Hence Joins Southwest Stakes Fray
Calumet Farm’s Hence, who provided Steve Asmussen with a milestone victory at Oaklawn, will make his next start in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds Feb. 20, the Hall of Fame trainer said Saturday morning.
Hence, in his fourth lifetime start, was an eventful Jan. 16 maiden winner under Ramon Vazquez, who will ride the Street Boss colt in the Southwest.
Hence – Asmussen’s 500th career Oaklawn winner – stumbled at the start of the 1 1/16-mile maiden-allowance race run over a sloppy track, but was still on his way to an easy victory before ducking in sharply inside the furlong marker. He recovered to regain the lead on the inside in the final 50 yards and finished three-quarters of a length ahead Horse Fly, also owned by Calumet (Brad Kelley).
Vazquez, Asmussen said, believed Hence ducked in because of a reflection from an infield video board.
“He’s got a lot of talent,” Asmussen said. “Obviously, a little … the other day, but he’s trained nice here since.”
Asmussen called Hence’s 5-furlong breeze in 1:02.20 Feb. 1, “a great work.”
Hence was making his 3-year-old debut last month after finishing seventh, third and second in three starts last year. He debuted in an Aug. 27 sprint at Saratoga. The runner-up in that maiden race, Mo Town, won the $300,000 Remsen Stakes (G2) Nov. 26 at Aqueduct in his last start.
Hence also ran third to Guest Suite in an Oct. 8 maiden race at Keeneland at 1 1/16 miles. Guest Suite captured the $200,000 LeComte Stakes (G3) Jan. 21 at Fair Grounds in his last start.
“He’s caught some good company,” Asmussen said. “He’s got talent, and I think he’ll run great.”
Other locally based horses pointing for the Southwest include Uncontested (Channing Hill to ride), Petrov (Jose Ortiz), Warrior’s Club, Lookin At Lee (Ricardo Santana Jr.), Silver Dust (Corey Lanerie) and Chief Know It All. Uncontested, Petrov and Warrior’s Club ran first, second and fourth, respectively, in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 16.
Hence broke his maiden in the race before the Smarty Jones.
Lookin At Lee, also trained by Asmussen, ran fourth in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) Nov. 5 at Santa Anita in his last start.
Four of a Kind
Four-time defending riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. rode four winners Friday to move into second in the standings with 19 victories.
Santana won the last four races – the sixth aboard Turn Back Time ($6.60) for trainer J.R. Caldwell, seventh aboard favored Our Majesty ($8) for trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs, eighth aboard Friend of Liberty ($7.80) for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and ninth aboard favored Dreamcall ($6.40) for Asmussen.
Santana trails Ramon Vazquez 22-19 after the first 18 days of racing.
No Day of Rest
Unbeaten Tap of War will make her 3-year-old debut in Sunday’s eighth race, a first-level allowance/optional claimer at a mile after scratching from Saturday’s $125,000 Martha Washington Stakes. Trainer Kelly Von Hemel said the War Front filly was entered in the 1-mile Martha Washington in case Sunday’s race didn’t fill.
“We were just kind of protecting ourselves, as far as the stakes goes, because we need to get started,” Von Hemel said.
Tap of War hasn’t raced since July 23 at Prairie Meadows, when she drew off by 4 ½ lengths as the 3-5 favorite in the maiden-allowance sprint.
Von Hemel said Tap of War had some subsequent “growing pains” and wasn’t “hitting the ground like we wanted” training, so the filly was sent to noted equine surgeon Larry Bramlage at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., where she received a clean bill of health.
“He said she just needed some time, so we gave her enough time before we went back to training,” Von Hemel said. “Just needed some time to mature and grow up.”
Von Hemel said Tap of War resumed training in early November. She has recorded several sparkling workouts at Oaklawn leading up to her 3-year-old debut, including a half-mile bullet (:47) last Saturday.
“We’ve been high on her from Day 1,” Von Hemel said. “The guys on the farm, they loved her. The main reason we gave her time off is because she’s a filly we have high hopes for her and just wanted to do everything right for her.”
