Thursday, April 27, 2017

 

Two Oaklawn Fillies Pointing Toward Kentucky Oaks

 

It appears two Oaklawn-raced horses will start in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) for 3-year-old fillies May 5 at Churchill Downs. Among the 14 horses expected for the 1 1/8-mile race are Ever So Clever and Vexatious, first and third, respectively, in the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 14 at Oaklawn.

 

Trained by Hall of Famer and eight-time Oaklawn leading trainer Steve Asmussen, Ever So Clever ran fifth in the $125,000 Martha Washington Stakes Feb. 11 and $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 11, the two major local two-turn preps for the Fantasy. She won the Fantasy by 1 ¾ lengths under Luis Contreras, who finished fifth Oaklawn’s jockey standings this year. He is scheduled to ride the daughter of 2003 Oaklawn Handicap winner Medaglia d’Oro in the Kentucky Oaks.

 

Vexatious was beaten two lengths in the 1 1/16-mile Fantasy after being bumped in the upper stretch and altering course late under Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, who is scheduled to ride the daughter of Giant’s Causeway in the Kentucky Oaks. The filly races for Calumet Farm and Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale. Drysdale captured the Fantasy and Kentucky Oaks in 1980 with Bold ’n Determined, who won 16 of 20 career starts and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1997.

 

Trainer Lynn Chleborad informed Churchill officials that Martha Washington winner and Fantasy runner-up Chanel’s Legacy “will be given time off” and pass the Kentucky Oaks. Immediately following the Fantasy, Chleboard said Chanel’s Legacy was under consideration for the Kentucky Oaks, but noted she has run five times this year (all stakes races at Oaklawn). The filly had the necessary points to the run in the Kentucky Oaks, which is limited to 14 starters. Post positions will be drawn Tuesday.

 

Hall of Fame

 

The late Garrett Gomez, who rode 10 stakes winners during the 1994 Oaklawn meeting, including Concern in the $500,000 Arkansas Derby (G2), has been elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, it was announced Monday.  He rode regularly at Oaklawn in 1990-1995 and finished with 326 victories, including 21 stakes, in Hot Springs.

 

A two-time Eclipse Award winner for outstanding jockey (2007 and 2008), Gomez died in December at the age of 44. He amassed 3,769 victories and $205,224,899 in purse earnings during his North American career, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.

 

The jockey’s last Oaklawn stakes victory was aboard champion Lookin At Lucky in the $300,000 Rebel (G2) for 3-year-olds in 2010. His last mount in Hot Springs was in 2013, the same year in stopped riding.

 

Gomez, who attended school in the Hot Springs area as a teenager, will be inducted Aug. 4 in Saratoga Springs, New York.

 

Two-time Oaklawn riding champion Robby Albarado was a Hall of Fame finalist this year. Albarado was Oaklawn’s leading rider in 1996 and 1997.

 

Court’s Journey

 

Jon Court, Oaklawn’s leading rider in 2000, will begin the Churchill Downs spring/summer meet with $99,858,939 in purse earnings during his North American career, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. The Churchill spring/summer meet opens Saturday.

 

Court, 56, hasn’t ridden since April 15 at Oaklawn, where he finished with 27 victories to rank seventh in the standings. His $1,106,227 in purse earnings at the meet moved him closer to becoming just the 50th jockey in North American history to reach $100 million for a career.

 

Court ranks 70th in North American history in victories (4,027).

 

Court rode his first winner in 1980 and has 642 career victories at Oaklawn since 1981.

 

Opening Night

 

Conquest Wildcat and Silver Bullion, second and third, respectively, in the $150,000 Bachelor Stakes April 13 at Oaklawn, are entered in the $100,000 William Walker Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters Saturday at Churchill Downs.

 

Probable post time for the 6-furlong William Walker, which headlines the first day of Churchill’s spring/summer meeting, is 9:11 p.m. (Central).

 

Also on the 11-race card is the $65,000 Roxelana Overnight Stakes for female sprinters.

 

The 6-furlong Roxelana has a heavy Oaklawn influence, including 2017 stakes winners Athena ($125,000 American Beauty Jan. 28) and Kathballu ($125,000 Spring Fever March 4). Athena is the defending Roxelana champion.


Also entered are Oaklawn winners Finley’sluckycharm, Pleasant Tales and Maziette. A half-sister to Petrov, among Oaklawn’s leading Kentucky Derby candidates this year, Maziette was bred last Saturday to Flatter, said John H. Mulholland, who co-owns the 5-year-old daughter of Candy Ride.

 

Flatter is the sire of Petrov, who finished second in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes and $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) this year at Oaklawn. Maziette had been bred earlier this spring to Flatter, but didn’t get in foal, Mulholland said. She was scratched from last Saturday’s $100,000 Sugar Maple Stakes at Charles Town.

 

Probable post time for the Roxelana is 6:26 p.m. (Central).

 

Finish Lines

 

Arkansas-bred star and multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Weast Hill is the 7-5 program favorite for an allowance/optional claiming sprint Friday at Indiana Grand. Weast Hill will be making his first start since prominent Arkansas automobile dealer Steve Landers privately purchased the gelding following a sixth-place finish in the $100,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes April 8 at Oaklawn. Weast Hill remained with Brad Cox, Oaklawn’s third-leading trainer this year. …Hall of Famer Mike Smith will ride Uncontested in the $250,000 Pat Day Mile (G3) for 3-year-olds May 6 at Churchill Downs, co-owner Harry Rosenblum said. Uncontested won the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 16 at Oaklawn, setting records for final time (1:36.32) and margin of victory (5 ¼ lengths) in the mile race. … Our Majesty, a powerful Feb. 10 career debut winner at Oaklawn, easily cleared her first allowance condition last Friday at Keeneland. Our Majesty has crossed the wire first in all three career starts, but was disqualified and placed fourth for backstretch interference in the $150,000 Purple Martin Stakes for 3-year-old filly sprinters March 25 at Oaklawn. … Hailstorm Slew, a Jan. 19 allowance/optional claiming winner at Oaklawn, won the $55,000 Great Lady M. Stakes for Oklahoma-bred female sprinters Monday at Will Rogers Downs. …Someday Soon, an impressive Feb. 12 allowance/optional claiming winner at Oaklawn, is pointing for the $75,000 Tomboy Stakes May 14 at Belterra, trainer Will VanMeter said. The Tomboy is a 1 1/16-mile grass race restricted to 3-year-old Ohio-bred fillies. Following her Feb. 12 victory, Someday Soon ran eighth in the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 11 at Oaklawn and third in the $500,000 Ashland Stakes (G1) April 8 at Keeneland. … Oaklawn winners Chief Know It All, Smokin Now, Reckling and Get That Box are entered in the $65,000 Golden Circle Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters Friday at Prairie Meadows.

 

 

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