Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Oaklawn Stakes Winners Prepare for Breeders’ Cup Classic and Distaff

Tri-Bone Stables’ Oaklawn Handicap Effinex will be seeking to become the third straight Oaklawn-raced horse to win the $6 Breeders’ Cup Classic as he faces the likes of 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome and record-setting Travers Stakes winner Arrogate in Saturday’s race. He drew the rail and was installed at odds of 15-1 despite the fact he had finished second in the race last year behind Arkansas Derby and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

Bayern, who had finished third in the Arkansas Derby, won the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Effinex breezed a half mile in 49 1/5 at Santa Anita Monday morning.

“It was good; it was all we were looking for,” trainer James Jerkens said. “He just ran in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (Oct. 8) and he had a nice work at Belmont before we left, so we weren’t looking for anything too much.”

Also representing Oaklawn in the Breeders’ Cup Classic are 2016 Oaklawn Handicap runner-up Melatonin, who drew post 6 and is listed at 12-1 on the morning line and 2014 Rebel Stakes winner Hoppertunity, who will break from post 9 and is listed at 15-1 on the morning line.

Apple Blossom Handicap winner Forever Unbridled, like Effinex, has several top horses to defeat in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff as she will be facing champions Beholder, Songbird and Stellar Wind in Friday’s race. She drew post 6 and is listed at 12-1 on the morning line.

“She’s tough and she fits right with them here,” trainer Dallas Stewart said. “I don’t think she’s overmatched. I think Songbird is going to have to get running early from the rail and Beholder is live and has to get position. Our filly will be sitting in the second flight and Rosario has been riding her and knows her, so we’ll just take it from there.

“We’ve mapped out this year and it’s worked out well,” he continued. “I think we left a little bit on the table at Belmont (in the Ogden Phipps) where she should have won, but she got in trouble. You have to take the good with bad.”

Lukas Heads into Oaklawn with Promising Juvenile Warrior’s Club

Warrior’s Club earned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 77 for his front-running 2 ¾-length victory in the inaugural $300,000 Spendthrift Stallion Stakes Sunday at Churchill Downs. The 7-furlong race, open to 2-year-olds sired by any active Spendthrift Farm stallion, including all Spendthrift-owned stallions standing regionally, was part of Churchill’s annual Stars of Tomorrow card.

All 10 races on the program were for 2-year-olds.

Warrior’s Club, racing in blinkers for the first time, is by Warrior’s Reward and trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, who annually winters in Hot Springs. The colt, who paid $13.60, ran 7 furlongs over a fast track in 1:23.21 under Miguel Mena.

Lawton, trained by Oaklawn regular Randy Morse, finished third in the Spendthrift Stallion Stakes.

In other Stars of Tomorrow races, St. Louie Guy (by Kantharos) was a first-level allowance/optional claiming sprint winner for the familiar Oaklawn connections of jockey Chris Landeros, trainer Scott Becker and owner William Stiritz.

St. Louie Guy, who beat the Lukas-trained Saratoga maiden winner Blame Will by 1 ½ lengths, ran 6 furlongs over a fast track in 1:10.63. He received a preliminary 70 Beyer Speed Figure.

Landeros was among Oaklawn’s top 10 riders this year with 23 victories.

Brad Cox, Oaklawn’s fourth-leading trainer in 2016 with 23 victories, saddled two winners on the Stars of Tomorrow card in Cowboy Culture ($14.40) and Clever Girl ($19.20). Both were first-time starters won on the grass.

Chris Hartman, Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 2015 and runner-up this year, ran second in the $80,000 Street Sense Stakes with Balandeen, a son of Bernardini. Balandeen’s dam, Mama Kimbo, in her second lifetime start, won Oaklawn’s $300,000 Fantasy Stakes (G2) in 2012 for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Five of a Kind

Ramon Vazquez, Oaklawn’s second-leading rider the last two years, rode five winners for five different trainers Saturday night at Remington Park.

Vazquez won the second race aboard favored Compose ($2.80) for trainer Andy Gladd, third race aboard We’ve Got to Talk ($13.40) for trainer Joe Merrick, fourth race aboard Ruby Sioux ($18.60) for trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel, fifth race aboard favored Choir Director ($3.20) for trainer Federico Villafranco and the ninth race aboard favored Go Stealth ($5) for trainer Scott Young.

Vazquez is the go-to rider for Villafranco and Danny Caldwell, Oaklawn’s leading owner the last three years.

Vazquez rode five winners twice at the 2015 Oaklawn meeting (Jan. 25 and April 9) and finished with 51 victories, two less than champion Ricardo Santana Jr.  He rode 42 winners this year at Oaklawn. Santana had 80 victories to collect his fourth consecutive Oaklawn title.

Retired Hall of Famer Pat Day and Larry Snyder, now an Oaklawn steward, share the single-day Oaklawn record for victories by a jockey with six.

Finish Lines

Whitmore, unraced since the May 7 Kentucky Derby, worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.80 over a fast track Sunday morning at Churchill Downs for trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs. It was the 19th-fastest of 42 times recorded at the distance and the fifth work back for Whitmore (all since Oct. 2), who was among the leading 3-year-olds at the 2016 Oaklawn meeting. Whitmore finished second in Oaklawn’s $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3), second in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) and third in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1). … Even-money favorite Noble Bird, an allowance/optional claiming winner at the 2015 Oaklawn meeting, set a track record for 1 1/8 miles in winning the $200,000 Fayette Stakes (G2) by 5 ¾ front-running lengths Saturday at Keeneland. Noble Bird ran the distance over a fast track in 1:47.75 to earn a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 106. Noble Bird ran sixth in a Feb. 21 allowance/optional claimer at Oaklawn, his 2016 debut. Noble Bird surpassed $1 million in career earnings with Saturday’s victory. … Oaklawn regular Mike Lauer led all trainers in purse earnings ($1,303,406) at the Indiana Grand meeting that concluded Saturday. Lauer, the only trainer at the meet to eclipse $1 million in purse earnings, was second in races won (38) to Tom Amoss. Lauer won two races this year at Oaklawn. Brad Cox, Oaklawn’s fourth-leading trainer this year, won 33 races to finish fifth at Indiana Grand. Another Oaklawn training regular, Paul Holthus of Hot Springs, was seventh with 29 victories. Genario Garcia, who had one victory this year at Oaklawn, was Indiana Grand’s third-leading trainer with 36 victories. … Oaklawn’s stable area opens Nov. 14 in advance of the 2017 meeting that begins Jan. 13. The track opens for training Nov. 21.

 

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