Saturday, April 08, 2017

 

Busy Morning for Racing Festival of the South Works

 

A busy day of training on a sunny Saturday morning at Oaklawn included several horses ticketed for stakes races during the final week of the meeting.

 

Petrov worked a half-mile in :50 in advance of next Saturday’s $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) for co-owner/trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs. He has run in Oaklawn’s first three Kentucky Derby prep races, finishing second in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 16 and $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 20 and fourth in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 18.

 

Whitmore, also co-owned and trained by Moquett, worked a half-mile in company in :50.20 in preparation for next Saturday’s $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) for older horses. The Pleasantly Perfect gelding, unbeaten in five career sprint races, won the $125,000 Hot Springs Stakes March 11 in his last start.

 

Tiger Moth worked a half-mile in :48.20 for trainer Brad Cox in advance of Friday’s $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) for older fillies and mares. She ran third in the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 18, the final major local prep for the Apple Blossom.

 

Petrov, Whitmore and Tiger Moth all breezed over a fast surface, just after the track opened for training.

 

Also working before the renovation break was the Cox-trained Benner Island, runner-up in the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies March 11. Benner Island, in company, breezed a half-mile in :49 in preparation for Friday’s $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3).

 

Working just after the renovation break for trainer J.R. Caldwell was Texas Chrome, who covered a half-mile in :48.40 under four-time defending Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr., who will also have mount in the race. The 2016 Texas Horse of the Year is scheduled to make his 4-year-old debut in next Saturday’s $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2).

 

Chief Cicatriz, a candidate for the Count Fleet, worked just after the track opened for trainer Shawn Davis. The horse, who suffered his first career loss with a sixth-place finish in the Hot Springs, covered 5 furlongs in 1:00 under Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel.

 

Another Count Fleet candidate, Wabel, worked just after renovation break for Cox and owner Staton Flurry of Hot Springs. Wabel was credited with a half-mile in :48.80. He was a March 23 allowance/optional claiming winner.

 

 

The Great Race

 

A triple Friday catapulted four-time defending Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. into the outright lead with six days remaining in the meeting.

 

Santana won the second race aboard favored All Aboard ($3.20) for Moquett, fifth race aboard favored I Am Miss Brown ($8) for trainer J.R. Caldwell and sixth race aboard favored The Gipper ($5.60) for trainer Brad Cox.

 

In a tight race for the riding title, Santana leads Ramon Vazquez 44-43, with Geovanni Franco (41) and Alex Canchari (40) completing the top four.

 

Vazquez, Franco and Canchari all recorded one victory on Friday’s nine-race card.

 

Franco won the seventh race aboard favored Half Dome Dude ($3.60) for trainer Robertino Diodoro. Canchari won the eighth race aboard favored Recount ($4.40) for trainer Jimmy DiVito. Vazquez won the ninth race aboard Dreamin ($31.40) for trainer Federico Villafranco.

 

Vazquez entered Friday with a 42-41 lead over Santana. Franco (40) and Canchari (39) were third and fourth.

 

Finish Lines

 

Favored All Aboard ($3.20) represented the 599th career winner for trainer Moquett in Friday’s second race, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Moquett, who saddled his first winner in 1998, recorded his 500th career victory Feb. 6, 2015, at Oaklawn with Heykittykittykitty. Moquett has 196 career victories at Oaklawn, according to Equibase. He is Oaklawn’s co-fifth-leading trainer this year with 18 victories. … Chris Hartman, Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 2015, also has 18 victories at the meeting after a double Friday. Hartman won the first race with favored Fiesta ($7.20) and third race with favored Hold the Door ($4.80). …. Seven-time Oaklawn training champion Steve Asmussen has a meet-high 32 victories, five more than runner-up Robertino Diodoro. … Danny Caldwell is nearing his fourth consecutive owner’s title with 21 victories. Mike Watters is second with 10. … Betting favorites won 7 of 9 races Friday. … Oaklawn will race four days next (Wednesday-Saturday) to close the 57-day meeting. Racing begins Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. (Central).

 

 

-30-