Monday, February 20, 2017

 

Santana Jr. Takes the Lead in Standings, Reaches Million Dollar Mark

 

It was Ricardo Santana Jr. by a nose.

 

Santana, Oaklawn’s four-time defending riding champion, became the first jockey at the meet to reach $1 million in purse earnings when he guided Chanteline to a second-place finish in Sunday’s eighth race, an allowance/optional claimer for older filly and mare sprinters.

 

Santana, 24, completed a riding triple Sunday when he won the ninth race – a maiden-allowance sprint for 3-year-old fillies aboard favored Swing and Sway ($6) for trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs – to amass $1,050,615 in purse earnings after the 24th day of the scheduled 57-day meeting. He was at $1,007,415 after the eighth race.

 

Ramon Vazquez rode two winners Sunday, the second aboard Pleasant Tales ($19.20) in the eighth race, to push his purse earnings at the meet to $994,368. Vazquez, Oaklawn’s second-leading rider the last two years, didn’t have a mount in the ninth race.

 

Santana also reached $1 million in purse earnings at the 2016 Oaklawn meeting with a riding triple on the 24th day of racing.

 

Santana’s milestone this season is more noteworthy because he missed the first five days of racing (Jan. 13-16 and Jan. 19) after a suspension stemming from the 2016 meeting and another day (Jan. 21) to ride at Fair Grounds.

 

Through 24 days last year at Oaklawn, Santana had a meet-high 31 victories and $1,058,746 in purse earnings. Through the same period this year, Santana has a meet-high 28 victories, two more than Vazquez.

 

Santana’s other victories Sunday were aboard favored Learning Curve ($4.80) in the second race for trainer J.R. Caldwell and Sky Alert ($8.20) in the sixth race for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.

 

Santana has ridden at Oaklawn since 2011 and set a single-season record for purse earnings last year ($4,064,073). He has 318 career victories in Hot Springs and 19 stakes victories, the last coming aboard the Asmussen-trained Terra Promessa in Saturday’s $150,000 Bayakoa (G3) for older fillies and mares.

 

Both Santana and Vazquez are represented by Ruben Munoz.

 

 

 

Ready to Swarm

 

Someday Soon, a powerful front-running entry-level allowance/optional claiming Feb. 12, is pointing for the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies March 11, trainer Will VanMeter said Saturday morning.

 

Someday Soon earned an 85 Beyer Speed Figure for her 3 ¾-length victory under Walter De La Cruz. She ran a mile over a fast track in 1:37.95, second-quickest time of the meeting for the distance.

 

“I thought it was the most impressive horse I’ve ever led over, as far as just watching her run,” VanMeter said. “It was the best race that I’ve had any of my horses run.”

 

VanMeter saddled his first of 21 career winners to date March 14, 2014, at Oaklawn.

 

Someday Soon, an Ohio-bred daughter of Proud Citizen, was coming off a troubled 10th-place finish in the $200,000 Golden Rod Stakes (G2) Nov. 26 at Churchill Downs.

 

My Sweet Stella, who finished ninth in the Golden Rod, is also scheduled to make her next start in the Honeybee after finishing second in the $125,000 Dixie Belle Stakes Jan. 21 and $125,000 Martha Washington Stakes Feb. 11 for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

 

VanMeter, a former assistant to Lukas, said Someday Soon and My Sweet Stella were both “completely comprised” at the start of the 1 1/16-mile Golden Rod.

 

“We were like the 6 and the 5 horse, and the 7 horse kind of came in,” VanMeter said.

 

VanMeter said Someday Soon is the first horse he’s had for Atlanta trucking company executive Tommy Ligon, who has had horses in the past with trainer Larry Jones. VanMeter said Jones put him in contact with Ligon, adding he’s the “sweetest, most sincere guy you’ve ever met.”

 

“If that filly would have run last, he would have called and said, ‘I’m just so glad that horse is with you,' ” Van Meter said. “He’s just a great guy.”

 

Ligon also bred Someday Soon, who has a 3-2-0 record from seven lifetime starts and earnings of $171,360. She beat Ohio-breds in the $150,000 John W. Galbreath Stakes Oct. 29 at Mahoning Valley before running in the Golden Rod. She also ran three other times against state-breds last year.

 

“We’re going to treat her like a champion and if she disappoints us, it’s so sweet to kind of have that backup,” VanMeter said of the Ohio-bred program.

 

Equipment Change

 

Marquee Miss has been equipped in a different bit since being disqualified from second and placed last of six in the $125,000 American Beauty Stakes for older female sprinters Jan. 28, trainer Ingrid Mason said Sunday morning.

 

Mason said she changed bits after Marquee Miss, a multiple Oaklawn stakes winner, lugged in badly multiple times in the stretch during the American Beauty, when she was beaten three-quarters of a length by Athena.

 

“It’s the most severe thing, as far as giving you steering, and we had to see if she could handle it,” Mason said. “Some horses don’t like it, but she seemed to handle it fine.”

