Oaklawn News

Monday’s card at Oaklawn, the richest Presidents’ Day card in the country, drew a total of 97 entries, highlighted by 11-horse fields in both the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) and $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3). The Southwest, which offers 17 total points toward Kentucky Derby eligibility, is carded as the ninth at 5:10 p.m. and the Razorback is one race earlier at 4:35 p.m.

“Monday’s card shaped up to be the best Presidents’ Day cards in Oaklawn’s history,” General Manager Wayne Smith said. “It’s certainly the best card in North America this day. We don’t just have the leading owners, trainers and jockeys competing in the two stakes, they’re competing throughout the entire card. We’re proud of the large field sizes and the competitive races our Racing Office has put together.”

The $500,000 Southwest Stakes is shaping up to be a clash of Smarty Jones Stakes winner Mourinho,  and Grade 1 winner Sporting Chance, who is making is 3-year-old debut in the leading Kentucky Derby prep race. Mourinho, who drew post four, and Sporting Chance, who drew post two, are trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert and D. Wayne Lukas, respectively, who between them have won 25 individual Triple Crown races.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who won the Southwest Stakes last year with One Liner, has sent recent maiden winner Road to Damascus from South Florida for the 1 1/16 mile race, while eight-time Oaklawn leading trainer Steve Asmussen leads all conditioners with four entries, including Smarty Jones runner up Combatant and Lecomte Stakes (G3) runner up Zing Zang.

The complete $500,000 Southwest Stakes field, in post position order, with riders: My Boy Jack (Kent Desormeaux); Sporting Chance (Luis Saez); Principe Guilherme (Florent Geroux); Mourinho (Drayden Van Dyke); Road to Damascus (John Velazquez); Seven Trumpets (Robby Albarado); Retirement Fund (Shaun Bridgmohan); Zing Zang (Corey Lanerie); Kentucky Club (Ramon Vazquez); Combatant (Ricardo Santana Jr.), and Ezmosh (Gary Stevens).
Soneteer, The Fifth Season, 1.12.18, Oaklawn
Leading the Razorback Handicap is Calumet Farm’s Sonneteer, who returns to Oaklawn from his South California base after winning the $125,000 Fifth Season Stakes Jan. 13. Last year, while still a maiden, he finished second in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) and fourth in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1). The 4-year-old Midnight Lute colt drew post six and will be ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, brother of trainer Keith Desormeaux.

The complete field for the $500,000 Razorback Handicap, in post position order, with riders: Untrapped (Ricardo Santana Jr.); Far Right (Gary Stevens); Hawaakom (Corey Lanerie); J Boys Echo (Robby Albarado); Leofric (Luis Saez); Sonneteer (Kent Desormeaux); Shotgun Kowboy (Luis Quinonez); Rated R Superstar (Channing Hill); Rocking the Boat (Fernando De La Cruz); Futile (Luis Contreras), and The Lieutenant (Dryden Van Dyke).

In addition to the two stakes, Oaklawn’s Presidents’ Day card features three $78,000 maiden special weights, two $79,000 allowance optional claiming races and one $81,000 allowance race.

Petrov Returns Sunday

Multiple stakes runner-up Petrov is scheduled to launch his 4-year-old campaign in Sunday’s eighth race at Oaklawn, an allowance/optional claimer for older horses at 6 furlongs.

Co-owned and trained by Ron Moquett of Hot Springs, Petrov finished second in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes and $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) – Oaklawn’s first two major Kentucky Derby preps – before concentrating on sprints last summer and fall.

Petrov hasn’t started since finishing last of nine in the $200,000 Steel Valley Sprint Stakes Nov. 20 at Mahoning Valley under Eclipse Award-winning jockey Jose Ortiz.

“Got wiped out,” Moquett said, referring to traffic trouble in the upper stretch. “It was a weird surface and we got taken out and just lost all shot, so the jockey just took care of us.”

Moquett said he decided to sprint Petrov in his comeback spot because of the way he’s been training. Petrov won allowance races sprinting in August at Saratoga and in October at Keeneland.

Petrov has recorded two half-mile works this month, the last a :47.20 bullet last Friday.

“He’s training so forward that I think it’s in his best interest to give him a race,” Moquett said. “It’s just a steppingstone to get him back to the races. We’re going to evaluate what we’ve got here. These are some nice, proven class horses. We’re the one with the fitness disadvantage. This is probably as short as I’ve ever brought a horse to the races. This is also what I think is the best thing for this horse.”

Petrov, a gray son of Flatter, has a 3-3-1 record from 12 lifetime starts and earnings of $397,527.  The colt races for Moquett’s Southern Springs Stables LLC, Rialto Racing Stables (Catherine Adams Hutt) and Head of Plains Partners (Sol Kumin).