Iowa-based Albaugh Family Stables LLC (Dennis Albaugh and Jason Loutsch) purchased Tap of War for $270,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
Albaugh Family Stables also campaigned Not This Time, runner-up in last year’s $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) for trainer Dale Romans, and bred Liam’s Map, winner of the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) in 2015 for trainer Todd Pletcher. Both Not This Time and Liam’s Map are out of Miss Macy Sue, a multiple stakes winner of $880,915 for Von Hemel and Dennis Albaugh in 2005-2008.
Miss Macy Sue was 2 for 2 at Oaklawn, including the $50,000 Carousel Stakes in 2007, and finished third later that year in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.
“They’re such great people and taken good care of us and given us an opportunity to have some really nice young horses now,” Von Hemel said of the Albaughs. “Hopefully, we can get one of them to go on and do something, and hopefully this filly is the one.”
Tap of War is out of Hightap, winner of the $200,000 Iowa Oaks (G3) in 2009 at Prairie Meadows.
A Lucky Day
Trainer Bill Carrelli said he doesn’t remember seeing much of the 1982 Martha Washington Stakes, but he liked what he saw at the finish. Carrelli saddled future Eclipse Award winner Ambassador of Luck to a 3 ½-length victory in the Martha Washington, then a $50,000 race at 6 furlongs.
The Martha Washington was the 3-year-old debut for Ambassador of Luck and, apparently, her first in less than ideal weather conditions.
“The race was in the fog,” said Carrelli, 70, who hasn’t had a starter since 2005. “You couldn’t see anything, except, like, the last eighth of a mile. The announcer, Terry Wallace, said, ‘They’re off!’ You couldn’t see, you couldn’t see anything.”
Carrelli said he waited and waited before a “faint” image emerged in the stretch.
“And it was her,” Carrelli said. “Then it seemed like I waited two or three seconds before I saw the next horse.”
Ambassador of Luck finished second in her next start, the Magnolia Stakes, but became seriously ill shortly after the race, Carrelli said, a setback that forced her to miss her major spring objective, Oaklawn’s Fantasy Stakes.
The trainer said he brought a small string to Oaklawn for the first time in 1982 because of Ambassador of Luck, who won 3 of 4 starts at 2.
“I always wanted to go there and when I got her, I decided that was the best route to go with her, especially because the Martha Washington was a sprint and it was $50,000,” Carrelli said. “That was pretty big back in 1982.”
Carrelli said he lost Ambassador of Luck later that year after a falling out with the filly’s new co-owner, Steve Peskoff.
Ambassador of Luck was named the country’s champion older female of 1983 after winning 6 of 6 starts, including the Maskette Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park. She retired with a 14-4-3 record from 25 lifetime starts and earnings of $489,583.
“If you look at her life history, she was one great horse,” Carrelli said.
Oaklawn’s Martha Washington Stakes is now worth $125,000 and run at a mile.
The track was rated fast for workouts Saturday morning. … Jerrid, about 10 minutes after the track opened, worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.60 for trainer Scott Young, who said he is pointing the 3-year-old son of Mineshaft for an entry-level allowance/optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles next Saturday. … Multiple stakes-winning sprinter Super Saks will run in next Saturday’s $150,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said. Super Saks won the $150,000 Carousel Stakes last April at Oaklawn, beating, among others, Haveyougoneaway, runner-up in voting for an Eclipse Award as the country’s champion female sprinter of 2016. … Lukas also said Saturday morning that it doesn’t look like he’ll have a starter in the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses Feb. 20. The 1 1/16-mile Razorback is expected to be headed by Grade 1 winner Gun Runner. … Trainer Brian Williamson said Streamline, who worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.80 Saturday morning, will run in the Bayakoa. Streamline finished second in last year’s Bayakoa and third in her last start, the $125,000 Pippin Stakes Jan. 14. … Pippin winner Terra Promessa will run in the Bayakoa, Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen said Saturday morning. … Millionaire Alsvid worked a bullet half-mile (:46.20) Saturday morning for trainer Chris Hartman, who is targeting the $125,000 Hot Springs Stakes March 11 for the gelding’s next start. … Chigger Bite, an unraced 3-year-old Stroll colt owned by Oaklawn President Charles Cella, worked 3 furlongs in :35.80 Saturday morning for trainer Mike Johnson. Cella and Johnson teamed to win Oaklawn’s $100,000 Fifth Season Stakes in 2014 with Drogue, a half-brother to Chigger Bite.
Hence Joins Southwest Stakes Fray