Friday, March 24, 2017
Oaklawn Sets Non-Derby Day Handle Record on Rebel Day
Total pari-mutuel wagering handle on Saturday’s races at Oaklawn was a record for March and a non-Arkansas Derby Day, Bobby Geiger, the track’s director of gaming and wagering, said Thursday morning. Oaklawn handled $10,752,313.15 – $8,544,041.15 was bet off track – on the 11-race card that featured three stakes, including the $900,000 Rebel (G2), a major Triple Crown prep.
“Very good day,” said David Longinotti, Oaklawn’s director of racing.
The previous record handle for a non-Arkansas Derby Day – total wagering strictly on Oaklawn races – was $10,423,481.12 April 5, 2003. The 12-race card, dubbed “Million Dollar Saturday,” was highlighted by the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) for older fillies and mares and the $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses. Both races featured heavy favorites (reigning Horse of the Year Azeri in the Apple Blossom and multiple graded stakes winner Medaglia d’Oro in the Oaklawn Handicap), which triggered massive show wagering, particularly off track, because Oaklawn still offered $2.20 minimum payouts.
Geiger said off-track wagering Saturday was boosted by Oaklawn’s new Pick-5 wager (last five races), which replaced the CLASSIX this year. The CLASSIX (races 3-8) was Oaklawn’s version of the Pick-6.
Pick-5 wagering Saturday, the sequence included the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) for older fillies and mares, $250,000 Essex Handicap for older horses and the Rebel, was $301,091.84, Geiger said. Of that total, $280,325.84 was bet off track.
Pick-6 wagering on Million Dollar Saturday in 2003 – the bet was anchored by the Apple Blossom, but didn’t include the Oaklawn Handicap – was $13,244.
“That’s your margin,” Geiger said.
Rebel Day has become Oaklawn’s second-biggest business day of the season.
Saturday also yielded meet highs for attendance (estimated 36,000) and on-track mutuel handle ($2,208,272) and straight wagering (win, place and show) on the Rebel was $1,292,653, just off the record $1,294,310, set in 2005.
“Rebel Day has become huge,” Geiger said. “They were good wagering races, the stakes were. And the Pick-5 has performed magnificently.”
Saturday’s estimated attendance was the largest for Rebel Day since 2010. Attendance and on-track mutuel handle increased 2.9 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively, over last year. Off-track handle and total handle were up 22 percent and 17.8 percent, respectively, over 2016.
Estimated attendance for last year’s Rebel Day was 35,000. Total handle was $9,124,971.68, with $7,002,869.98 wagered off track.
Oaklawn’s daily record handle of $14,536,965 was set April 15, 2000 (Arkansas Derby Day).
Multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Marquee Miss worked 5 furlongs over a fast track in 1:01.80 Friday morning for trainer Ingrid Mason, who is pointing the daughter of Cowboy Cal for the $150,000 for older female sprinters Carousel Stakes April 8.
Marquee Miss is coming off a third-place finish behind Carousel-bound Kathballu in the $125,000 Spring Fever Stakes March 4.
Marquee Miss crossed the wire second in the $125,000 American Beauty Stakes Jan. 28, but was disqualified to sixth after lugging in repeatedly in the stretch. She won Oaklawn’s $100,000 Dixie Belle Stakes and $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes last year at 3.
American Beauty winner Athena worked a half-mile in :49.20 Friday morning for trainer Helen Pitts.
Multiple stakes winner Smack Smack ($970,430 in career earnings) worked a half-mile in :50.80 Friday morning for trainer Don Von Hemel of Hot Springs. Runner-up in the $125,000 Fifth Season Stakes Jan. 13, Smack Smack is trying to become the first millionaire for Von Hemel, 82, Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 1981.
Dawn At Oaklawn
Jockeys Jon Court and Alex Birzer will be the special guests for Saturday’s Dawn At Oaklawn program (7:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Central).
Paddock analyst Nancy Holthus will interview the riders at approximately 8:30 a.m. on the south grandstand apron. Holthus said Court and Birzer will touch on their careers and discuss the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, which provides financial assistance to riders who have suffered catastrophic injuries.
PDJF Day Saturday at Oaklawn will include a jockey autograph session from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and PDJF T-shirts and hats for sale.
Court, Oaklawn’s leading rider in 2000, is one of only 71 jockeys with 4,000 career North American victories. The 56-year-old rider has 4,018 career victories, including 18 this year at Oaklawn to rank seventh in the standings. He has 633 career victories at Oaklawn. He currently has $99,464,046 in earnings and is trying to become the 50th jockey to reach $100 million in career North American purse earnings, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.
Birzer, 43, became the 174th jockey to reach 3,000 North American victories Feb. 26 at Oaklawn.
Birzer (3,003) recorded his 300th career Oaklawn victory March 4. He ranks sixth in this year’s standings with 20 victories.
My Sweet Stella is “50-50” for the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies April 14, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Friday morning. My Sweet Stella, in her last start, finished seventh in the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 11, the final major local prep for the Fantasy. Lukas said a grass race at Keeneland is another possible option for My Sweet Stella, runner-up in Oaklawn’s $125,000 Dixie Belle Stakes Jan. 21 and $125,000 Martha Washington Stakes Feb. 11. … Martha Washington-third Torrent is under consideration for the Fantasy and the $150,000 Beaumont Stakes (G3) April 9 at Keeneland, trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs said Thursday morning. “Trying to find the best place to get her graded stakes placed,” Moquett said. … Honeybee-eighth Someday Soon worked a half-mile in :49.80 Friday morning for trainer Will VanMeter, who said the daughter of Proud Citizen could run in an allowance race before the meeting ends April 15. In not, VanMeter said Thursday morning that Someday Soon will train up to the $75,000 Tomboy Stakes May 14 at Belterra. The Tomboy is restricted to Ohio-breds. … Lukas said Friday morning that Warrior’s Club, a second-level allowance/optional claiming winner Saturday, will “probably” make his next start in the $150,000 Northern Spur Stakes for 3-year-olds April 15. “He’ll run here or Keeneland,” Lukas said, referring to the colt’s next start. … High-percentage trainer Brad Cox sent out two winners Thursday, including Wabel in a split conditioned allowance/optional claiming sprint. Owned by Staton Flurry of Hot Springs, Wabel ran the second-fastest 6 furlongs of the 2016 Oaklawn meeting (1:09.03). Cox is 17 of 64 at the meeting (27 percent). … Sparkling March 11 debut winner Rapid Dial, a late Triple Crown nominee, is entered in an entry-level allowance/optional claiming sprint Sunday. Co-owner/trainer Ingrid Mason said Friday morning the 6-furlong race could serve as a prep for a closing-day stake. In addition to the Northern Spur, Oaklawn runs the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 15. Rapid Dial, from the first crop of Dialed In, is the 8-5 program favorite Sunday.