Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Three Oaklawn-Raced Horses Pointing Toward Belmont

Three Oaklawn-raced horses are under consideration for the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes June 11 at Belmont Park, including Cherry Wine, runner-up in Saturday’s Preakness.

Cherry Wine closed from far back to edge previously unbeaten Nyquist by a nose in the Preakness, the second leg of the Triple Crown. He finished 3 ½ lengths behind Exaggerator, who had finished second to Nyquist in the Kentucky Derby. Cherry Wine, who didn’t run in the Kentucky Derby, was fourth in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 19 at Oaklawn.

Arkansas Derby runner-up Suddenbreakingnews worked 5 furlongs in 1:00.60 Monday at Churchill Downs in preparation for the Belmont. Earlier in the meet, he won Oaklawn’s $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 15 before running fifth in the Rebel and Kentucky Derby.

Arkansas Derby winner Creator worked 5 furlongs in 1:02 Monday at Churchill Downs for a possible start in the Belmont. He finished third in the Rebel and a troubled 13th in the Kentucky Derby.

The 1 ½-mile Belmont is the final leg of the Triple Crown.

Preakness Day Rewind

Counterforce, who made his first three career starts at Oaklawn, finished second in the $100,000 Chick Lang Stakes Saturday at Pimlico. He was coming off a two-length victory in the $150,000 Bachelor Stakes April 15 at Oaklawn.

Dazzling Gem finished third in Saturday’s $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico. It was the colt’s first start since finishing fourth in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16 at Oaklawn. Fifth-place Arkansas Derby finisher Gettysburg was scratched from the Sir Barton.

Conquest Windycity, a Feb. 19 entry-level allowance winner at Oaklawn, ran third in the $100,000 James W. Murphy Stakes Saturday at Pimlico.

Flying High

Noble Bird, sixth in his 2016 debut at Oaklawn, won the $300,000 Pimlico Special (G3) for older horses Friday at Pimlico by 11 ¼ lengths under Julien Leparoux.

Noble Bird won an allowance/optional claiming race at the 2015 Oaklawn meeting, then the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs three starts later.

Trainer Mark Casse had said the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 16 at Oaklawn was Noble Bird’s first major objective this year. But, the son of Birdstone was withdrawn from consideration after finishing sixth in a Feb. 21 allowance/optional claimer at Oaklawn and not training as sharply as Casse had hoped in subsequent weeks.

Argentine Horse of the Year Idolo Porteno finished a distant second in the Pimlico Special. Idolo Porteno wintered at Oaklawn and finished third in the $350,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) March 19 in his American debut.

Later on Friday’s card at Pimlico, Theogony finished second in the $150,000 Allaire DuPont Distaff Stakes (G3) for fillies and mares. The Casse-trained Theogony wintered at Oaklawn, finishing second in the $100,000 Pippin Stakes Jan. 17.

In the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) for 3-year-old fillies Friday at Pimlico, Ma Can Do It, a maiden, ran second and Dothraki Queen finished fourth. Ma Can Do It finished eighth in her 3-year-old debut March 20 at Oaklawn. She was the 4-5 favorite in the maiden-allowance event. Dothraki Queen wintered at Oaklawn, but didn’t start at the meeting.

Dothraki Queen (third) and Ma Can Do It (fifth) also ran in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) Oct. 31 at Keeneland.

Breaking the Ice

Will VanMeter, whose first career training victory was at Oaklawn, recorded his first stakes victory when Arkansas-bred Trace Creek won Saturday’s $100,000 Hanshin Cup (G3) at Arlington Park.

Trace Creek, who paid $90.40, wintered in Hot Springs, finishing sixth against open company in a March 13 allowance race and fourth against state-breds in the $100,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes April 1. He had moved to VanMeter’s barn after the 2015 Oaklawn meeting where he won the Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes.

Trace Creek, a 6-year-old son of Harperstown, races for his breeder, John Ed Anthony of Hot Springs, one of the most successful owners in Oaklawn history.

VanMeter saddled his first career winner March 14, 2014, at Oaklawn (Pearl Turn) and won another race at this year’s meeting. Trace Creek, who was ridden in the Hanshin Cup by Oaklawn regular Julio Felix, was VanMeter’s 11th career victory.

Finish Lines

Cupid, winner of the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 19 at Oaklawn, recorded a 5-furlong bullet (:59.20) Monday at Churchill Downs. He is under consideration for the Easy Goer Stakes at 1 1/16-miles on the Belmont undercard … Multiple stakes-winning sprinter Ivan Fallunovalot is rejoining Tom Howard’s stable at Lone Star after being turned out for approximately a month because of a quarter-crack, according to the trainer’s wife/assistant, Kathy Howard of Hot Springs. Ivan Fallunovalot hasn’t started since winning the $100,000 King Cotton Stakes Jan. 30 at Oaklawn. The gelding had been turned out at owner Lewis Mathews’ farm just south of Hot Springs. … Subtle Indian, the only four-time winner at this year’s Oaklawn meeting, finished second in the $200,000 Kona Gold Stakes (G2) Saturday at Santa Anita. Cautious Giant finished third in the Kona Gold. Subtle Indian and Cautious Giant finished first and fourth, respectively, in the $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 10 at Oaklawn. … Alex Canchari, Oaklawn’s third-leading rider this year, tops the standings in victories (five) and purse earnings ($154,554) after the first weekend of racing at Canterbury Park in suburban Minneapolis. Geovanni Franco (four) is tied for second in victories and is second in purse earnings ($117,088). Franco finished 11th in the Oaklawn standings, his first season in Hot Springs. Canchari and Franco won three of Canterbury’s four stakes races last weekend. … Channing Hill, Oaklawn’s fourth-leading jockey this year, has 992 career victories, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.

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