Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Next-race plans are pending for My Boy Jack, who was to be flown to his Southern California base Wednesday following a dominant performance in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds Monday at Oaklawn; She Beast, a 3-year-old half-sister to Grade 1-winning sprinter The Big Beast, is scheduled to make her career debut in Thursday’s seventh race for trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs and owners Alex and JoAnn Lieblong of Conway, Ark.
Plans Pending For Southwest Stakes Winner My Boy Jack
Next-race plans are pending for My Boy Jack, who was to be flown to his Southern California base Wednesday following a dominant performance in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds Monday at Oaklawn.
My Boy Jack earned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 93 – a career high – after winning the 1 1/16-mile race by 4 ½ lengths, equaling the second-largest margin of victory in the Southwest since 2003. The race was lengthened from a mile to 1 1/16 miles in 2013.
Trainer Keith Desormeaux said Monday night that his challenge now is to find the best route to the Kentucky Derby for My Boy Jack, who is owned by Don’t Tell My Wife Stables (Kirk Godbey and Rob Slack) and Monomoy Stables, LLC (Sol Kumin).
My Boy Jack has 12 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, including 10 for his Southwest victory, to rank 13th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard through Monday. The Kentucky Derby, to be run May 5 at Churchill Downs, is limited to 20 starters, with points earned in designated races like the Southwest used to determine starting preference if the race overfills.
Where My Boy Jack will attempt to increase his total next is up in the air, Desormeaux said. The trainer noted that that $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2) Saturday at Fair Grounds awarded 50 points to the winner.
“What it does to me, it kind of puts me in a tight spot because as a trainer, my first instinct, off of this race, and the body of work that this horse has – he’s had plenty of starts, he’s dead fit – I would totally just give him one more start before the Derby,” Desormeaux said. “But, because of this point system, I have to think about a fallback plan.”
Oaklawn’s Kentucky Derby prep series continues with the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 17 and $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 14.
The Rebel, like the Risen Star, awards 85 points to the top four finishers (50-20-10-5). The Arkansas Derby offers 170 points to the four finishers (100-40-20-10).
“If I do plan that one race, it wouldn’t be the Rebel,” Desormeaux said. “I would plan it like the Arkansas Derby or the Louisiana Derby, let’s say. If I did that, then I wouldn’t have time to get another race in him. It gets a little complicated. We’ll get together with the ownership and talk about all the pros and cons. Hopefully, we make the right decision.”
My Boy Jack, who was making his third start on dirt Monday, has a 2-3-1 record from eight career starts and earnings of $425,145.
The son of Creative Cause, in his return to dirt, was coming off a third-place finish in the $100,000 Sham Stakes (G3) Jan. 6 at Santa Anita. My Boy Jack was already a stakes winner on grass and ran seventh, beaten three lengths, in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) Nov. 3 at Del Mar.
Under a ground-saving ride Monday by the trainer’s younger brother, Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, My Boy Jack ran 1 1/16 miles over a muddy track in 1:46 and paid $19.60.
Combatant finished second, 2 ½ lengths ahead of Sporting Chance, who was making his first start since winning the $350,000 Hopeful Stakes (G1) Sept. 4 at Saratoga for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
The Lukas-trained Bravazo, a Jan. 13 allowance/optional claiming winner at Oaklawn, secured a spot in the Kentucky Derby with his victory in the Risen Star. Lukas said Sunday morning that his initial thought is to send Bravazo back to Fair Grounds for the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) March 24.
Bravazo (54 points) tops the Kentucky Derby leaderboard. Other Oaklawn-based horses on the list are No. 14 Combatant (12) for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and No. 26 Sporting Chance (2).
If two or more horses have the same number of points, the tiebreaker is earnings in
non-restricted stakes races.
Beast of Burden
She Beast, a 3-year-old half-sister to Grade 1-winning sprinter The Big Beast, is scheduled to make her career debut in Thursday’s seventh race for trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs and owners Alex and JoAnn Lieblong of Conway, Ark.
