Friday, February 19, 2016
Hobby Calls Audible with High Dollar Woman in Spring Fever
Trainer Steve Hobby of Hot Springs had planned to have a starter in the $100,000 Spring Fever Stakes for older filly and mare sprinters Saturday at Oaklawn. Just not High Dollar Woman, a Grade 2 winner at 1 1/16 miles.
“It was the other horse,” Hobby said. “Wrong horse.”
Hobby saddled Spring Included to win last year’s Spring Fever, but the 5-year-old mare’s form subsequently went south and she was retired to begin a broodmare career following an unplaced in the $100,000 American Beauty Stakes Jan. 23 at Oaklawn.
So, after a 6-furlong allowance race Friday at Oaklawn didn’t fill, High Dollar Woman will make her 4-year-old debut in the 5 ½-furlong Spring Fever. Hobby is using the Spring Fever as a prep for the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) at 1 1/16 miles March 19 at Oaklawn.
“We’re kind of flying by the seat of our pants, shooting from the hip – however you want to put it,” Hobby said. “She’s training outstanding. It’s the only reason I’m doing this. She’s doing so well, you just hate to keep breezing her and breezing her and breezing her.”
Hobby said he wanted to bring back High Dollar Woman in a sprint because he used the same tactic last year to win the $200,000 Indiana Oaks (G2) July 18 at Indiana Grand. Before stretching out to 1 1/16 miles, High Dollar Woman finished second in a June 26 allowance sprint at Indiana Grand.
“We thought, ‘Well, it worked once, I mean, why not go back the same way?’ ” Hobby said. “We’re running in a stake instead of an allowance race and we’re going half-a-furlong less.”
High Dollar Woman is scheduled to break from post 6 under Joe Rocco Jr. and carry 115 pounds.
High Dollar Woman hasn’t started since the $100,000 Monmouth Oaks (G3) Aug. 22 at Monmouth Park because of a problem with a suspensory ligament in a hind leg, Hobby said.
In her only Oaklawn start, High Dollar Woman, then trained by Tony Dutrow, ran fifth in last year’s $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes. The daughter of Super Saver was subsequently transferred to Hobby.
A week after arriving on a flight that originated in Southern California, Wolf Man Rocket is entered in a first-level allowance race at a mile Friday at Oaklawn for trainer Tom Howard of Hot Springs.
Wolf Man Rocket, then under the care of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, broke his maiden in the $100,000 Northern Spur Stakes for 3-year-olds last April at Oaklawn.
Wolf Man Rocket hasn’t won since, running fifth in the $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes (G2) May 9 at Belmont Park and, following a minor leg problem, eighth and sixth in two allowance/optional claiming races at the Santa Anita winter/spring meeting.
Wolf Man Rocket, a $550,000 OBS April 2-year-old in training purchase, is owned by Frank Fletcher of North Little Rock, Ark., who has horses with Baffert on the West Coast and Howard in the Midwest.
Howard’s wife, Kathy, is also Fletcher’s racing manager.
Wolf Man Rocket, a son of 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft, arrived with the Baffert-trained Collected and Hoffenheim, who ran on Monday’s Presidents’ Day card.
“Mr. Fletcher wanted to have something here,” Tom Howard said. “The horse looks the part.”
Wolf Man Rocket is scheduled to break from post 2 under Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel. Probable post time for Friday’s seventh race is 4:14 p.m. (Central). Howard said he isn’t sure the plan for Wolf Man Rocket after the Oaklawn meeting ends April 16.
Making a Case
Trainer Mark Casse said Thursday morning that he was leaning toward running Siding Spring in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 19 at Oaklawn. Siding Spring, in his 3-year-old debut, finished fifth, beaten 6 ½ lengths under Joe Rocco Jr.
An 11th-hour entrant in the 1 1/16-mile Southwest, Siding Spring led through splits of :23.10, :47.06 and 1:12.30 for 6 furlongs. It was the colt’s first start since finishing unplaced in his dirt debut, the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) Oct. 31 at Keeneland, and first start in blinkers.
Casse said Siding Spring was also racing in a regular shoe after previously using a bar shoe because of an “old quarter-crack.” The trainer said he was “very happy” with Siding Spring’s performance in the Rebel and “shocked” how fast he was.
“It’s been kind of a strange winter with him,” Casse said. “He just went for a long time where he just wasn’t himself, and he just started coming around. We contemplated not running him, but we decided that it could only help him and I’ll think he’ll come out of that race a much better horse. It was a crazy race.”
Casse said he believed Siding Spring “might win” at the half-mile pole. Siding Spring was passed by four horses in the stretch, including last-to-first winner Suddenbreakingnews, then galloped out past the same four horses.
“I don’t know what that was all about,” Casse said with a laugh. “Joe said, ‘I don’t know.’ He said it’s like he caught his breath and then took off again. I mean, he went out strong.”
Casse said if Siding Spring doesn’t run in the Rebel, he’ll be pointed for an allowance race around the same time.
Trainer Kenny Smith said Gordy Florida will return to sprints following his 10th-place finish in Monday’s $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn. Gordy Florida won his first two career starts sprinting last year at Remington Park before finishing second in his two-two debut, the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 18 at Oaklawn. The Southwest was 1 1/16 miles. Oaklawn’s upcoming sprint stakes for 3-year-olds are the $100,000 Gazebo March 26 and $100,000 Bachelor April 15. … Noble Bird, winner of last year’s $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs, is scheduled to make his 5-year-old debut in Sunday’s eighth race at Oaklawn, a 1-mile conditioned allowance/optional claimer. Trainer Mark Casse said Noble Bird’s major spring objective is the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 16. … Theogony, runner-up in the $100,000 Pippin Stakes Jan. 17 at Oaklawn, worked a half-mile in :49.60 after the renovation break Friday morning at Oaklawn for Casse. … Trainer Will VanMeter said Pearl Turn left Oaklawn Tuesday to be bred to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. Pearl Turn, in her final career start, finished eighth in Sunday’s $100,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn. Pearl Turn represented VanMeter’s first career winner at the 2014 Oaklawn meeting. American Pharoah won the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) and $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) last year at Oaklawn.