”
Hartman won 34 races last year at Oaklawn, four more than runner-up Asmussen.
Gentlemen’s Bet will make his two-turn debut in a one-mile allowance race Thursday at Oaklawn rather than defend his title in the $100,000 Hot Springs Stakes March 5, trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs said. The Hot Springs is the final major local prep for the $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 10. Moquett said he is using Thursday’s eighth race (probable post time is 4:42 p.m., Central) as a prep for the Count Fleet at 6 furlongs. … Trainer Kenny McPeek said a one-mile entry-level allowance race Friday at Oaklawn is “possibly” Rated R Superstar’s audition for the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds March 19 at Oaklawn. “He needs to win,” McPeek said. Rated R Superstar will be making his first start since finishing ninth in the $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) Nov. 28 at Churchill Downs. … McPeek said he will probably breeze Dothraki Queen, third in last year’s $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), Saturday morning at Oaklawn. … Cosmic Evolution, prepping for the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies March 12, worked 5 furlongs in 1:03.20 Thursday morning at Oaklawn under Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel. The Honeybee is the final major local prep for the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 9. … The $100,000 Spring Fever Stakes for older filly and mare sprinters Saturday at Oaklawn drew a field of 11, including Grade 2 winner High Dollar Woman, who is using the 5 ½-furlong race as a prep for the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 19 at Oaklawn. Also entered are Haveyougoneaway, Thirteen Arrows and Super Saks. … On Fire Baby, winner of Oaklawn’s $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) in 2013, had her first foal earlier this week, a filly by 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper. … Through 20 days of racing at Oaklawn, 187 claims have totaled $2,774,500.