Sunday, February 28, 2016

Strong Race Friday Could Add Black Ops to Rebel Picture
 
An entry-level allowance race Friday at Oaklawn could produce a starter for the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 19. Owner Richard Keith said Sunday morning that Black Ops will be wheeled back in the Rebel with a strong performance in Friday’s 1 1/16-mile race, which will be his first start against older horses and first since a 10th-place finish in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 18 at Oaklawn.

Trainer Rodney Richards said Black Ops came out of the race with a foot abscess. The Hard Spun gelding, a Nov. 28 Churchill Downs maiden graduate, worked twice earlier this month at Oaklawn in advance of Friday’s race.

“This is a prep race for the Rebel,” Keith said. “We have 14 days left, so we’ll be in good shape there.”

Black Ops is scheduled to break from post 3 under Walter De La Cruz and carry 115 pounds.

Also in the projected 11-horse field are 4-year-old Wolf Man Rocket, who broke his maiden in last year’s $100,000 Northern Spur Stakes at Oaklawn, and Charming Deputy, excluded from the Smarty Jones because of earnings.

“It’s a tough race,” Keith said.

Probable post time for Friday’s ninth race is 5:10 p.m. (Central).

Keith and Richards already have American Dubai pointing for the Rebel following a third-place finish in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 15 at Oaklawn. He recorded a 3-furlong bullet work (:36.20) Saturday morning at Oaklawn.

“He’s been tearing the stall up,” Keith said. “He can’t seem to get enough.”

Rebel probable Siding Spring, fifth in the Southwest after setting the pace, worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.20 after the renovation break Sunday morning at Oaklawn for trainer Mark Casse.

The Rebel is the final major local prep for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16.
 
Discreetness Update

Multiple stakes winner Discreetness will probably have his first work since finishing seventh in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 15 at Oaklawn Wednesday, trainer Jinks Fires of Hot Springs said Sunday morning.
Fires is pointing Discreetness for the Rebel Stakes.

After winning the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 18 at Oaklawn in his 3-year-old debut, Discreetness fin-ished seventh, beaten 10 ½ lengths in the Southwest, after breaking from the extreme outside, post 14. The Rebel is also expected to attract a large field.

“I bet it will be one,” Fires said. “I hope we draw a good post.”

Discreetness beat Southwest winner Suddenbreakingnews by a nose in the $250,000 Springboard Mile Dec. 13 at Remington Park.
 
Ivan on the Fence

Multiple stakes-winning sprinter Ivan Fallunovalot is iffy for $100,000 Hot Springs Stakes Saturday at Oaklawn because of a quarter-crack that popped up on the inside of his left front foot earlier this week, trainer Tom How-ard of Hot Springs said Sunday morning.

Howard said blacksmith Richard Fires applied a patch to stabilize the injury late Saturday morning. Ivan Fal-lunovalot didn’t train Saturday, Howard said, but returned to the track Sunday and jogged two miles.

“Ivan did good,” Howard said.

Howard praised the work of Fires, the nephew of trainer Jinks Fires of Hot Springs.

“Richard Fires, he’s a miracle worker,” Howard said. “It looks pretty good right now.”

Still, Howard said he’s not “100 percent sure” Ivan Fallunovalot will run in the Hot Springs, the final major local prep for the $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 10.

Ivan Fallunovalot, in his 2016 debut, defended his title in the $100,000 King Cotton Stakes Jan. 30 at Oaklawn. He had finished second in last year’s Hot Springs and Count Fleet.

This year’s Hot Springs closed Friday with 41 nominations. Subtle Indian, a two-time allowance winner at the meeting, and multiple stakes winner Hebbronville are scheduled to run in the 6-furlong Hot Springs.

Trainer Otabek Umarov said Sunday morning that 11-race maiden Majestic Ride remains under consideration for the Hot Springs.
 
Santana’s Surge

Three-time defending champion Ricardo Santana Jr. has taken a commanding lead in the Oaklawn standings after riding at least one winner 12 consecutive racing days.

Santana had two more winners Saturday, the 27th day of the meeting, to stretch his lead to 36-19 over runner-up Corey Nakatani.

Santana has ridden 21 winners the last 12 racing days and has seven multi-win days during the streak.
 
Back in Black?

Stakes-placed sprinter Black Bear recorded his third published 3-furlong workout this month at Oaklawn, covering the distance in :37 over a fast track Saturday morning for trainer Chris Hartman.

Black Bear is attempting a comeback after being sidelined since a third-place finish in the $100,000 King Cotton Stakes Feb. 15, 2014, at Oaklawn because of a leg problem.

“He had one injury that was just one of those deals that took an extremely long time to heal,” Hartman said. “He had a few setbacks and now he’s back grinding it out here. It’s his last hurrah, here.”

Hartman said if Black Bears runs this year at Oaklawn, it would be at the end of the meet in mid-April. A 6-year-old son of champion Midnight Lute, he has a 6-2-2-2 record from 11 lifetime starts and earnings of $187,603.

Black Bear won his first two career starts at the 2013 Oaklawn meeting.

Hartman said Oklahoma owner James Rogers (Blackhawk Stable) decided to attempt a comeback with Black Bear after being unable to secure a stallion deal.

“He’s been in and out of the jogging wheel for the last year and a half,” Hartman said. “There was a lot of hope for him at one time. Maybe he can come back. You never know with these horses.”
 
Finish Lines

Multiple stakes winner Kiss Moon worked a half-mile in :49.60 over a fast track before the renovation break Sunday morning at Oaklawn for four-time Oaklawn training champion David Vance. She is targeting the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 19 at Oaklawn for her 5-year-old debut. … Terra Promessa worked 5 fur-longs in 1:02.80 before the break Sunday morning at Oaklawn for trainer Steve Asmussen. The filly is pointing for the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 12 at Oaklawn, Asmussen said. … Multiple stakes winner Smack Smack worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.20 just after the track opened Sunday morning for trainer Don Von Hemel of Hot Springs. Von Hemel said Smack Smack will run in the $350,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) March 19 at Oaklawn if a softer spot isn’t available. … Two-time Oaklawn leading owner Danny Caldwell said Domain’s Rap, who has won four consecutive starts, including an allowance/optional claimer last Sunday at Oaklawn over Grade I winner Noble Bird, is under consideration for the Razorback.

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