Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Seven Oaklawn Runners Remain Under Consideration for the Kentucky Derby
Seven Oaklawn-raced horses, including four now in the main body, remained under consideration Tuesday morning for the $2 million Kentucky Derby (G1) May 6 at Churchill Downs. The Kentucky Derby is limited to 20 starters, with points awarded in 35 designated races determining starting preference if the race oversubscribes.
Oaklawn-raced horses in the top 20 are No. 2 Classic Empire (132 points), No. 13 Malagacy (50), No. 14 Hence (50) and No. 20 Untrapped (34). On the bubble as of Tuesday morning were No. 21 Lookin At Lee (32), No. 22 Sonneteer (30) and No. 23 Royal Mo (30).
Classic Empire, the country’s champion 2-year-old male, won the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 15. Malagacy ran fifth in the Arkansas Derby after being previously unbeaten in three career starts. He won the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 18, the final major local prep for the Arkansas Derby.
Hence broke his maiden Jan. 16 at Oaklawn before winning the $800,000 Sunland Derby (G3) March 26 at Sunland Park. After breaking his maiden, Hence remained at Oaklawn and ran seventh in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 20. Untrapped finished third in the Rebel and sixth in the Arkansas Derby. Lookin At Lee, made three starts at Oaklawn, finishing third in the Southwest, sixth in the Rebel and third in the Arkansas Derby. Hence, Untrapped and Lookin At Lee are trained by Hall of Famer and eight-time Oaklawn champion Steve Asmussen.
Sonneteer, a 10-race maiden, ran second in the Rebel and fourth in the Arkansas Derby for Calumet Farm and trainer Keith Desormeaux. Royal Mo ran ninth in the Rebel for trainer John Shirreffs.
The post position draw for the Kentucky Derby is May 3.
Firing a Bullet
Uncontested, record-setting winner of the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes for 3-year-olds Jan. 16 at Oaklawn, recorded a 5-furlong bullet workout (:58.20) Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs.
Co-owner Harry Rosenblum said Uncontested is still being pointed for the $250,000 Pat Day Mile (G3) May 6 at Churchill Downs. He will be returning to a one-turn race after finishing sixth in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 20 and eighth in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 18.
The Smarty Jones, Southwest and Rebel were the three major local preps for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 15.
Also expected for the Pat Day Mile is unbeaten late Triple Crown nominee Rapid Dial, who was for 2 for 2 at the Oaklawn meeting for co-owner/trainer Ingrid Mason.
Senior Investment will be pointed for the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes (G1) May 20 at Pimlico following his victory in the $200,000 Lexington Stakes (G3) April 15 at Keeneland, trainer Kenny McPeek said.
Senior Investment, a son of Discreetly Mine, was a sharp three-length winner of a first-level allowance/optional claimer Feb. 18 at Oaklawn.
McPeek said Blueridge Traveler, who was under consideration for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) last Saturday at Oaklawn, is being freshened. He broke his maiden Feb. 20 at Oaklawn before finishing second in the $500,000 Spiral Stakes (G3) March 25 at Turfway Park.
Ready, Set, Go
Sagamore Farm’s Recruiting Ready earned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 95, a career high, for his powerful victory in the $150,000 Bachelor Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters April 13.
From the first crop of unbeaten Grade 3 winner Algorithms, Recruiting Ready was a front-running 5 ¼-length winner under Horacio Karamanos, covering 6 furlongs over a fast track in 1:09.09. It was the second-fastest winning time and third-largest margin of victory in Bachelor history.
“He ran well,” trainer Horacio DePaz said following his first career stakes victory.
DePaz said the Maryland-based Recruiting Ready will be pointed to the $200,000 Chick Lang Stakes May 20 at Pimlico. Historic Sagamore Farm, just north of Baltimore, is owned by Maryland native Kevin Plank, CEO of apparel giant Under Armour. Pimlico is located in Baltimore.
“Definitely,” DePaz said, referring to the Chick Lang, “especially since it’s in Baltimore and Kevin being there. It’s a big day for him.”
Recruiting Ready raised his earnings to $188,765 following his first stakes victory. He has a 3-1-2 record from eight starts overall
“Hard beats last year,” DePaz said.
Recruiting Ready, DePaz’s first Oaklawn starter, was beaten three-quarters of a length by Classic Empire in the $100,000 Bashford Manor Stakes (G3) July 2 at Churchill Downs and a length by Gunnevera in the $200,000 Saratoga Special (G2) Aug. 14 at Saratoga.
Recruiting Ready was disqualified from second and placed fourth for interference in the Saratoga Special.
Nine of the 14 starters from last year’s $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds have returned to win at least once this year. The 1 1/16-mile Southwest is Oaklawn’s second of four major Kentucky Derby prep races.
Whitmore, American Dubai and Collected, second, third and fourth, respectively, have combined to win five stakes races in 2017 and are 9 of 10 overall. Whitmore was 3 for 3 at the Oaklawn meeting, including the $125,000 Hot Springs Stakes March 11 and $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 15.
American Dubai has won his last four starts, including the $150,000 Sunland Park Handicap April 16 at Sunland Park. Collected, who was the 5-2 betting favorite in the Southwest, is 2 for 2 this year for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. He won the $75,000 Santana Mile Stakes April 1 at Santa Anita and Saturday’s $200,000 Californian Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita.
