Saturday, February 20, 2016

Vorticity Eying Rebel Stakes

The long-range forecast is for Vorticity to run in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 19 at Oaklawn. Trainer Chuck Lawrence said Friday morning that Vorticity, runner-up in two graded stakes races last month in New York, is pointing for the 1 1/16-mile Rebel, the final major local prep for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16.

A son of Distorted Humor, Vorticity would represent the first Oaklawn starter for Lawrence, who is based at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland.

Vorticity has finished second in both starts this year – the $200,000 Jerome Stakes (G3) Jan. 2 at Aqueduct and the $250,000 Withers Stakes (G3) Jan. 30 at Aqueduct. Both races were on the inner dirt track that Aqueduct uses in the winter.

“He’s run his best race, we think, on the outer track at Aqueduct,” Lawrence said. “The inner track’s been deeper. The outer track is similar to your track down there towards the end of March.”

Before running second in the Jerome and Withers, Vorticity broke his maiden by 2 ¾ lengths Nov. 8 over Aqueduct’s main dirt surface – roughly a month before the winterized inner track opened – and won the $100,000 Marylander Stakes Dec. 5 at Laurel.  Both victories were at 7 furlongs.

Lawrence said he plans to ship Vorticity to Oaklawn around March 14 or March 15.

Vorticity is out of multiple graded stakes winner Tar Heel Mom and owned by Matt Schera, who purchased the colt for $220,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale last May. Schera won last year’s $250,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) and $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) at Oaklawn with Race Day, trained by Todd Pletcher.

Schera grew up near Reading, Pa., about an hour northwest of Philadelphia, and graduated from Penn State in 1998 with a degree in atmospheric sciences. He spent six years working as a meteorologist for two companies (AccuWeather and Constellation Energy) before moving into commodities trading. Vorticity is the measure of the amount of spin in the atmosphere at a specified level.

Also pointing for the Rebel are Suddenbreakingnews, American Dubai and Discreetness, the 1-3-7 finishers, respectively, in the Southwest. The trainers of Whitmore (Ron Moquett of Hot Springs) and Siding Spring (Mark Casse), second and fifth, respectively, in the Southwest have said they are leaning toward running in the Rebel.

Unbeaten Dazzling Gem (2 for 2 at this year’s Oaklawn meeting) is pointing for the Rebel, trainer Brad Cox said.

Taking Flight

Grade 1 winner Noble Bird is scheduled to make his 5-year-old debut in Sunday’s eighth race at Oaklawn, an allowance/optional claimer at 1 mile. He hasn’t started since finishing ninth in the $1.25 million Whitney Handicap (G1) Aug. 8 at Saratoga because of a hip injury.

“The Oaklawn Handicap is the ultimate goal,” trainer Mark Casse said.

Sunday’s race is for 4-year-olds and upward “which have not won two races other than maiden, claiming, starter or restricted since June 21, 2015, or claiming $62,500.”

Noble Bird won 3 of 6 starts last year, including an allowance/claiming race at Oaklawn and the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) June 13 at Churchill Downs. Shaun Bridgmohan, who guided Noble Bird to his Stephen Foster and Oaklawn victories, is named to ride Sunday.

Casse said Noble Bird is also scheduled to run in the $350,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) March 19 at Oaklawn in advance of the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 16.

Probable post time for Sunday’s eighth race, which has a $76,000 purse, is 4:42 p.m. (Central).

The projected 12-horse field also includes Grade 3 winner Den’s Legacy for leading Oaklawn trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs, stakes winners Rocket Time and Recount and Mal Guapo, exiting an allowance/optional claiming victory Jan. 28 at Oaklawn for trainer Brad Cox.

From A to Z

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said plans are pending for Z Royal, who finished a troubled eighth in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds Monday at Oaklawn. Under Hall of Famer Gary Stevens, the colt was beaten 15 lengths after having to take up on the first turn because of traffic.

“It went all to hell in a handbasket in the first turn,” Lukas said. “We don’t know any more than we did before the race.”

Z Royal was coming off a fifth-place finish in the $200,000 Lecomte Stakes (G3) Jan. 16 at Fair Grounds. Lukas also has Gray Sky, who finished fifth, beaten 3 ¾ lengths, in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes for 3-year-olds Jan. 18 at Oaklawn. That horse returned to finish second to unbeaten Dazzling Gem in a Feb. 13 entry-level allowance race at Oaklawn.

Lukas saddled That Makes Sense, a son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, to a nose victory in a maiden-allowance race for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles Monday at Oaklawn. The colt was purchased for $550,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s Saratoga Select Yearling Sale by Lukas’ longtime clients, Robert Baker and William Mack.

Lukas said it’s “too far down the line” to know if he’ll be represented in the Rebel Stakes, which he won in 2013 with eventual champion Will Take Charge.

Finish Lines

Dothraki Queen, unraced since finishing third in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) Oct. 31 at Keeneland, worked 3 furlongs in :37.60 before the renovation break Saturday morning at Oaklawn for trainer Kenny McPeek. It was the second work back for Dothraki Queen, a candidate for the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn and $500,000 Ashland Stakes (G1) at Keeneland. Both races are April 9. McPeek said Dothraki Queen could also resurface in a grass race. … Bumpy Cat, prepping for the $100,000 Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes Feb. 28 at Oaklawn, worked a half-mile in :48.40 after the break Saturday morning at Oaklawn for trainer Ingrid Mason. … Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner and millionaire Regally Ready worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.80 after the break Saturday morning at Oaklawn for trainer Steve Asmussen. … Multiple stakes winner Smack Smack worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.80 just after the track opened Saturday morning for trainer Don Von Hemel of Hot Springs. Von Hemel said Smack Smack is “probable” for the $350,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) March 19 at Oaklawn. … Cindy Murphy, better known to Oaklawn fans as Cindy Noll, finished second aboard Gently Tapped in Friday’s ninth race, her first mount of the meeting. Murphy, who set a single-season Oaklawn record for victories by a female jockey at the 1999 meeting (47), returned to riding in 2015 after nearly a five-year absence.  

 

 

-30-