Thursday, January 21, 2016
Von Hemel Leaning Towards Southwest with Synchrony
Trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel said Synchrony will “more than likely” make his next start in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 15 at Oaklawn following an encouraging third-place finish in Monday’s Smarty Jones Stakes. The 1-mile Smarty Jones is the first of three major local preps for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16.
In his two-turn and stakes debut Monday, Synchrony was beaten two lengths by Discreetness, who set a stakes record (1:38.05) over a fast track. Synchrony (by Tapit) had only one horse beaten after a quarter-mile, but steadily advanced toward the front along the inside on the second turn and was gaining on the leaders after switching to his right lead at the eighth pole.
“You obviously want to win,” Von Hemel said Wednesday morning. “But, I think considering the track condi-tions and as slowly as we got away from the gate, he really waded up through a lot of traffic and was still trying to get something done at end. A lot of positives out of the race.”
Discreetness was coming off a nose victory over the Von Hemel-trained Suddenbreakingnews in the $250,000 Springboard Mile Stakes Dec. 13 at Remington Park.
Von Hemel said Suddenbreakingnews remains under consideration for the Southwest and $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2) Feb. 20 at Fair Grounds. Both races are 1 1/16 miles.
Synchrony (Josephine Abercrombie) and Suddenbreakingnews (Samuel Henderson) have different owners.
“If it’s best for both of them to run here and not travel, then we’ll probably run both of them here,” Von Hemel said. “I’ll reserve judgment on that.”
Trainer John Servis said he plans to have five horses on the grounds in the next few weeks, including Bird of Trey, who is pointing for the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds Feb. 15.
Servis rose to national prominence when he sent a string of horses to Oaklawn for the first time in 2004, notably Smarty Jones, who earned the track’s $5 million “Centennial Bonus” by winning the Southwest Stakes, Rebel Stakes, Arkansas Derby and Kentucky Derby. He was named champion 3-year-old male of 2004.
Servis said he decided to send a small string to Oaklawn this year because Parx in suburban Philadelphia, his longtime home base, isn’t scheduled to reopen from its winter break until Feb. 13.
“Got some horses that are doing pretty good and really need to run,” Servis said. “Have some owners that are from there and would really like to see their horse run there. My son was willing, and gung ho, so we sent a few there.”
Servis said son Tyler will oversee his horses in Hot Springs and “eventually, one day” go out on his own.
Older brother Blane is already a trainer and won 20 races since saddling his first starter in 2013.
“I’ll let Tyler run the show, but I’ll probably be in for the Southwest,” said John Servis, who formerly owned a home in Hot Springs.
Like Smarty Jones, Bird of Trey won the Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes, a $100,000 race restricted to Pennsylvania-breds, in his final start at 2. He began his 3-year-old campaign with a fourth-place finish in the $200,000 Jerome Stakes (G3) Jan. 2 at Aqueduct. Ironically, he is by Birdstone, who denied Smarty Jones the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes.
Servis said if multiple stakes winner Joint Return runs well in Saturday’s $50,000 Wayward Lass at Tampa Bay Downs, she’ll point for the $100,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) Feb. 14 at Oaklawn.
Nasa, a candidate for conditioned allowance races at Oaklawn, won the 2014 Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes for owner/breeder Patricia Chapman, who also campaigned his sire, Smarty Jones.
Bird of Trey and Nasa are already on the grounds.
An American Beauty
Grade 2 winner Sarah Sis drew post 2 for the $100,000 American Beauty Stakes for older fillies and mare sprinters Saturday afternoon at Oaklawn. Trainer Ingrid Mason said she’s using the 6-furlong American Beauty as a prep for the $100,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) Feb. 14 at Oaklawn. The 1 1/16-mile Bayakoa is the second major local prep for the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 15.
Sarah Sis hasn’t started since recording her biggest career victory in the $250,000 Raven Run Stakes (G2) at 7 furlongs Oct. 17 at Keeneland. She was one of Oaklawn’s leading 3-year-old fillies last year, winning the $150,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles.
Sarah Sis is scheduled to carry co-top weight of 122 pounds Saturday, including jockey Julio Felix.
Completing the projected seven-horse field from the rail out are Meshell, Chris Emigh to ride, 122 pounds; Su-per Saks, Terry Thompson, 122; Swing It Dish, Alex Birzer, 114; Haveyougoneaway, Jareth Loveberry, 117; Donita’s Ruler, Carlos Marquez Jr., 114; and Spring Included, Joe Rocco Jr., 114.
The speedy Super Saks was an 11-length maiden winner last year at Oaklawn and, in her last start, won the $80,000 Dream Supreme Stakes Nov. 27 at Churchill Downs.
Spring Included won the $100,000 Spring Fever Stakes and $100,000 Carousel Stakes last year at Oaklawn, but has lost her last four starts. She will be retired and bred to Grade 1 winner The Big Beast with a poor perfor-mance in the American Beauty, owner Alex Lieblong said.
Probable post time for the American Beauty, the eighth of nine races, is 4:38 p.m. (Central).
Co-owner/trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs said Thursday morning that he’s “leaning toward” running Whitmore in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 15 at Oaklawn. Whitmore was a sharp entry-level allowance/optional claiming sprint winner Saturday. … High Dollar Woman, winner of last year’s $200,000 Indiana Oaks (G2), worked a half-mile in :51 Thursday morning for trainer Steve Hobby of Hot Springs and owners Alex and JoAnn Lieblong of Conway, Ark. Hobby said High Dollar Woman’s first major 2016 objective is the $300,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 19 at Oaklawn. … Trainer Brad Cox said he’s using a scheduled Friday open second-level allowance/optional claiming sprint at Oaklawn as Weast Hill’s prep for a return to Arkansas-bred stakes company later in the meet. Weast Hill won 3 of 5 starts last year, including the $75,000 Rainbow Stakes for 3-year-old Arkansas-bred colts and geldings. Weast Hill was turned out following a second-place finish in a July 7 allowance/optional claimer at Indiana Grand. The gelding has breezed three times at Oaklawn in preparation for his 4-year-old debut. … Trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel said he’s pointing Ready to Confess, an entry-level allowance/optional claiming winner Friday at Oaklawn, for the $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes Feb. 6. The 3-year-old filly’s victory Friday came on owner/breeder Josephine Abercrombie’s 90th birthday. …
The 1-mile Martha Washington is the first major local two-turn prep for the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 9. Von Hemel said unbeaten My Master Plan is also pointing for the Martha Washington.