Ivan Fallunovalot Back at Oaklawn in Preparation for 2018 Campaign
Trainer Tom Howard of Hot Springs said Tuesday morning at Oaklawn that Ivan Fallunovalot is pointing for the $125,000 King Cotton Stakes for older sprinters Feb. 3, which would be his first opportunity to reach $1 million in career earnings.
Ivan Fallunovalot has earned $945,803 in a 28-race career that has flourished since Howard, on behalf of Lewis Mathews of nearby Bismarck, Ark., claimed the popular 7-year-old gelding for $25,000 at the 2014 Oaklawn meeting.
Howard said Ivan Fallunovalot arrived last week in Hot Springs after being based the last few months at Remington Park, where, in his last start, won the $150,000 David M. Vance Sprint Stakes Sept. 24.
Ivan Fallunovalot won the King Cotton in 2015 and 2016 and the Vance the last four years.
“He hasn’t missed a beat,” Howard said. “What’s really crazy is like in the mornings, when we start to train, he wants to be first. He wants to go right now.”
Howard said Ivan Fallunovalot remained in training after the Vance – the gelding worked a half-mile in :50.97 Oct. 20 at Remington Park – in preparation for a possible start on the East Coast. But Howard said he decided against it because of lengthy travel.
“Save him for here,” Howard said. “They’ll be plenty for him to do here.”
Ivan Fallunovalot ran twice at the 2017 Oaklawn meeting, finishing fourth in the King Cotton and second in the $125,000 Hot Springs Stakes March 11. The gelding was subsequently diagnosed with a soft-tissue injury to a left rear ankle. Ivan Fallunovalot resurfaced with a Sept. 2 allowance victory at Remington, then won the Vance in his final start this year.
“One thing about Ivan, we turned him out a couple of years back and he didn’t do good,” Howard said. “He likes too much attention.”
Tapping into Victory?
Only three horses from the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) have failed to win since the race for 3-year-old fillies was run last March at Oaklawn.
One is Albaugh Family Stables’ Tap of War, who is on the grounds for trainer Kelly Von Hemel following a runner-up finish in an entry-level allowance race Nov. 23 at Churchill Downs.
Tap of War, in her stakes debut, finished ninth in the Honeybee, which was the key race of the 2017 Oaklawn meeting.
Seven of the 11 starters have returned to win stakes races, including It Tiz Well ($300,000 G3 Delaware Oaks and $1 million G1 Cotillion); Elate ($600,000 G1 Alabama and $400,000 G1 Beldame); and Lovely Bernadette ($200,000 G2 Mrs. Revere and $150,000 G3 Pin Oak).
Overall, the 11 Honeybee starters have combined for 12 stakes victories, including eight graded, since the March 11 race at 1 1/16 miles.
“When you run in the Honeybee, you know there’s going to be some nice fillies,” Von Hemel said. “But for that many of them to go ahead and really develop into nice fillies like that, that’s rare.”
A gray daughter of War Front, Tap of War has made three starts since the Honeybee.
After finishing 11th in an April 7 allowance race at Keeneland, she was freshened and returned to run third in an Oct. 13 allowance race at Keeneland and second in another allowance race last month at Churchill Downs.
“She’s still got a lot of talent,” Von Hemel said. “I don’t think she’s reached her potential. Even though she ran second the other day – we thought she ran a good race – it was still not what she’s been training like in the mornings. We still think she’s got more to show for us.”
Von Hemel said Tap of War, a $270,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase, could be seen early in the 2018 Oaklawn meeting that is scheduled to begin Jan. 12.
“We’ve just got to figure out where to run her,” Von Hemel said.
There were 587 horses on the grounds Monday night. … Gate training began Tuesday morning. … Multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Marquee Miss recorded a 3-furlong work (:36.40) over a fast track Saturday for trainer Ingrid Mason. The work equaled the best of 20 at the distance. … Ministry, winner of Oaklawn’s $100,000 Rainbow Miss Stakes for 3-year-old fillies in 2017, worked a half-mile in :49.60 over a fast track Sunday for trainer Jaime Gonzalez. Ministry’s first major 2018 objective is the $100,000 Downthedustyroad Breeders’ Stakes for Arkansas-bred female sprinters Feb. 24, owner Linda Robbins said. … Rockshaw, winner of the $125,000 Gazebo Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters at the 2017 Oaklawn meeting, recorded a half-mile bullet (:47.20) over a fast track Monday morning for trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs.