Unbeaten Amy’s Challenge remains under consideration for the $125,000 Martha Washington Stakes for 3-year-old fillies Feb. 10, trainer Mac Robertson said Saturday morning. The 1-mile Martha Washington is Oaklawn’s first major two-turn prep for the Kentucky Oaks, a series that continues with the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 10 and the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 13.
In her 3-year-old debut and first start against females, Amy’s Challenge was a neck winner of the $125,000 Dixie Belle Stakes Jan. 20 to remain unbeaten in three lifetime starts. Robertson said immediately following the 6-furlong Dixie Belle that he planned to stretch out Amy’s Challenge in her next start.
“If she works, she’ll be running in there,” Robertson said of the Martha Washington. “I’d like to run March 10, but if the race comes up light, I’ll work her and I’ll run her.”
Robertson trains Amy’s Challenge – 2 for 2 last year at Canterbury Park, including the $75,000 Shakopee Juvenile Stakes Sept. 16 – for longtime client Novogratz Racing Stables Inc.
At least three locally based horses are pointing for the Martha Washington – Cosmic Burst, Sassy Sienna and Red Ruby. Cosmic Burst has won her last three starts, including the $100,000 Trapeze Stakes Dec. 17 at Remington Park to close her 2-year-old campaign.
“She’s doing good,” trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel said Friday morning. “Everything looks good.”
Sassy Sienna finished fifth in the Trapeze for trainer Brad Cox before bouncing back with a 9 ½-length first-level allowance/optional claiming victory Jan. 15 under Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens.
Red Ruby exits a 3 ½-length maiden victory Nov. 25 at Churchill Downs for trainer Kellyn Gorder.
Nominations to the Martha Washington closed Friday. Post positions will be drawn Wednesday.
Back to Work
Multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Whitmore returned to the work tab Saturday morning, breezing a half-mile in company over a fast track for co-owner/trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs.
Whitmore, who worked with 2016 Springboard Mile runner-up Totality, was credited with a half-mile in :49.40 and galloping out 5 furlongs in 1:02. Totality received the same half-mile time (:49.40).
Moquett said Whitmore will make his 5-year-old debut in the $125,000 Hot Springs Stakes for older sprinters March 10.
Whitmore was the top sprinter at the 2017 Oaklawn meeting, winning all three starts, including the Hot Springs and $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3). Moquett said the major spring objective for Whitmore is the $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 14.
Whitmore hasn’t started since finishing eighth in the $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) Nov. 4 at Del Mar. Moquett owns the Pleasantly Perfect gelding with Robert LaPenta and Head of Plains Partners LLC.
Also returning to the work tab Saturday morning for Moquett was Petrov, runner-up in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes and $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) last year at Oaklawn.
Petrov worked a half-mile in :49.80 in preparation for his comeback, which Moquett said would come in an allowance race. After beginning 2017 on the Kentucky Derby trail, Petrov targeted sprints in late summer and fall.
Petrov, who is campaigned by Moquett, Catherine Adams Hutt and Head of Plains Partners LLC, hasn’t started since finishing ninth in the $200,000 Steel Valley Sprint Stakes Nov. 20 at Mahoning Valley.
The Moquett-trained She Beast, a 3-year-old half-sister to Grade 1 winner The Big Beast, moved closer to her career debut with a sharp work in company Saturday morning.
She Beast, who breezed with Water Moccasin, an unstarted 3-year-old Uncle Mo colt, was credited with the 5-furlong bullet (1:00.60) and galloping out 6 furlongs in 1:13.40. Water Moccasin was credited with 5 furlongs in 1:01.
She Beast, a daughter of The Factor, is owned by Alex and JoAnn Lieblong of Conway, Ark., who also campaigned The Big Beast.
The Big Beast finished a troubled second in his March 2014 career debut at Oaklawn before winning the $500,000 King’s Bishop Stakes (G1) later in the year at Saratoga. The Big Beast was an allowance winner in his 4-year-old debut at the 2015 Oaklawn meeting.
The Lieblongs purchased She Beast for $350,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s 2015 Kentucky Fall Mixed Sale.
The Factor won the $300,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) in 2011 at Oaklawn for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
Whitmore, Petrov and She Beast breezed moments after the track opened.
Red-hot trainer Brad Cox had two victories for the third consecutive race day Friday to stretch his lead in the trainer standings.
Cox won the first race with favored Alithia ($4.40) and the sixth race with Cheponera ($42.80). Both winners were ridden by newcomer Fernando De La Cruz.
Cox also had two victories Sunday – Oso Ready ($8.60) and favored Five O One ($3.40) – and two more Thursday – favored Electric Avenue ($5) and favored Sworn Silence ($4).
Cox has 10 victories following his recent surge, four more than eight-time Oaklawn champion Steve Asmussen, 2015 Oaklawn champion Chris Hartman and Ron Moquett of Hot Springs.
Cox has started 23 horses through the first 12 days of racing.
Five O One, a son of 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Drosselmeyer, was a sharp 4 1/4-length winner of his allowance comeback sprint. Cox was using the race as a prep for the $100,000 Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes March 3.
Five O One captured his first two career starts last year at Oaklawn, including the $100,000 Rainbow Stakes for 3-year-old Arkansas-bred colts and geldings, before finishing third in an allowance/optional claimer last April.
Five O One was turned out following his first career loss to point for a 2018 Oaklawn campaign.
Following the Nodouble, Cox said he hopes to stretch out Five O One in the $100,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes at 1 1/16 miles April 7. Five O One races for Staton Flurry of Hot Springs.
Cox finished third in the Oaklawn standings last year with 26 victories, a single-season career high in Hot Springs.
A double Friday for 2000 Oaklawn riding champion Jon Court pushed his career total to 649 in Hot Springs, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Court won the third race aboard Kauai Nana ($21.60) for trainer Rick Jackson and the ninth race aboard Fetch’s Mon ($7.60) for trainer Jinks Fires of Hot Springs, the jockey’s father-in-law. Court, 57, began riding at Oaklawn in 1981 and has career purse earnings of $16,933,977 in Hot Springs. He is tied for third in this year's standings with seven victories. … Black Hawk Stable (James Rogers) moved to 5 for 5 at the meeting with a victory by favored Cash Bonus ($6.40) in Friday’s second race for Chris Hartman. Hartman saddled eight consecutive winners for Black Hawk at the 2015 Oaklawn meeting (March 27-April 11) en route to his first training title in Hot Springs. … First post Sunday is 1:05 p.m. (Central) – 30 minutes earlier than usual – because of the Super Bowl. Probable post time for the ninth and final race is 4:52 p.m.