Thursday, July 27, 2017
Apple Blossom Handicap winner Stellar Wind leads a trio of Oaklawn-raced horses competing in Grade 1 races this weekend. The champion mare will be looking to defend her title in the Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar Sunday; Hence, who broke his maiden Oaklawn in January, seeks his third career stakes victory in Sunday’s $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth.
Oaklawn Runners Have Major Stakes Engagements This Weekend
Three Oaklawn-raced horses are scheduled to compete in important stakes events this weekend, including champion Stellar Wind in the $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch (G1) for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles Sunday at Del Mar. Stellar Wind, the defending Hirsch champion, won the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 14 at Oaklawn in her 5-year-old debut.
The Southern California-based mare surpassed $2 million in career earnings in her last start, a victory in the $400,000 Beholder Mile Stakes (G1) June 3 at Santa Anita. A daughter of 2007 Arkansas Derby and Rebel winner Curlin, Stellar Wind captured an Eclipse Award as the country’s champion 3-year-old filly of 2015.
The $1 million Haskell Invitational (G1) for 3-year-olds Sunday at Monmouth Park is expected to feature Calumet Farm’s Hence, whose Jan. 16 maiden victory at Oaklawn represented the 500th for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen in Hot Springs. Asmussen has won eight Oaklawn training titles since 2007.
After running seventh in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 20 at Oaklawn, Hence won the $800,000 Sunland Derby (G3) March 26 at Sunland Park and the $250,000 Iowa Derby (G3) July 7 at Prairie Meadows in his last start.
A.P. Indian, runner-up in his 4-year-old debut, a 2014 allowance/optional claimer at Oaklawn, drew post 4 for the $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1) Saturday at Saratoga. He was a finalist for an Eclipse Award (champion male sprinter) last year after winning 6 of 7 starts, including the Vanderbilt.
A.P. Indian is coming off a second to Whitmore in the $150,000 Maryland Sprint Stakes (G3) May 20 at Pimlico. Whitmore was the top sprinter at this year’s Oaklawn meeting, winning the $125,000 Hot Springs Stakes March 11 and $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 15. Whitmore was ticketed for the Vanderbilt before suffering a minor foot injury, trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs said.
Probable post time for the 6-furlong Vanderbilt is 4:02 p.m. (Central). It is the eighth of 11 races.
Multiple graded stakes winner Finley’sluckycharm finished second, beaten a neck, in the $200,000 Honorable Miss Handicap (G2) for female sprinters Wednesday at Saratoga. Finley’sluckycharm has won 8 of 11 career starts, including a 2016 allowance/optional claimer at Oaklawn in her 3-year-old debut. … Defending champion Hard Aces finished second, beaten a nose, in the $100,000 Cougar II Handicap (G3) at 1 ½ miles Wednesday at Del Mar. Hard Aces, who has earned $1,227,990 in his 42-race career, finished sixth in the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) in 2015 at Oaklawn. … Lady O’Toole, a 2-year-old Colonel John filly, won an entry-level allowance sprint Wednesday at Indiana Grand for Brad Cox, third in Oaklawn’s 2017 trainer standings, and Steve Landers of Little Rock. The filly was one of two winners for Cox and Landers on the card. … Luis Contreras, fifth in the 2017 Oaklawn jockey standings, won the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes, the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, aboard Cool Catomine Tuesday at Fort Erie. Contreras won the first leg, the $1 million Queen’s Plate Stakes July 2 at Woodbine, aboard Holy Helena. Contreras, riding first call for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, won 31 races this year at Oaklawn. … Geovanni Franco, Oaklawn’s co-third-leading rider this year, recorded his first victory at the Del Mar meeting Wednesday. After winning 45 races at Oaklawn, Franco suffered a broken wrist in a May 13 spill at Churchill Downs. He resurfaced earlier this month in Southern California. Franco had previously ridden at Canterbury Park after the Oaklawn meeting ended. … Walter De La Cruz, 10th in the standings this year, has a meet-high 52 victories at Thistledown. De La Cruz won 15 races this year in Hot Springs. … Oaklawn-raced Power Driven and Son of Pearl are entered in the $25,000 Manitoba Mile Stakes Friday at Assiniboia. … Oaklawn-raced Coastline and Kobe’s Back are entered in the $300,000 Bing Crosby Stakes (G1) for sprinters Saturday at Del Mar. Probable post time for the 6-furlong race is 8:10 p.m. (Central), and it goes as race 9. Reigning male sprint champion Drefong heads the Bing Crosby entrants. … Hot Shot Kid, who broke his maiden April 15 at Oaklawn, seeks his fifth consecutive victory in the $85,000 Minnesota Derby Saturday at Canterbury Park. The mile and 70-yard race is restricted to Minnesota-breds. Alex Canchari, Oaklawn’s co-third-leading rider this year, is named to ride the Mac Robertson trainee. Robertson finished ninth in the trainer standings this year. Hot Shot Kid is the 3-5 program favorite.