Other Southwest starters to win races this year are Siding Spring (fifth), Synchrony (sixth), Gordy Florida (10th), Bird of Trey (11th), Luna de Loco (13th) and Torrontes (14th).
Gordy Florida and Luna de Loco were both winners at Oaklawn, the latter claimed for $50,000 out of a fourth-place finish in an April 15 allowance/optional claiming sprint.
Four of a Kind
Thomas Julian’s Abbaa became Oaklawn’s only four-time winner during the season with a half-length victory in the fourth race closing day, a second-level allowance/optional claimer for older sprinters.
Abbaa won his final three starts for trainer Johnny Ortiz, who claimed the 6-year-old Songandaprayer gelding for $35,000 out of a ninth-place finish Feb. 5. He subsequently won for a $20,000 claiming tag March 2, a $45,000 claiming tag March 18 and a $50,000 claiming tag April 15.
“I figured $35,000 was a premium,” Ortiz said. “I wasn’t expecting him to run as bad as he did that day, so I kind of got a little worried. March 2, when I put him in for $20,000, I was worried I was going lose him then. But obviously, after running such a bad race on Feb. 5, I was actually lucky to sneak one by them. That’s what it was. I snuck one by.”
Ortiz was already intimately familiar with Abbaa because the gelding began his racing career with trainer Kellyn Gorder. Ortiz was Gorder’s assistant before going out on his own last year.
“He’s been on my watch, just because I’ve always followed him,” Ortiz said of Abbaa. “We loved this horse. We used to train him off of Kellyn’s farm. He’s just a neat little horse. I used to ride him all the time.”
Regarding Abbaa’s future, Ortiz said he’ll shop for allowance spots at the upcoming Churchill Downs spring/summer meet and minor stakes across the country. Overall, he has finished first, second or third in 15 of 24 career starts and earned $239,865. Abbaa bankrolled $135,375 this year at Oaklawn after winning 4 of 5 starts.
Abbaa, who has changed hands several times the last 18 months, won his other race at the meet for a $25,000 claiming price Jan. 21 for trainer Chris Richard.
Recount, an April 7 allowance winner at Oaklawn, won the $40,000 Robert S. Molaro Handicap Saturday at Hawthorne. A multiple stakes-winning sprinter, Recount wintered in Hot Springs and ran second in the $125,000 King Cotton Stakes Feb. 4. … March 18 Oaklawn maiden special weights graduate Sameeha, a 3-year-old Street Cry filly, cleared her first allowance condition Sunday at Keeneland in her turf debut. Sameeha, 2 for 2 around two turns, races for owner/breeder Shadwell Stable and trainer Dan Peitz, an Oaklawn regular. … Noble Freud, a sharp Feb. 16 career debut winner at Oaklawn for trainer Jinks Fires of Hot Springs, finished second in the $100,000 New York Stallion Stakes for 3-year-old filly sprinters Saturday at Aqueduct. Noble Freud was making her first start since Head of Plains Partners LLC (Sol Kumin) privately purchased an interest in the daughter of Freud following the debut victory and she was transferred to 2016 Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown. Saturday’s 6 ½-furlong race was restricted to New York-breds… Didiel Osorio resumed riding Friday at Keeneland after being cleared by doctors April 12, according to agent, Joe Santos. Osorio won five races this year at Oaklawn before suffering hairline fractures of two vertebrae (T5 and T7), Santos said, in a March 2 spill. … Trainer Mike Johnson, an Oaklawn regular, said he has received four horses previously with trainer Lynn Whiting before his death April 19. All four, Johnson said, are owned by Oaklawn President Charles Cella. Johnson has a long relationship with Cella, highlighted by Drogue’s victory in the $100,000 Fifth Season Stakes in 2014 at Oaklawn. Johnson already had Drogue’s 3-year-old unstarted half-brother, Chigger Bite, for Cella. Another horse previously with Whiting, multiple stakes winner Hebbronville, has been transferred to trainer Steve Hobby of Hot Springs. Johnson and Hobby are now based at Churchill Downs. Arkansas-bred star Weast Hill was purchased privately by Steve Landers following a sixth-place in the $100,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes April 8 at Oaklawn, trainer Brad Cox said. A 5-year-old Rockport Harbor gelding, Weast Hill made his first 13 career starts for owner/breeder Starsky Weast of Star City, Ark., winning eight races, including three stakes at Oaklawn, and earning $391,710. Weast Hill won his first seven career starts at Oaklawn before finishing second in the $100,000 Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes Feb. 25. Cox, who has trained Weast Hill throughout his career, said the gelding will be pointed toward an allowance race at Indiana Grand. Landers, a prominent Arkansas automobile dealer and a member of the Arkansas Racing Commission, won seven races at this year’s Oaklawn meet to tie for 10th in the standings. … Cox said Five O One, winner of the $100,000 Rainbow Stakes for 3-year-old Arkansas-bred colts and geldings March 31, is being turned out after making three starts at the meeting. … Trainer Tim Martin said he has nothing specific in mind for Racer, who won the Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes and Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes at the meeting. Racer will be based this summer at Prairie Meadows. … Katie Clawson, Oaklawn’s leading apprentice this year with eight victories, will ride this spring and summer at Indiana Grand and Churchill Downs, according to her agent in Hot Springs, “Big Steve” Krajcir.