Friday, March 10, 2017

 

Busy Day for Rebel Stakes Workers

 

It was a busy morning for 3-year-olds pointing towards the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 18 with top local prospects Petrov, Silver Dust and Uncontested all posting impressive works.

 

Co-owner/trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs had been leaning toward the 1 1/16-mile Rebel for approximately a week and confirmed the decision Friday morning after Petrov, a gray son of Flatter, breezed a half-mile in :49 just after the track opened Friday morning under Greta Kuntzweiler.

 

Moquett, who co-owns the colt with Catherine Adams Hutt’s Rialto Racing Stable, said he had been considering training up to the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G2) April 15, Oaklawn’s fourth and final major prep for the Kentucky Derby. Petrov finished second in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 16 and $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 20.

 

“The way I looked at is if this race had been a normal type of race, it would be a no-brainer,” Moquett said approximately an hour after Petrov’s work over a fast track. “But, you really have to consider the amount of effort these horses are going to have to give. This is a real, real tough race.”

 

Moquett said New York-based Jose Ortiz will ride Petrov in the Rebel. Ortiz, a finalist for an Eclipse Award as the country’s outstanding jockey in 2016, rode the colt in the Smarty Jones and Southwest.

 

Other locally based horses pointing for the Rebel include Lookin At Lee and Silver Dust, third and fourth, respectively, in the Southwest, Untrapped, a recent arrival for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, and Silver Bullion for D. Wayne Lukas.

 

Untrapped had been based this winter at Fair Grounds, where he ran second in the $200,000 LeComte Stakes (G3) Jan. 21 and $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2) Feb. 25. Asmussen, a seven-time training champion at Oaklawn, also trains Lookin At Lee.

 

Following the renovation break Friday morning, Silver Dust breezed 6 furlongs in company in 1:14.60 for trainer Randy Morse.

 

“Doing good,” Morse said before the work.

 

Morse said Corey Lanerie would retain the mount on Silver Dust, who was making his stakes, two turn and 3-year-old debut in the Southwest.

 

Also working just after the track opened Friday morning was Smarty Jones winner Uncontested, who blazed 5 furlongs in :58.80, easily the fastest time of the day for the distance, under regular rider Channing Hill.

 

Clockers caught the speedy son of Tiz Wonderful galloping out 6 furlongs in 1:10.60 and 7 furlongs in 1:24.80.

 

“The time speaks for itself,” Hill said. “He went good.”

 

Co-owner Harry Rosenblum said following the work that Uncontested is “highly probable” for the Rebel “off of that breeze.”

 

“The way he came back, he wasn’t winded at all,” Rosenblum said. “Channing said the way he came back to the barn is exactly the way he pulled up – not winded at all.”

 

Uncontested, after leading for much of the race, finished sixth as the favorite in the 1 1/16-mile Southwest. Trained by Wayne Catalano, he was a record-setting 5 ¼-length winner of the Smarty Jones.

 

Stars of the Stable

 

The last two weeks have been good for Starfish Stable LLC, the small local breeding and racing operation headed by practicing veterinarian Linda Robbins.

 

Zonly represented the first Oaklawn winner, and 10th overall, for Starfish in the fourth race Feb. 23, a conditioned claiming sprint for Arkansas-bred fillies and mares.

 

Ministry, a 3-year-old daughter of Ordained, raised the stakes in Sunday’s ninth race, winning an Arkansas-bred maiden-allowance sprint that carried a hefty $72,000 purse.

 

It was not only the most lucrative victory since Starfish’s initial starter in 2010, but Robbins said Ministry was the first winner sired by Ordained, one of six stallions standing at the veterinarian’s 140-acre farm just west of Hot Springs. Robbins also owns Ordained, a 9-year-old son of Pulpit who was campaigned by Little Rock, Ark.-based Westrock Stables LLC (Joe and Scott Ford) and Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

 

“It’s very exciting to finally see a little bit of success,” said Robbins, who has invested heavily in the Arkansas breeding program. “We all work pretty hard. We’ve had some years of: ‘Are we going to break even this year or not?’ It’s really gratifying.”

 

Robbins said Ministry, who was making her third career start Sunday, will be pointed for the $100,000 Rainbow Miss Stakes April 1, the biggest prize for 3-year-old fillies bred in Arkansas. Zonly and Ministry are among seven horses Starfish has in training, Robbins said. Jaime Gonzalez has trained for Starfish since its inception.

 

“We’re just a small operation,” Robbins said. “He breaks the yearlings. He’s the exercise rider on those horses. He grooms them. He does 100 percent of the care on those horses.”

 

Gonzalez lives with his family on the farm Robbins purchased approximately five years ago. Robbins also lives on the farm, where she boards 18 of her mares and approximately 20 more for outside clients.

 

Also standing at Starfish are Cyber Secret, Hamazing Destiny, the Robbins-owned Five Iron, Icon Ike and Macho Rocket. Cyber Secret won the $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) in 2013 for Oaklawn President Charles Cella.

 

Robbins said Ministry is from the second crop of Ordained, who made his final career start at the 2012 Oaklawn meeting.

 

“I ran a few last year and, truthfully, through my own impatience, I ran some that looked like they were ready, but they weren’t,” Robbins said. “Ministry is kind of a special horse. She’s the first foal out of that mare.”

 

Robbins said she also owns the dam of Ministry, Heated Debate, who will be bred next week to millionaire Tapiture. Tapiture, who won Oaklawn’s $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) in 2014, stands in Kentucky, but Robbins said Heated Debate will foal in Arkansas.

 

Robbins said she also has a yearling full brother to Ministry.

 

Ladies Day

 

Saturday’s Dawn At Oaklawn will feature four female guests – trainers Danele Durham, Lynn Chleborad and Ingrid Mason and apprentice jockey Katie Clawson.

 

Paddock analyst Nancy Holthus will interview the trainers and jockey at approximately 8:30 a.m. (Central) on the south grandstand apron.

 

The free program, which runs 7:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m., is open to the public and features barn tours, coffee and pastries.

 

Finish Lines

 

Geovanni Franco ($1,015,391) became the third rider at the meet to reach $1 million in purse earnings when he guided Wings Locked Up ($9) to a neck victory in Thursday’s sixth race. Franco reached seven figures on the 34th day of the meeting, following Ricardo Santana Jr. ($1,257,277) and Ramon Vazquez ($1,217,129). Franco ranks third in the rider standings with 27 victories. … Vazquez snapped a 30-30 tie with Santana atop the standings when favored Annuity ($3.80) won Thursday’s third race. Santana is scheduled to resume riding in Friday’s eighth race after suffering a shoulder separation in a March 2 spill. … Owner/trainer John E. Cox won two races Thursday – Husky Clipper ($65.60) in the seventh and A Terrific Shot ($8.80) in the eighth. The seventh race, a starter allowance/optional claimer for older horses, was Oaklawn’s first at 1 ½ miles since April 22, 1989. Husky Clipper ran sixth in last year’s 1 ¾-mile Trail’s End marathon, traditionally the final race of the Oaklawn meeting. … Explosive Feb. 26 second-level allowance/optional claiming winner Secret Passage, who worked 5 furlongs in 1:00.60 Friday morning, will be nominated to upcoming stakes races, trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel said. Secret Passage is a 4-year-old son of Curlin. … Nominations to the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds, $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) for older fillies and mares and $250,000 Essex Handicap for older horses – all run March 18 – close Friday. … Oaklawn co-stakes coordinator Lenny Rera is at Santa Anita recruiting for major stakes races in April.

 

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