Saturday, April 01, 2017

 

Whitmore Works towards Count Fleet

 

Whitmore moved closer to a scheduled start in the $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) for older horses April 15 at Oaklawn with a 5-furlong work in company just after the track opened Saturday morning. He covered the distance over a fast track in 1:00.40 in advance of the 6-furlong Count Fleet, which will be the gelding’s first start in a graded sprint stake.

 

Whitmore is unbeaten in five career sprint starts, the last coming in the $125,000 Hot Springs Stakes March 11. The Hot Springs was Whitmore’s first start in a sprint stake. He ran the fastest 6 furlongs in ever in January at Oaklawn (1:08.81) in an allowance/optional claimer, which marked his 2017 debut.

 

Whitmore is trained by Ron Moquett of Hot Springs, who had owned the 4-year-old Pleasantly Perfect gelding in partnership with Robert LaPenta and Harry Rosenblum. Rosenblum, a Little Rock, Ark., businessman, said Friday afternoon that he has sold his interest in Whitmore to Sol Kumin.

 

“Wish them the best,” Rosenblum said.

 

Kumin, who has campaigned Breeders’ Cup winners Lady Eli and Wavell Avenue and Preakness champion Exaggerator, also bought a 25-percent interest in the Moquett-trained Petrov, who is scheduled to make his next start in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 15, before his fourth-place finish in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 18, the trainer said.

 

Moquett said four-time defending Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. will have the mount on Whitmore for the Count Fleet.

 

Whitmore has a 5-2-1 record from 10 lifetime starts and earnings of $637,000.

 

Milestone for Lukas

 

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas recorded his 300th career Oaklawn victory in Friday’s ninth race, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. He reached the milestone when favored Never Hungover ($6.80) won a maiden-allowance sprint for 3-year-old fillies under Alex Birzer.

 

Lukas, 81, was represented by his first Oaklawn starter April 13, 1983, in Miss Huntington, who won the $250,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) for older fillies and mares.

 

Lukas has 47 career Oaklawn stakes victories and was the track’s leading trainer in 1987 and 2011. He entered the 2017 meeting with 292 career victories in Hot Springs.

 

“I told some people the other day, I’m (81) years old and I quit working on my resume a long time ago,” Lukas said with a laugh.

 

Lukas was inducted in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1999 and is a four-time Eclipse Award winner for outstanding trainer (1985, 1986, 1987 and 1994). He also received an Eclipse Award of Merit in 2014 for lifetime achievement.

 

Lukas has trained 24 Eclipse Award winners, won a record 14 Triple Crown races and ranks second in career North American purse earnings ($275,942,208) and seventh in victories (4,777), according to Equibase.

 

Lukas also won Oaklawn’s final race in January when Dilettante broke his maiden under Ramon Vazquez.

 

Dilettante is a candidate for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 15 at Oaklawn, Lukas said.

 

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen recorded his 500th career Oaklawn victory Jan. 16.

 

The Works

 

Multiple graded stakes winner Texas Chrome registered a 5-furlong bullet workout (:59.60) after the renovation break Saturday morning for trainer J.R Caldwell, who is pointing the 4-year-old Grasshopper colt for the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 15. Breezing with defending Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. aboard, he galloped out 6 furlongs in 1:12.20, according to clockers.

 

Texas Chrome has worked the last four Saturdays in preparation for the Oaklawn Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile race that will mark the 4-year-old debut of the reigning Texas Horse of the Year. He hasn’t started since a ninth-place finish in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) Nov. 4 at Santa Anita.

 

Texas Chrome began his 3-year-old campaign with a third-place finish in the $150,000 Bachelor Stakes last April at Oaklawn before winning the $400,000 Super Derby (G3) Sept. 10 at Louisiana Downs and the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby (G3) Sept. 25 at Remington Park.

 

Benner Island worked 5 furlongs in 1:00.40 Saturday morning for trainer Brad Cox in advance of the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies April 14. Benner Island ran second in the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 11.

 

Fantasy candidate Someday Soon worked 6 furlongs in 1:13.20 just after the track opened Saturday morning for trainer Will VanMeter.

 

The Cox-trained Tiger Moth, a candidate for the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) for older fillies and mares April 14, worked 5 furlongs in 1:00.40 Saturday morning.

 

Athena, worked a half-mile in :49.20 Saturday morning for trainer Helen Pitts. Athena won the $125,000 American Beauty Stakes Jan. 28 in her last start.

 

Finish Lines

 

Nominations for the Arkansas Derby, Oaklawn Handicap, Apple Blossom Handicap, Count Fleet Sprint Handicap and Fantasy Stakes closed Friday. … Ricardo Santana Jr. recorded a riding triple Friday to pull within 39-38 of Geovanni Franco for leading rider. Santana, Oaklawn’s four-time defending riding champion, won the third race aboard favored Double Ours ($3.60) for trainer J.R. Caldwell, seventh race aboard favored American Holiday ($6.40) for trainer Brad Cox and eighth race, the $100,000 Rainbow Stakes, aboard favored Five O One ($3) for Cox. Ramon Vazquez (37 victories) and Alex Canchari (34) are third and fourth in the standings. Canchari will resume riding Saturday after missing Thursday and Friday with a non-racing injury, state steward Stan Bowker said. … Alex Birzer rode two winners Friday to increase his career North American total to 3,008. Birzer won the first race aboard favored Itasca Falls ($6.80) for trainer Gene Jacquot and ninth race aboard favored Never Hungover ($6.80) for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Birzer recorded his 3,000th career North American victory Feb. 26 at Oaklawn. He is Oaklawn’s fifth-leading rider this year with 25 victories. ... Favorites won seven of Friday’s nine races. … Mallard’s Bro remains on schedule for the $100,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes April 8, trainer Al Cates of Hot Springs said Friday morning. Mallard’s Bro won the 1 1/16-mile race, which is restricted to Arkansas-breds, in 2014 and was second last year. Defending champion Weast Hill is also pointing for the Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes, Cox said. … Multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Far Right won’t run at the meeting, owner Harry Rosenblum said Friday afternoon. Unraced since August, Far Right has recorded a half-dozen workouts at Oaklawn since Feb. 17, including 5 furlongs in 1:01.20 Friday morning. Rosenblum said Far Right and Gentlemen’s Bet, another Oaklawn stakes winner, should resurface in the next few weeks in Kentucky. Both horses are trained by Wayne Catalano.

 

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