HOT SPRINGS, AR (Friday, Feb. 9, 2018) – A well-matched field of six is entered in the $125,000 Martha Washington Stakes for 3-year-old fillies Saturday at Oaklawn.
Probable post time for the 1-mile Martha Washington, the eighth of nine races, is 4:38 p.m. (Central). Doors open Saturday at 11 a.m., with first post 1:05 p.m.
Cosmic Burst, unbeaten in three consecutive route races, is the 9-5 program favorite for trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel, who won the 2006 Martha Washington with Brownie Points. The filly is coming off a 5 ¼-length victory in the $100,000 Trapeze Stakes Dec. 17 at Remington Park.
“We’re happy to get the year started,” Von Hemel said. “I guess as a trainer there’s always a question in your mind, especially with the time we’ve missed in January (weather) and all. Are you ready to go? But I think she is.”
The Martha Washington field from the rail out: Secret Passion, Edwin Maldonado to ride, 119 pounds, 12-1; Sassy Sienna, Gary Stevens, 119, 5-2; Red Ruby, Robby Albarado, 115, 9-2; Grats Road, Rayan Gazader, 115, 30-1; Cosmic Burst, Richard Eramia, 122, 9-5; and Tyfosha, Alex Canchari, 115 2-1.
The Martha Washington is Oaklawn’s first of three major preps 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. The race offers 17 points (10-4-2-1) to the top four finishers toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Oaks.
Von Hemel trains Cosmic Burst for Norma Lee Stockseth and Todd Dunn. Stockseth purchased the filly for $25,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
Von Hemel said he picked out Cosmic Burst, who is from the first crop of red-hot stallion Violence
“The yearlings looked so good that I just didn’t want to leave Keeneland without having one,” Von Hemel said. “We got outbid on several. Sometimes, you just get lucky. We got one at a very reasonable price and it turns out she can run.”
Cosmic Burst has a 3-1-0 record from four lifetime starts and earnings of $134,580.
Sassy Sienna punched her ticket to the Martha Washington with a 9 ½-length entry-level allowance/optional claiming victory Jan. 15 for leading trainer Brad Cox. She was coming a sluggish fifth-place finish in the Trapeze.
“The only thing I could come up with was the Remington race was just a throw out, I suppose,” Cox said. “She was training extremely well going into the race, but she ran a flat race.”
Cox said Sassy Sienna trained “extremely well” leading up to her allowance/optional claiming blowout. She tuned up for the Martha Washington with a sharp 5-furlong work Sunday morning (1:00.20), the second-fastest of 34 times recorded at the distance.
“I was there for her breeze on Sunday and it was fantastic,” Cox said. “She breezed as good as a racehorse could breeze. That’s a positive, but we do know with her that, honestly, she’s never worked bad. It’s going to be (a positive) if she’s good enough to compete. It’s not a big field, but it’s a very competitive field. I think it’s a very, very good race.”
Sassy Sienna will be making her first start for Medallion Racing (Phillip Shelton and Marshall Taylor) and Jerry McClanahan after the Lexington, Ky.-based ownership group privately purchased the filly from Zayat Stables, Cox said.
Tyfosha will be making her stakes and two-turn debut for trainer Doug O’Neill after breaking her maiden by 4 ¼ lengths Jan. 21. She ran second in her first three career starts last summer in Southern California, once to Eclipse Awards finalist Moonshine Memories.
The promising Red Ruby, a daughter of 2000 Horse of the Year Tiznow, will be making her 3-year-old and stakes debut for trainer Kellyn Gorder after breaking her maiden at 1 1/16 miles Nov. 25 at Churchill Downs.