Thursday, October 06, 2016

Oaklawn Stakes Winners Look to Secure a Trip to the Breeders’ Cup

Three major Oaklawn stakes winners are entered on Saturday’s 11-race card at Belmont Park, including Effinex and Hoppertunity in the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1). The 1 ¼-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event for the $6 million Classic (G1) Nov. 5 at Santa Anita.

Effinex, a career winner of $3,047,950, won the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 16 at Oaklawn. Hoppertunity, a career winner of $2,962,675, won the $600,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) in 2014 at Oaklawn.

Hoppertunity was scratched from the $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes (G1) last Saturday at Santa Anita, a race won by California Chrome, the leading candidate for Horse of the Year. He is scheduled to break from post 3 under John Velazquez.

Effinex is scheduled to break from post 5 under Mike Smith. All five projected starters will carry 126 pounds.

Recent Oaklawn-raced horses to win the prestigious Jockey Club Gold Cup include Borrego, Curlin, Summer Bird, Flat Out and Ron the Greek. Curlin won the Rebel, Arkansas Derby and Jockey Club Gold Cup in 2007 en route to Horse of the Year honors.

Another Jockey Club Gold Cup winner, Cigar, was named 1995 Horse of the Year. He also won the 1995 Oaklawn Handicap.

Probable post time for Saturday’s race is 4:23 p.m. (Central).

Also on Saturday’s Belmont card is the $350,000 Kelso Handicap (G2). The mile race features Point Piper and Upstart, third and fifth, respectively, behind Effinex in the Oaklawn Handicap. Upstart won the $350,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) March 19, which was the final major local prep for the Oaklawn Handicap.

Point Piper, in his last start, won the $200,000 Longacres Mile (G3) Aug. 14 at Emerald Downs. He is scheduled to break from post 2 Saturday under Mario Gutierrez and carry 117 pounds. Upstart is scheduled to break from post 6 under Irad Ortiz Jr. and carry 117 pounds.

Probable post time for the Kelso Handicap is 1:28 p.m. (Central).

Phoenix Rising?

A.P. Indian, second in a 2014 allowance/optional claimer at Oaklawn, is the 4-5 program favorite for the $250,000 Phoenix Stakes (G2) Friday at Keeneland.

A.P. Indian, a leading contender for champion male sprinter, was scratched from the $350,000 Vosburgh Stakes (G1) last Saturday at Belmont Park because of a muddy track. The two-time Grade 1 winner this year is scheduled to break from the rail Friday under Joe Bravo and carry top weight of 124 pounds.

Also entered in the 6-furlong Phoenix are Alsvid, Cinco Charlie and W.B. Smudge, the 2-3-7 finishers, respectively, in the $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 10 at Oaklawn.

Alsvid is a career winner of $1,310,618 for Chris Hartman, Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 2015 and runner-up this year. He won last year’s Count Fleet before finishing seventh in the Phoenix (A.P. Indian was sixth). He is also entered in Saturday’s $150,000 Woodford Stakes (G3) at Keeneland as a possible prep for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

Cinco Charlie is scheduled to be ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., Oaklawn’s leading rider the last four years. Hall of Famer and seven-time Oaklawn champion Steve Asmussen trains Cinco Charlie.

Probable post time for the Phoenix is 3:57 p.m. (Central). The race is a "Breeders' Cup “Win and You're In” event for the $1.5 million Sprint (G1) Nov. 5 at Santa Anita.

Sarah Smile

Oaklawn stakes winner Sarah Smile can surpass $1 million in career earnings with a victory in the $250,000 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (G2) Saturday at Keeneland. The 6-furlong race is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In" event in the female sprint division.

Sarah Sis has earned $911,000 for Oklahoma owner Joe Ragsdale and trainer Ingrid Mason, an Oaklawn regular. The 4-year-old filly is coming off her most lucrative career victory in the $400,000 Presque Isle Master Stakes (G2) Sept. 19 at Presque Isle Downs.

Sarah Sis, winner of Oaklawn’s $150,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) last year,  is scheduled to break from post 4 Saturday under Jose Valdivia Jr. and carry equal top weight of 122 pounds.

Also entered in the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes are Oaklawn-raced Meshell and Spelling Again, who trained this year in Hot Springs.

Sarah Sis and Meshell ran second and third, respectively, behind Haveyougoneaway in the $100,000 American Beauty Stakes Jan. 23 at Oaklawn. Haveyougoneaway is pointing for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) Nov. 5 at Santa Anita.

Probable post time for the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes is 3 p.m. (Central).

Finish Lines

Will Munnings, winner of the $100,000 Gazebo Stakes March 26 at Oaklawn, is entered in a conditioned allowance sprint Friday at Keeneland. … Cautious Giant, fourth in the $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 10 at Oaklawn, is entered in the $300,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes (G1) Saturday at Santa Anita. … Big Gray Rocket is entered in the $500,000 Champagne Stakes (G1) for 2-year-olds Saturday at Santa Anita. The son of Tapit is owned by Frank Fletcher of North Little Rock, Ark., and trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. They teamed to win the $100,000 Northern Spur Stakes last year at Oaklawn with Wolf Man Rocket, who broke his maiden in the mile race.

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