Petrov is scheduled to face six rivals Sunday, including 2017 Smarty Jones winner Uncontested and Storm Advisory, winner of the $125,000 King Cotton Stakes for older sprinters last year at Oaklawn.
Joining the Club?

Warrior’s Club returned to the work tab Friday morning, covering a half-mile in company in :48.80 over a muddy surface moments after the track opened for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

Warrior’s Club was a sharp 3 ¾-length winner of his last start, a Feb. 8 allowance/optional claiming sprint, under Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens. Lukas said Wednesday morning that he is under consideration for the $125,000 Hot Springs Stakes for older sprinters March 10.

“Isn’t that a beautiful little horse?” Lukas said.

Warrior’s Club races for the non-profit Churchill Downs Racing Club, which was formed in the spring of 2016 to give fans an opportunity to experience lost-cost, lost-risk ownership. The 200 memberships for a one-time cost of $500 were sold out in one day.

Privately purchased for $55,000, Warrior’s Club broke his maiden in the $300,000 Spendthrift Stallion Stakes in October 2016 at Churchill Downs, was allowance winner last March at Oaklawn, second in the $150,000 Northern Spur Stakes last April at Oaklawn and a strong second to 2017 Dubai World Cup third Neolithic in an allowance race last August at Saratoga.

Overall, Warrior’s Club, a 4-year-old son of Warrior’s Reward, has a 4-4-4 record from 20 lifetime starts and earnings of $365,379.

“I was a little disappointed I didn’t nominate him for the Razorback,” Lukas said. “I’m not even thinking that direction, but, hell, I’m not so sure if he was eligible I wouldn’t run him in there.”

Monday’s $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses at 1 1/16 miles.

Since breaking his maiden in his sixth career start, Warrior’s Club has recorded eight top three finishes.

“I told the club members the other day that he is so easy to train that a used car salesman can train him,” Lukas said. “You can go down to Riser Ford and get a guy right out of the office and train him.”

Horses pointing for the Hot Springs include defending champion Whitmore and Wilbo and Ivan Fallunovalot, 1-2, respectively, in the $125,000 King Cotton Stakes Feb. 3.
Morales OK

Edgar Morales, Oaklawn’s leading apprentice jockey this year, is planning to ride Friday after escaping serious injury in Thursday’s fifth race, his agent, Julio Espinoza, said Thursday night.

Morales was unseated shortly after the start of the sprint for older $10,000 Arkansas-bred filly and mare claimers when his mount, Florida Bird, “broke outward” and “stumbled in tight quarters,” according to footnotes from the official race chart.

Morales, 19, was placed on a backboard and transported by ambulance to CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs for further examination. Espinoza said Morales only suffered bruising above his right hip and was “back home” Thursday night after being released. He is named on five horses Friday.

“We’re fine,” Espinoza said.

Morales, a native of Puerto Rico, has ridden three winners at Oaklawn, including a front-running 4 ¼-length score in Sunday’s fifth race, a 1 ½-mile starter allowance for older horses.

Morales recorded his first North American victory Oct. 15 at Keeneland for the late Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg and had eight winners overall in 2017, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.

Florida Bird was captured without incident following the race.
Finish Lines

Oaklawn debut winner and 2017 West Virginia Derby champ Colonelsdarktemper recorded his first breeze of 2018 Friday morning, covering 3 furlongs in :37.40 over a muddy track for trainer Jinks Fires of Hot Springs. … Lone Star Park announcer Jim Byers will call races Friday, filling in for Vic Stauffer (illness) on a “day-to-day basis.” Byers called the final race Feb. 8 and complete cards last Friday, Saturday and Sunday while Stauffer, in his second season as Oaklawn’s announcer, competed in the 19th NTRA National Horseplayers Championship in Las Vegas. … Swing and Sway is pointing for the $125,000 Spring Fever Stakes for older female sprinters March 3, trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs said Friday morning. Swing and Sway won the $125,000 American Beauty Stakes Jan. 27 in her last start. … Trainer Johnny Ortiz won a 12-way shake to claim Oro Bird for $8,000 out of a victory in Thursday’s fourth race. … Oaklawn surpassed $2 million in claims at the meet Sunday (the 18th day of racing) when Eton Ridge was claimed out of the eighth race for $40,000. … Nominations to the $125,000 Gazebo Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters and $100,000 Downthedustyroad Breeders’ Stakes for older Arkansas-bred female sprinters Feb. 24 close Friday. … Oaklawn’s annual progressive cash giveaway is Sunday.