KATHBALLU PULLS MILD SPRING FEVER STAKES UPSET
FAVORITE ROCKSHAW IMPRESSIVE IN GAZEBO STAKES
HOT SPRINGS, AR (Saturday, March 4, 2017) – Five D Thoroughbreds’ Kathballu has made a habit of winning as of late and secured her third stakes victory in her last four starts Saturday by taking the $125,000 Spring Fever Stakes by three-quarters of a length over a fast-closing Natural Wonder.
The heavy 4-5 favorite Fantastic Style didn’t get a clean start, but managed to grab a narrow lead from the well-bunched field through early fractions of :22 1/5 and :45 3/5 for the first half mile, while the Kenny McPeek-trained Kathballu stalked closely in second. The eventual winner stuck her head in front as the field entered the stretch, garnered a larger advantage late and had enough left to hold on for the win in 1:04 1/5 for 5 ½ furlongs over a fast track.
Marquee Miss finished third and was followed by D R C’s Pretty Sky, Fantastic Style and Super Saks. Durango and Her Love for Pappy completed the order of finish.
“She was all heart,” winning jockey Channing Hill said. “Not the ideal trip, as I was inside and had to press on the entire way. I thought (Fantastic Style) would be a little faster and she did get out there just a little bit, and since I knew Marquee Miss so well I knew she would keep pressure to the outside. I didn’t want to take her (Kathballu) back from a good spot, and from there good horses make you look good because she just powered through it and she kept running all the way to the wire. She ran fantastic. I give (trainer) Kenny (McPeek) and the barn a lot of credit, because I didn’t do anything, but ask her from the eighth pole.”
Kathballu, a five-year-old Bluegrass Cat mare bred by her owner, improved her record to 7-3-3 from 24 starts and has now earned $409,349. She returned $12.20, $6.40 and $3.80 as the 5-1 third choice in the field of six.
One race earlier, Alex and JoAnn Lieblong’s Rockshaw earned an impressive four-length victory as the 2-1 favorite in the $125,000 Gazebo Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters.
Rockshaw, ridden by Geovanni Franco, stalked Laughingsaintssong through opening fractions of :22 1/5 and :45 1/5 for the first half mile. As the field entered the stretch, Rockshaw overtook the early leader, who held on for second, and drew off to win the six-furlong race easily in 1:09 1/5. The well-bred Triple Crown race nominee Balandeen, making his seasonal debut, finished third and then galloped out seven furlongs in 1:24 4/5.
“He’s a very cool horse,” trainer Ron Moquett said. “These kind of horses make us look good. Real happy to have him.”
Rockshaw, a Maclean’s Music colt, improved his record to three wins from five starts and has now earned $165,550. He returned $6.20, $3.40 and $2.60 as the 2-1 favorite.
Live racing resumes Sunday with a 1:30 p.m. first post.
Gazebo Stakes Quotes
Winning trainer Ron Moquett, Rockshaw - “He's a very cool horse. These kind of horses make us look good. Real happy to have him.”
Moquett said Rockshaw will be pointed for the $150,000 Bachelor Stakes April 13 at Oaklawn.
“We’ll stay here at home. Arkansas owners, Arkansas trainer - that will be fine.”
Winning jockey Geovanni Franco aboard Rockshaw – “That is a very nice horse. I am very thankful for the opportunity the trainer and the owners gave me. I want to wish a speedy recovery to my fellow riders Ricardo Santana Jr. and Didiel Osorio, and thank God for everything.”
Note: Santana Jr. was scheduled to ride Rockshaw until injuring his shoulder in a spill Thursday that also injured Osorio.
2nd place finisher Kerwin Clark aboard Laughingsaintsong - “He ran well. You know he’s a Louisiana bred. That horse that won can go anywhere and win. He (Rockshaw) came by me pretty easy down the stretch. We just wanted to try out the horse and see what he had, and we found out. He ran second and ran a good race, but Louisiana-breds aren’t going to beat him (Rockshaw).”
Spring Fever Quotes
Winning trainer Kenny McPeek, Kathballu – “I told Channing not to give the #2 horse (Fantastic Style) an easy lead. If nobody went with her, to keep her honest. It looked like the 2 got off a little sluggish and Channing was in good position. He put her in good position. Made all the difference. She’s fast enough to let her go, and she’ll stalk, second, third, if you need her to. But, he had to commit a little bit there. And like I said, if the 2 doesn't break a little bit sluggish, he had to put her up there one way or another. Worked out good.”
Winning jockey Channing Hill aboard Kathballu – “She was all heart. Not the ideal trip, as I was inside and had to press on the entire way. I thought (Fantastic Style) would be a little faster and she did get out there just a little bit, and since I knew Marquee Miss so well I knew she would keep pressure to the outside. I didn’t want to take her (Kathballu) back from a good spot, and from there good horses make you look good because she just powered through it and she kept running all the way to the wire. She ran fantastic. I give Kenny (McPeek) and the barn a lot of credit, because I didn’t do anything, but ask her from the eighth pole.”
2nd place jockey Chris Landeros aboard Natural Wonder – “I think the distance might have got us today more than anything. I was proud of her effort. She seems like a very classy, honest filly. We will just try again next time with maybe a little more distance.”
5th place jockey Luis Contreras aboard 4/5 favorite Fantastic Style – “She ran well. She broke okay and we went to the lead, but I was trying to save some horse for the end. She was trying hard, but in the end she just kind of stopped at the 1/16th pole.”