By The Factor, runaway winner of Oaklawn’s $300,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) in 2011, She Beast has had a series of sharp local works leading up to her career debut.
She Beast (3-1 on the morning line) is scheduled to break from the rail in the 6-furlong race under five-time defending Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr.
“With her family and watching her work like that, she is exciting,” said Alex Lieblong, chairman of the Arkansas Racing Commission.
The Big Beast, who was campaigned by the Lieblongs, finished a troubled second in his March 2014 career debut at Oaklawn before closing his abbreviated 3-year-old season with a victory $500,000 King’s Bishop Stakes (G1) that summer at Saratoga. The Big Beast was an allowance winner in his 4-year-old debut at the 2015 Oaklawn meeting.
Big Lute, a half-brother to The Big Beast and She Beast, was a sparkling winner of his career debut for the Lieblongs as a 3-year-old at the 2013 Oaklawn meeting.
The Big Beast (by Yes It’s True), Big Lute (Midnight Lute) and She Beast are out of the Deputy Minister mare, V V S Flawless.
While She Beast isn’t as imposing as The Big Beast, Alex Lieblong said the filly still stands out physically.
“Big Lute was big and stout, nothing like The Big Beast,” Lieblong said. “I think he (Big Lute) and She Beast are about the same. She doesn’t look feminine.”
Asked if it was easy to name She Beast, Lieblong said, “Yeah, that came to me pretty quick.”
The Lieblongs originally purchased She Beast for $350,000 at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky’s 2015 Fall Mixed Sale. They have an unnamed 2-year-old colt by Malibu Moon out of V V S Flawless and also stand The Big Beast at Ocala Stud in Florida.
Eskimo Kisses is scheduled to make her first start without Lasix in Thursday’s eighth race, a first-level allowance/optional claimer for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles.
Trainer Kenny McPeek said he’s trying to again cash in on Oaklawn’s “Lasix-free Bonus Program,” which offers a 10 percent hike to the winner’s share of the purse for any horse winning without the legal anti-bleeder medication.
McPeek has been among the most successful trainers since the Lasix-free program debut at the 2015 meeting. He’s had three Lasix-free winners overall, including two this year (Rated R Superstar and Blueridge Traveler).
Blueridge Traveler, coming off Lasix, was a Feb. 10 allowance winner and collected an additional $4,560 from an adjusted purse of $80,560.
“I think it’s overrated, myself,” McPeek said of Lasix. “I’ve had plenty of horses that have won nice races without it. It’s one of those hot-button topics, but I think it’s overrated. I don’t think that many horses need it.
Certainly, not 98-percent plus of the horse population needs it. When they give away an added 10 percent, we’ll take it.”
McPeek said Blueridge Ridge was taken off Lasix to chase the bonus and is running “some other horses this week with the same notion – horses that I don’t truly think need it.”
“I tip my hat to Oaklawn over this topic,” McPeek said. “I think it’s really great that they are doing this.”
Eskimo Kisses broke her maiden Feb. 1 in her last start (fourth career race on Lasix).
The 18 Lasix-free winners at Oaklawn since 2015, including four this year, have totaled $45,930 in bonus money, which comes from the track and not its purse account.
Perfect Wife, who ran in the $125,000 Martha Washington Stakes and $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies last year at Oaklawn, has been retired and is to be bred to 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner, said Kenny McPeek, who trained the stakes-winning daughter of Majesticperfection. McPeek said Perfect Wife, the only one of 11 Honeybee starters not to return and win, was injured last fall. Gun Runner won the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses last year at Oaklawn in his 4-year-old debut. … Trainer Keith Desormeaux said Sonneteer, 10th as the 4-1 program favorite in Monday’s $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3), didn’t handle the muddy surface and would avoid racing over off tracks in the future. … Entries were to be drawn Wednesday for two stakes races Saturday – $125,000 Gazebo for 3-year-old sprinters and $100,000 Downthedustyroad for Arkansas-bred female sprinters.