Whitmore Opts for Allowance Race
Lightly raced Whitmore will make his 3-year-old debut in Saturday’s ninth race at Oaklawn, an entry-level allowance/optional claiming sprint, trainer Ron Moquett said.
Whitmore is also entered in Monday’s $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes, a 1-mile race that is the first major local prep for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16. But, Moquett said the potential bulky field for the Smarty Jones – the race drew 14 entrants – swayed him to run in the softer spot.
“I was hoping that it would split,” Moquett said, referring to the Smarty Jones. “That distance, with that many horses – even if you win the race, for us, with our experience level, I don’t think we can work on what I want to work on to get him better.”
After winning his Nov. 6 career debut sprinting at Churchill Downs, Whitmore, in his two-turn debut, ran fifth in the $1 million Delta Jackpot Stakes (G1) Nov. 21 at Delta Downs. He has has breezed in company since arriving at Oaklawn late last year.
The gelded son of Breeders’ Cup Classic and Dubai World Cup winner Pleasantly Perfect, will be racing in blinkers for the first time Saturday.
“I’m just trying to get him to focus a little more,” Moquett said. “Any time people use blinkers, it’s for the same reason. He’s inexperienced. I want him to focus on what’s in front of him, instead of all the noise and things beside him.”
Moquett said Whitmore’s major Oaklawn goal is the Arkansas Derby.
Whitmore will be reunited with jockey Didiel Osorio in Saturday’s 6-furlong race. Osorio, riding at Oaklawn for the first time this year, guided Whitmore to his 7 ¼-length debut victory.
He is the 7-2 second choice in the program. The 5-2 program favorite is stakes-placed Conquest Twister, who is scheduled to make his dirt debut for trainer Mark Casse.
Probable post time for the ninth race is 5:09 p.m. (Central).
Smarty Jones Draws 14
Monday’s $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn drew a full field of 14, including multiple stakes winner Toews On Ice for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who has dominated Oaklawn’s 3-year-old stakes program in recent years.
Toews On Ice is scheduled to break from post 2 under Martin Garcia and carry top weight of 122 pounds.
A son of 2011 Arkansas Derby winner Archarcharch, Toews On Ice won 3 of 6 starts last year, including the $100,000 Bob Hope Stakes (G3) Nov. 14 at Del Mar. In his final start at 2, Toews On Ice finished second in the $350,000 Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) Dec. 19 at Los Alamitos.
Toews On Ice will mark Baffert’s earliest of 43 career Oaklawn starters.
Baffert won last year’s $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) and $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn with American Pharoah, who went on to sweep the Triple Crown.
Completing the Smarty Jones field from the rail out: Charming Deputy, Santo Sanjur to ride, 115 pounds; Cutacorner, Quincy Hamilton, 115; Back Togetheragain, Shane Laviolette, 115; Whitmore (SCRATCHED), Didiel Osorio, 115; Gordy Florida, Glenn Corbett, 115; Discreetness, Jon Court, 119; Black Ops, Calvin Borel, 115; Synchrony, Shaun Bridgmohan, 117; Gray Sky, Terry Thompson, 115; Shogood, Chris Emigh, 119; Force It, Julio Felix, 117; and Knights Key, Joe Rocco Jr., 115.
An entry-level allowance/optional claiming route Thursday could attract a couple of more Smarty Jones entrants.
A Sassy Lady
Sassy Miss Sue, a 3-year-old full sister to Grade 1 winner and millionaire Tiz Miz Sue, is scheduled to make her career debut in Sunday’s seventh race at 5 ½ furlongs.
Probable post time is 4:14 p.m. (Central).
Sassy Miss Sue, a bay daughter of Horse of the Year Tiznow, worked 3 furlongs out of the gate Saturday morning in :40 to become eligible for Sunday’s race.
Joe Rocco Jr. is named to ride Sassy Miss Sue, who is scheduled to break from post 5.
In addition to Sassy Miss Sue and Tiz Miz Sue, Steve Hobby of Hot Springs trained their dam, Oaklawn stakes winner Sue’s Good News, for longtime client Carol Ricks.
“Tiz Miz Sue was totally different from her mother,” Hobby said. “Sassy Miss Sue is exactly like her sister. It’s like training her all over again. They’re identical. They’ve got the same makings, everything.”
Hobby said Sassy Miss Sue, who has a prominent blaze and trains in a shadow roll, had a tiny chip removed from an ankle last summer.
She was nearly ready to run last fall at Churchill Downs, but Hobby said he opted to wait until Oaklawn.
“I didn’t want to run her when she was almost ready,” Hobby said. “A lot of horses I would have, just get the out in them and get some experience before this meet starts. But I didn’t want to do that with her.”
Hobby said his biggest challenge in the morning with Sassy Miss Sue is trying to slow her down.
“She wants to do too much,” Hobby said.
Tiz Miz Sue won Oaklawn’s Azeri Stakes (G3) in 2012 and 2013. Sue’s Good News won the Instant Racing Breeders’ Cup Stakes in 2003 at Oaklawn.
News on The Queen
Grade 2 winner Dothraki Queen is galloping at Oaklawn, but is not ready to begin breezing in preparation for her 3-year-old debut, trainer Kenny McPeek said Saturday morning.
Dothraki Queen completed a productive 2015 campaign with a fourth-place finish in the $200,000 Golden Rod Stakes (G2) Nov. 28 at Churchill Downs.
After winning the $200,000 Pocahontas Stakes (G2) Sept. 12 at Churchill Downs, Dothraki Queen finished second in a pair of Grade 1 events, including the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) Oct. 31 at Keeneland.
“I have no race planned for her yet,” McPeek said. “We’re Grade 2 placed, and our goal is to get a Grade 1 with her.”
McPeek said Dothraki Queen is under consideration for the $500,000 Ashland Stakes (G1) at Keeneland and $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn. Both races are April 9.
Ivan Fallunovalot worked a half-mile out of the gate in :49.40 Saturday morning under Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel. Trainer Tom Howard of Hot Springs said he’s pointing Ivan Fallunovalot for the $100,000 King Cotton Stakes Jan. 30 at Oaklawn, a race he won last year. … Trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs said multiple stakes winner Gentlemen’s Bet is now “under consideration” for the King Cotton. … Springboard Mile runner-up Suddenbreakingnews worked 5 furlongs in 1:00.40 just after the track opened Saturday morning for trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel. Suddenbreakingnews is a candidate for the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 15 at Oaklawn and the $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2) Feb. 20 at Fair Grounds, Von Hemel said. … Trainer Otabek Umarov is scheduled to send out his first Oaklawn starter, Incremental, in Saturday’s $100,000 Fifth Season Stakes for older horses. Umarov was winless in four starts as a jockey at the 2005 Oaklawn meeting. Umarov sent out Looks to Spare, an 88-1 long shot, to a third-place finish in the $500,000 Clark Handicap (G1) Nov. 27 at Churchill Downs. Umarov said Looks to Spare is pointing for the $300,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) March 19 at Oaklawn.