 

Mason said it’s the same type of bit worn by two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, who won Oaklawn’s $300,000 Rebel Stakes (G3) and $1 million Arkansas Derby (G2) in 2007 for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.

 

“That’s a Curlin bit, that’s what that is,” Mason said with a laugh. “I figured we’d try that. She likes it, so we’re going to go with that.”

 

Marquee Miss had her first published work since the American Beauty, breezing a half-mile in :50 over a fast track Saturday morning. Mason said she worked Marquee Miss in company, and the 4-year-old filly ran straight through the stretch in chasing down a stablemate.

 

“She’s got a mind of her own,” Mason said. “It’s just one of those things. She’s lugged in a little bit since her first race – that’s been her thing – but never to the severity she did the other day.”

 

Marquee Miss also lugged in during a runner-up finish, beaten a neck by Athena, in a Jan. 13 allowance/optional claiming sprint.

 

Mason said Marquee Miss is being pointed for the $125,000 Spring Fever Stakes at 5 ½ furlongs March 4. The filly won Oaklawn’s $100,000 Dixie Belle Stakes and $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes last year.

 

A Senior Moment

 

Triple Crown nominee Senior Investment, a sharp three-length entry-level allowance/optional claiming winner Saturday, is under consideration for several major stakes races, trainer Kenny McPeek said Monday morning.

 

McPeek said Senior Investment could resurface in the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) April 1 at Fair Grounds, $1 million Blue Grass Stakes (G2) April 8 at Keeneland or the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 15 at Oaklawn.

 

“I’m going to run him a mile and an eighth,” McPeek said. “The farther the better.”

 

Senior Investment, who has never run in a sprint, has crossed the wire first in his last three starts, but was disqualified from a first-level allowance/optional claiming score Jan. 27 at Fair Grounds (interference near the five-sixteenths pole).

 

In Saturday’s race, Senior Investment, a son of Discreetly Mine, ran 1 1/16 miles over a fast track in 1:45.11 under Channing Hill and paid $12.40.

 

Finish Lines

 

As expected, Dazzling Gem (Razorback Handicap) and Cool Arrow (Southwest Stakes) remained at Fair Grounds and were scratched Monday morning. Chief of Staff was also scratched from the Razorback. … The track was rated fast for workouts Monday morning. … Vertical Oak, fourth in the $125,000 Dixie Belle Stakes Jan. 21, worked 5 furlongs in 1:02.60 Monday morning for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. … Ever So Clever, fifth in the $125,000 Martha Washington Stakes Feb. 11, worked a half-mile in :52 Monday morning for Asmussen. … Discreetness, winner of the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes last year at Oaklawn, worked a half-mile in :51.60 Monday morning for trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs. … Jersey Heist, a Jan. 29 maiden winner for trainer Jimmy DiVito, worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.60 Monday morning. … Seven Forty Seven, a Jan. 28 maiden graduate, is being pointed for an entry-level allowance race, co-owner/trainer Ingrid Mason said Sunday morning. The 3-year-old Tiz Wonderful gelding, favored in his Aug. 20 career debut at Saratoga, was purchased for $70,000 at the Ocala Breeders Sales Co.’s June 2-year-old and Horses of Racing Age Sale. And the name? “Well, his hip number was 747 and he looks like 747 when he runs,” Mason said. “He’s so damn big, so we figured he looked like a jumbo jet.” Mason found her multiple stakes winners, Sarah’s Sis and Marquee Miss, at the same Florida sale. … Mason said impressive Jan. 16 debut winner Checkmate Charlie is pointing for an entry-level state-bred allowance race as a prep for the $100,000 Rainbow Stakes (3-year-old Arkansas-bred colts and geldings) March 31. … Trainer Brad Cox said Will Call (2 of 3 lifetime) is under consideration for the $125,000 Gazebo Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters March 4. … Rockshaw, a first-level allowance winner Jan. 14, worked a bullet half-mile (:47.20) Saturday morning for Moquett, who said he is pointing the Maclean’s Music colt for the Gazebo. … Moquett sent out another winner from the first crop of Maclean’s Music in Sunday’s ninth race, Swing and Sway ($6), who broke her maiden by a length in her 3-year-old debut for Little Rock, Ark.-based Westrock Stables LLC (Joe and Scott Ford). New York-bred Swing and Sway, in her only other start, ran fifth Sept. 5 at Saratoga. … Country music star Toby Keith was in the winner’s circle picture after his 3-year-old homebred Ice Box colt, Bigshot Lacewell, broke his maiden in Sunday’s fifth race for trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel. Von Hemel said Keith, a big Oklahoma football fan, named the colt after former Sooners defensive coordinator Larry Lacewell, a Fordyce, Ark., native and longtime director of scouting for the Dallas Cowboys. Keith performed at a Hot Springs restaurant, Doc N’ Maggie’s, later Sunday.

 

    

-30-