Friday, January 20, 2017
Stakes Winner Perfect Wife Returns to Work
Perfect Wife returned to the work tab Friday morning at Oaklawn, breezing a half-mile in :50.80 over a sealed, muddy surface just after the track opened for trainer Kenny McPeek.
Following the work, McPeek said Perfect Wife remains on target to make her 3-year-old debut in the $125,000 Martha Washington Stakes Feb. 11, a 1-mile race that is the first major local two-turn prep for the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 14.
A daughter of Grade 1-winning sprinter Majesticperfection, a devastating 2010 Oaklawn allowance winner, Perfect Wife hasn’t started since a five-length wire-to-wire victory in the $100,000 Trapeze Stakes Dec. 11 at Remington Park. The 1-mile Trapeze was the filly’s first start around two turns and second victory in three starts overall.
“I don’t think it’s a problem,” McPeek said of the mile distance. “She showed she handled it real well. She’s got enough speed to keep herself out of trouble, too. That race in Oklahoma was a really good step for her.”
Perfect Wife’s only loss was a fourth behind Vertical Oak in an entry-level allowance/optional claimer Nov. 26 at Churchill Downs. Vertical Oak is the 7-5 program favorite for Saturday’s $125,000 Dixie Belle Stakes at Oaklawn.
McPeek said he hopes to start Young American, a 3-year-old Congrats colt, in an entry-level allowance/optional claimer next week. He most recently finished sixth in the $300,000 Springboard Mile Dec. 11 at Remington Park in his last start.
Plans are pending for Rowdy the Warrior and Warrior’s Club, third and fourth, respectively, in Monday’s $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes, their respective trainers said Friday morning.
Rowdy the Warrior was beaten 9 ¾ lengths by Uncontested, who set a stakes record (1:36.32) for a mile over the sloppy surface.
“The mile is probably a little short for us,” trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel said. “I think the winner ran a pretty good race. But I think going forward, our horse will keep improving.”
Oaklawn’s Kentucky Derby prep series continues with the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 20.
Von Hemel, who won the Southwest last year with Suddenbreakingnews, termed Rowdy the Warrior’s status for the 1 1/16-mile race a “possibility.”
Warrior’s Club, the 9-2 third choice, was beaten 12 lengths by Uncontested in his 3-year-old debut for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Lukas said he didn’t believe Warrior’s Club handled the sloppy surface, the colt’s first start on an off track.
“We always have the excuse in the mud, I guess,” Lukas said. “We didn’t get his ‘A’ game, that’s for sure, in the mud.”
The trainer said he’ll “look at” at the Southwest, but added he isn’t sure if wants Warrior’s Club to contest all four of Oaklawn’s Kentucky Derby preps, a series that culminates with the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 15.
“He’s a small horse and he could get light on me,” Lukas said. “I just want to make sure. I don’t know if we’ll make all the dances.”
Rowdy the Warrior and Warrior’s Club are both sons of Warrior’s Reward.
Uncontested is pointing for the Southwest, trainer Wayne Catalano said.
Smarty Jones runner-up Petrov, who was beaten 5 ¼ lengths, is “probable,” according to Ron Moquett of Hot Springs, who trains and co-owns the colt.
The final major local prep for the Arkansas Derby is the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 18.
A riding double Thursday pushed Ramon Vazquez into the solo lead in the standings after the first five days of racing. He won the first race aboard favored Friend of Liberty ($4.20) for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and sixth race aboard A Gala Day ($9) for trainer Federico Villafranco, the jockey’s major client.
The double allowed Vazquez to snap a 5-5 tie with New York-based Jose Ortiz, who rode the first days of the meeting, and Geovanni Franco. Ortiz, a finalist for an Eclipse Award as the country’s outstanding jockey of 2016, was a valet for Vazquez in 2011 in Puerto Rico, said Vazquez’s agent, Ruben Munoz.
Vazquez, Oaklawn’s second-leading leading rider the last two years, leads all jockeys at the meet in mounts (31), victories (seven) and purse earnings ($332,066). He also won the opening-day $125,000 Fifth Season Stakes aboard Domain’s Rap for Villafranco and three-time defending Oaklawn leading owner Danny Caldwell.
Through the first five days of the 2016 meeting, Vazquez was Oaklawn’s co-sixth-leading rider with two victories from 26 starts and had purse earnings of $70,467.
Four-time defending Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr., also represented by Munoz, is named on six horses Friday after missing the first five days of the meeting because of suspensions stemming from the 2016 live season.
The sealed service was rated muddy for workouts Friday morning. … Multiple stakes-winning sprinter Ivan Fallunovalot, about 10 minutes after the track opened Friday, worked a sharp half-mile in :48.40 under Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel. Trainer Tom Howard of Hot Springs is pointing Ivan Fallunovalot for the $125,000 King Cotton Stakes Feb. 4, a race he’s won the last two years. “Everything’s good,” Howard said before the breeze. … Trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel said Friday morning that he remains in a holding pattern with Suddenbreakingnews after a Sunday allowance race, which would have marked the 4-year-old debut of the 2015 Southwest winner, didn’t fill. Von Hemel said he will probably work the gelding in the next few days over a fast track. Oaklawn’s next major two-turn race for older horses is the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) Feb. 20. … Alex Birzer’s victory aboard Cap’s Tale ($10) in Thursday’s ninth race was the 2,987th of his career, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Birzer is trying to become the 174th jockey to reach 3,000 North American career victories, according to Equibase. … Jon Court, Oaklawn’s leading rider in 2000, recorded his 4,001st career victory in Thursday’s fifth race aboard Devilish Reason ($33.20). … Eddie Perez recorded his first Oaklawn victory since 2009 aboard Not So Lovely ($13.60) in Thursday’s second race. Perez was Oaklawn’s second-leading apprentice rider in 1990 with 22 victories (Joe Johnson won 25), but is riding in Hot Springs for the first time since 2009.