Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Whitmore Works Toward Rebel Stakes

Co-owner/trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs called an audible Sunday morning at Oaklawn, working Whitmore in company in advance of Saturday’s $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2).

Breezing over a muddy, sealed surface under Greta Kuntzweiler, Whitmore and multiple stakes winner Far Right, also trained by Moquett, covered a half-mile in :51 and galloped out 5 furlongs in 1:04. The trainer had planned to breeze Whitmore Monday morning, but moved up the work because of the threat of severe thunderstorms late Sunday afternoon.

“With the weather coming in, I thought it would be best,” Moquett said. “It worked out fine.”

Whitmore, runner-up in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 15 at Oaklawn, may not be Moquett’s only Rebel starter. He said Sunday morning that he was leaning toward running lightly raced Tisdale in the Rebel, which is the final major local prep for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16.

Tisdale, in his third career start, broke his maiden at the Rebel distance (1 1/16 miles) Feb. 6 at Oaklawn under Corey Nakatani. Moquett said he will make a decision on Tisdale, named for the late Oklahoma basketball great Wayman Tisdale, following a scheduled work Monday morning at Oaklawn.

The addition of Tisdale, a son of Friesan Fire, would push the projected Rebel field to the maximum 14. If the race oversubscribes, starting preference is given to horses with the highest earnings. Tisdale ($54,700) would be No. 11 and bump Z Royal ($40,911) to the final available spot.

“If it wasn’t for everybody bringing in horses from everywhere, then I would wait and find another spot,” Moquett said. “If the gates are going to be filled full, with 14 horses, then two of them might as well be ours.”

Moquett said if Tisdale bypasses the Rebel, he will be under consideration for the $125,000 Northern Spur Stakes at Oaklawn and the $150,000 Lexington Stakes (G3) at Keeneland. Both races are April 16.

“As far as physical reasons, he’s 100 percent ready to go” Moquett said.

Also scheduled to run in the Rebel are Suddenbreakingnews, American Dubai, Discreetness, Ralis, Cutacorner, Creator, Cherry Wine, Gray Sky, Siding Spring, Cupid and Spikes Shirl.

Southern California-based Ralis and Cupid are scheduled to be flown to Arkansas on Tuesday.

Post positions for the Rebel will be drawn Wednesday.

The Rebel will anchor a blockbuster card that also features the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) for older fillies and mares and $350,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses.

Far Right is scheduled to run in the Razorback.

High Five

Three-time defending Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. rode five winners on Saturday’s nine-race card, highlighted by Terra Promessa’s victory in the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3).

Santana, 23, narrowly missed Oaklawn’s single-day record for victories (six), a mark shared by Pat Day and Larry Snyder. He finished third aboard Gabio, beaten 1 ¼ lengths, in the second race. He also rode five winners at Oaklawn April 11, 2013, and Feb. 6, 2015.

In addition to Terra Promessa ($8), Santana won the first race aboard favored Star Canyon ($4.80), fifth race aboard favored It’s All Up to You ($5), seventh race aboard Luna de Loco ($9.40) and ninth race aboard Divine Thunder ($9).

Santana rode Star Canyon and It’s All Up to You for defending Oaklawn training champion Chris Hartman, Luna de Loco and Terra Promessa for six-time Oaklawn training champion Steve Asmussen and Divine Thunder for trainer Randy Matthews.

Santana is Oaklawn’s runaway riding leader this year, with his meet-high 49 victories coming for 16 trainers. After winning riding titles in 2013 (70 victories), 2014 (59) and 2015 (53), Santana is poised for his most successful Oaklawn meeting. Saturday was the 34th day of the now-scheduled 55-day meeting.

“I’m riding a lot of good horses,” Santana said.

Terra Promessa represented the 16th Oaklawn stakes victory for Santana, who began riding in Hot Springs in 2011. Santana also leads all jockeys in purses earnings at this year’s meet ($1,806,368).

He had an Oaklawn-best $2,552,303 in purse earnings in 2014, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization, and has 259 victories overall in Hot Springs.

Corey Nakatani ($1,135,063) is second in purse earnings at this year’s Oaklawn meet and tied for second with Ramon Vazquez in victories (24).

Santana was scheduled to begin a 3-day riding suspension today, stemming from a March 5 incident, but is appealing the stewards’ ruling to the Arkansas Racing Commission, according to his agent Ruben Munoz.

Finish Lines

Joe Rocco Jr. will ride Siding Spring in Saturday’s $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn, trainer Mark Casse said. … Trainer Ignacio Correas said he’s “almost sure” Florent Geroux will ride Idolo Porteno in Saturday’s $350,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn, which will mark the American debut for the Argentine Horse of the Year. … Trainer Rick Violette said Joe Bravo will ride multiple stakes winner and millionaire Upstart in the Razorback. … Casse said Grade I winner Noble Bird, who had been targeting the Razorback and $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 16, won’t run again the meeting. Noble Bird finished sixth in his 2016 debut, Feb. 21 at Oaklawn, and “hasn’t been training great,” Casse said. “I’m going to give him a little break and probably aim for Keeneland,” Casse said. … Casse said Ricardo Santana Jr. will ride Theogony in Saturday’s $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn. Theogony breezed a half-mile in :50 Sunday morning at Oaklawn. … Projected Azeri starter Streamline worked 5 furlongs in 1:05.40 Sunday morning at Oaklawn for trainer Brian Williamson. Another projected Azeri starter, Kiss Moon, worked a half-mile in :49.80 Sunday morning at Oaklawn for trainer David Vance. … Trainer Lynn Whiting said multiple stakes winner Hebbronville (hives) won’t run again at the meeting after finishing last of six in the $100,000 Hot Springs Stakes March 5. “Try a different environment,” Whiting said. “He’ll resurface at some point.” … Trainer Steve Asmussen said the hope is Terra Promessa, romping winner of Saturday’s $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn, will make her next start in the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 9. The Honeybee is the final major local prep for the Fantasy. … Trainer Lon Wiggins next-race plans are pending for Honeybee third-place finisher Cosmic Evolution. … Trainer Ingrid Mason said Marquee Miss, distanced in the Honeybee, is probable for the Fantasy. Mason said Marquee Miss didn’t care for the sloppy track and won’t race on that type of surface again. … Conquest Windycity recorded a 5-furlong bullet in company (1:01) Sunday morning at Oaklawn in preparation for his next scheduled start, the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) March 26 at Fair Grounds. Conquest Windycity was a Feb. 19 allowance winner at Oaklawn in his 3-year-old debut. … The track condition for Saturday’s nine-program at Oaklawn, originally listed muddy, was retroactively changed to sloppy, according to Equibase representative Jeff Taylor.

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