Saturday, February 27, 2016

Whitmore Fires Bullet in First Work since Southwest

Whitmore worked a bullet half-mile in :48.20 Saturday morning at Oaklawn, the gelding’s first breeze since finishing second in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 15. He is scheduled to make his next start in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 19 at Oaklawn, the final major local prep for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16.

Whitmore, as he normally does, went in company and breezed over a fast surface about 20 minutes after the track opened. Under Greta Kuntzweiler, Whitmore worked inside stablemate Delilah, a 3-year-old filly who is winless in three lifetime starts. She was credited with a half-mile in :48.80.

Co-owner/trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs called Saturday’s work “a maintenance breeze.”  He added Kuntzweiler, who has over 550 career victories as a jockey, and wife/assistant/exercise rider Laura, “are the best soundboards we have” regarding Whitmore.

“Greta came back and said, ‘I sat still and let him do what he wanted to do, pretty much,’ ” Moquett said. “She said, ‘I could have went :44, if I had moved.’ ”

Moquett said Whitmore could work again Friday or next Saturday. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. is scheduled to ride Whitmore for the first time in the Rebel.

Four other Rebel candidates worked Saturday morning at Oaklawn in preparation for the Rebel.

Southwest winner Suddenbreakingnews went a half-mile in :51.20 after the renovation break for trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel.

Southwest third-place finisher American Dubai recorded a 3- furlong bullet (:36.20) for trainer Rodney Richards.

Mo for the Money, a powerful entry-level allowance winner Feb. 7 at Oaklawn, worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.80 after the break for trainer Tony Dutrow.

Unbeaten Dazzling Gem went a half-mile in :50 before the break for trainer Brad Cox.

Asmussen’s Plans

Trainer Steve Asmussen said Saturday morning “the hope, obviously,” would be for champion Untapable to make her 5-year-old debut in the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 19 at Oaklawn.

Untapable, who arrived Thursday in Hot Springs after previously being based at Fair Grounds, ran second in last year’s Azeri. She was making her first start since capping her 3-year-old season with a victory in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Distaff that secured her an Eclipse Award as the country's champion 3-year-old filly.

Asmussen said he also hopes to run Terra Promessa in the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies March 12 at Oaklawn and Carve in the $350,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses March 19 at Oaklawn.  

Terra Promessa, a daughter of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, was a nine-length entry-level allowance Feb. 5 at Oaklawn in her 3-year-old debut. Carve ran third in the $100,000 Essex Handicap Feb. 13 at Oaklawn, his first start since returning to Asmussen’s barn last year.

‘Right’ Again

Moquett said multiple stakes winner Far Right emerged in good order from his neck victory in Thursday’s eighth race, a conditioned allowance/optional claimer for older horses at 1 1/16 miles.

The victory snapped a five-race losing streak for Far Right, who won the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes and $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) at last year’s Oaklawn meeting before running second to American Pharoah in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1).

Reunited Thursday with three-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr., the late-running Far Right overcame a dawdling pace to nip front-running Abraham at the wire.

“The jock felt confident and didn’t have to use him too much,” Moquett said. “It all worked out good.”

Moquett was using the race as a prep for the $350,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) March 19 at Oaklawn. The Razorback is the final major local prep for the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 16, which is Far Right’s major spring objective.

The Notional ridgling is co-owned by Harry Rosenblum and Robert LaPenta.

Finish Lines

Call Pat worked a half-mile in :49.20 Saturday morning at Oaklawn in preparation for the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 19. Call Pat won the $100,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) Feb. 14 at Oaklawn in her last start. … Multiple graded stakes winner Sarah Sis worked a half-mile in :49.80 just after the track opened Saturday morning at Oaklawn for trainer Ingrid Mason. Sarah Sis is under consideration for the Azeri and the $200,000 Inside Information Stakes (G2) March 19 at Gulfstream Park. Mason said Friday morning that she was leaning toward the Inside Information. … Subtle Indian worked a half-mile in :49.20 Saturday morning at Oaklawn for trainer Robertino Diodoro in preparation for next Saturday’s $100,000 Hot Springs Stakes for older sprinters. … Trainer Gerald Brooks, a recent arrival at Oaklawn, has his first scheduled starter of the meeting in Saturday’s fifth race with Ore Pass. Brooks, who is based in the Mid-Atlantic region, set career highs for victories (53) and purse earnings ($1,031,744) last year, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Another recent training arrival is Garry Simms. … The now-retired The Big Beast, an allowance winner in his 2015 debut at Oaklawn, was named Maryland-bred Horse of the Year in an annual poll conducted by the Maryland Breeders Association. Following his Oaklawn victory, The Big Beast finished second in the $350,000 Vanderbilt Handicap (G1) and $700,000 Forego Stakes (G1) last summer at Saratoga. The Big Beast is now standing at Ocala Stud in Florida.

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