Thursday, July 21, 2016

Oaklawn Leading Rider Santana Jr. Looks for Fast Start at Saratoga

Four-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr., who earned the biggest victory of his career when he piloted Creator to victory in the Arkansas Derby (G1), is named on 10 horses Friday and Saturday at Saratoga, the first two days of the prestigious upstate New York meet.

Santana, 23, is riding regularly at Saratoga for the first time after previously being based at Indiana Grand and Ellis Park in July and August.

Among the horses Santana is scheduled to ride are Enjoy Yourself for trainer John Terranova in Friday’s $200,000 Lake George Stakes (G2), Entertainer for trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs in Saturday’s fifth race and Gray Sky for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas in Saturday’s ninth race.

Entertainer broke his maiden Feb. 13 at Oaklawn before running second in the track’s $100,000 Gazebo Stakes March 26. Gray Sky ran four times this year at Oaklawn, finishing sixth in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 19 and eighth in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16.

Saturday’s fifth and ninth races are allowance events. Entertainer, among seven horses Santana is named on Saturday, is a main-track only entrant.

Baby Talk

Ron Moquett of Hot Springs, who finished third in Oaklawn’s trainer standings, is scheduled to send out first-time starter Torrent in the sixth race Friday at Saratoga, a maiden-allowance sprint for 2-year-old fillies.

Torrent, by 2010 champion older male Blame, is out of Tidal Pool, winner of Oaklawn’s $100,000 Red Bud Stakes in 2011. The Red Bud was the 26th meet victory for Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, who finished with 27 to secure his second Oaklawn training title. Lukas was also Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 1987.

Tidal Pool won an allowance race at the 2010 Oaklawn meeting before finishing second to champion Blind Luck in the track’s $300,000 Fantasy Stakes (G2). Tidal Pool, in her next start, ran third to Blind Luck in the $500,000 Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs.

Little Rock, Ark.-based Westrock Stables (Joe and Scott Ford) campaigned Tidal Pool and is breeder/owner of Torrent.

Torrent (10-1 on the morning line) is scheduled to break from post 6 under Jose Ortiz, leading rider at the recently concluded Belmont spring/summer meeting.

Zayat Stables’ homebred, My Sweet Stella (12-1), is scheduled to debut for Lukas and Santana Jr., Oaklawn’s leading rider the last four years. My Sweet Stella is by Eskendereya.

Seven-time Oaklawn training champion Steve Asmussen is scheduled to be represented by first-time starter Bowie, a $750,000 Keeneland November purchase by LNJ Foxwoods. Bowie (5-2) is by Malibu Moon.

Probable post time for the 5 ½-furlong race is 2:48 p.m. (Central).

California Dreaming

Two Oaklawn-raced horses are scheduled to challenge champion California Chrome in the $200,000 San Diego Handicap (G2) Saturday at Del Mar.

Win the Space, as a maiden, ran sixth behind American Pharoah in last year’s $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1). Hard Aces finished sixth in last year’s $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2).

Win the Space is scheduled to break from post 7 under Hall of Famer Mike Smith and carry 116 pounds. Hard Aces is scheduled to break from the rail under Santiago Gonzalez and carry 118 pounds.

Dual classic winner California Chrome (2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness) is scheduled to break from post 6 under Victor Espinoza and carry top weight of 126 pounds.

California Chrome was the 2014 champion 3-year-old male and Horse of the Year. American Pharoah was the 2015 champion 3-year-old male and Horse of the Year after sweeping the Triple Crown.

Probable post time for the 1 1/16-mile San Diego Handicap is 8:10 p.m. (Central).

Finish Lines

Brad Cox, Oaklawn’s fourth-leading trainer this year, enters Thursday with 498 career victories, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Cox has three horses entered Thursday at Indiana Grand, including stakes-winning Uncle Brennie for owner Staton Flurry of Hot Springs. Uncle Brennie was the first horse housed in Oaklawn’s Zenyatta barn, which opened before the 2016 meeting. … Chris Hartman, Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 2015 and runner-up this year, finished second in Wednesday’s fifth race at Del Mar with Bottle Rocket.  Hartman has claimed three horses through the first four days of the Del Mar meeting. …Black Bear, who won his first two career starts at the 2013 Oaklawn meeting, finished second in the $50,000 Don Bernhardt Stakes Saturday at Ellis Park.

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