Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Oaklawn Stakes Winner Run 1-2 in Jockey Club Gold Cup

Oaklawn stakes winners ran 1-2 in the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (G1) Saturday at Belmont Park, with Hoppertunity edging Effinex by a half-length in the prestigious 1 ¼-mile race.

Hoppertunity is among a record six winners of Oaklawn’s Rebel Stakes (G2) – all since 2010 – for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. He won the 2014 Rebel, then worth $600,000. Effinex won the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 16.

The Jockey Club Gold Cup was a “Win and You’re In” race for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) Nov. 5 at Santa Anita.

Hoppertunity, who was ridden by John Velazquez, ran the distance over a fast track in 2:00.68 and paid $9.60 as the 7-2 third choice. The victory, his sixth in 22 lifetime starts, raised his earnings to $3,562,675. He is campaigned by the familiar partnership of Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman.

Hoppertunity’s victory was another resume-builder for the Rebel, which has become one of the country’s most important Triple Crown prep races.

The average earnings of the last 13 Rebel winners, beginning in 2004 with Smarty Jones, is $3,716,086. Only three winners during that stretch failed to attain millionaire status.

Curlin ($10,501,800), American Pharoah ($8,650,300) and Smarty Jones ($7,613,155) rank Nos. 3, 9 and 15, respectively, among all-time leading earners with at least one start in the United States or Canada, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.

In addition to Curlin, American Pharoah and Smarty Jones, Rebel winners Lawyer Ron, Lookin At Lucky and Will Take Charge also became year-end champions. Curlin won the Rebel and Jockey Club Gold Cup in 2007 en route to Horse of the Year honors.

American Pharoah became the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978 last year. Smarty Jones won the first two legs of the Triple Crown in 2004.

The 2017 Rebel, worth $900,000, is March 18.

Creator Retired

Creator, winner of the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16 at Oaklawn, has been sold to Japanese interests and will begin a stallion career there in 2017, majority owner WinStar Farm announced Thursday night.

Creator, who broke his maiden Feb. 27 at Oaklawn, retires with a 3-4-1 record from 12 lifetime starts and earnings of $1,610,320.

After breaking his maiden, the late-running gray son of Tapit finished third in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 19 at Oaklawn and won the third leg of the Triple Crown, the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1) June 11 at Belmont Park.

Creator was trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, who has topped the standings at Oaklawn seven times since 2007.

Celebrity chef Bobby Flay purchased a minority interest in Creator shortly before the Belmont Stakes.

Joy of Six

Oaklawn-raced A.P. Indian moved to 6 for 6 this year with a nose victory in the $250,000 Phoenix Stakes (G2) Friday at Keeneland. A leading contender for champion male sprinter, A.P. Indian ($2.80) ran 6 furlongs in a track-record 1:08.43 over the fast surface.

The previous record (1:08.58) was set by Runhappy in last year’s $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). Runhappy was named champion male sprinter of 2015.

A.P. Indian, second in an allowance/optional claimer in his 4-year-old debut at the 2014 Oaklawn meeting, is scheduled to make his next start in the $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) Nov. 5 at Santa Anita.

Overall, A.P. Indian has an 11-4-0 record for 17 lifetime starts and earnings of $1,262,434.

Alsvid, winner of Oaklawn’s $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) in 2015, was nosed out for third in the Phoenix.

Finish Lines

Whitmore, unraced since the May 7 Kentucky Derby, worked a half-mile in :49 over a fast track Sunday morning at Churchill Downs for co-owner/trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs. It was the second work back for Whitmore, among the leading 3-year-olds at the 2016 Oaklawn meeting after finishing second in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3), second in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) and third in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1). … Oaklawn maiden winner Front Pocket Money, a 3-year-old Uncle Mo gelding, finished third in the $150,000 Woodford Stakes (G3) Saturday at Keeneland for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. Front Pocket Money won the $100,000 Jersey Shore Stakes (G3) July 23 at Monmouth Park. Oaklawn-raced Hogy was second in the Woodford Stakes. … Trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel, an Oaklawn regular, has 999 career victories at Remington Park, according to the track.

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