Oaklawn News

Petrov will be considered for a return to stakes action following his comeback victory in Sunday’s eighth race at Oaklawn, an allowance/optional claiming sprint, co-owner/trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs said.

Making his 4-year-old debut, Petrov recorded a 1 ¼-length victory under Richard Eramia, covering 6 furlongs over a muddy surface in 1:11.71. Petrov paid $6.40 as the 2-1 second choice.

“It was very impressive,” Moquett said. “He came out of the race very happy. We’ll evaluate and see what’s there.”

Moquett said he will “probably” stretch out Petrov, but whether that’s in a two-turn race at Oaklawn or out of town hasn’t been decided, adding it could be in a stakes race.

Oaklawn’s next two-turn stake for older horses is the $300,000 Essex Handicap March 17. Moquett already has Whitmore pointed for the $125,000 Hot Springs Stakes for older sprinters March 10.

Petrov hadn’t started since finishing a troubled ninth in the $200,000 Steel Valley Sprint Stakes Nov. 20 at Mahoning Valley. Petrov was the only horse to compete in all four of Oaklawn’s two-turn Kentucky Derby preps last year, finishing second in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes and $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3), fourth in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) and ninth in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1).

Petrov targeted sprints last summer and fall.

A gray son of Flatter, Petrov has a 4-3-1 record from 13 lifetime starts and earnings of $446,127. The colt races for Moquett’s Southern Springs Stables LLC, Rialto Racing Stables (Catherine Adams Hutt) and Head of Plains Partners (Sol Kumin).

Uncontested, who won last year’s Smarty Jones, finished second in Sunday’s race.
Cashing in – Again
Eskimo Kisses, 2.1.18, Oaklawn
Eskimo Kisses became the fifth Lasix-free winner of the meet with a powerful performance in Thursday’s eighth race, a first-level allowance/optional claimer for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles.

Eskimo Kisses, who was ridden by Alex Canchari, won by 11 ½ lengths in her first start without Lasix. Eskimo Kisses represented the third Lasix-free winner at the meet for trainer Kenny McPeek, who took the daughter of To Honor and Serve off the legal anti-bleeder medication to try and secure a bonus (10 percent of the winner’s share of the purse) Oaklawn offers.

Eskimo Kisses became the 19th Lasix-free winner since Oaklawn implemented its “Lasix-free Bonus Program” in 2015. McPeek and trainer Will VanMeter have had a record four Lasix-free winners.

Eskimo Kisses earned an additional $4,740 from an adjusted purse of $83,740. Total bonus money awarded under the program is $50,670, funds that are covered by Oaklawn and not its purse account.

Eskimo Kisses made her first four career starts on Lasix, including a Feb. 1 maiden victory.

McPeek nearly had another Lasix-free winner Thursday in Levanto, who finished second, beaten a neck, in the first race. The trainer said Sunday morning that he was taking horses off Lasix this week at Oaklawn because of the bonus.

Oaklawn had five Lasix-free winners in 2015, four in 2016 and five last year.
Back on Top
Ricardo Santana Jr., 1.27.18
Five-time defending champion Ricardo Santana won Thursday’s first race aboard Reverend Sam ($21) to take the outright lead in the rider standings for the first time this season.

Through 24 days, Santana has 23 victories, one more than newcomer David Cabrera, the leader most of the meeting.

Reverend Sam represented the 366th career Oaklawn victory for Santana and second with trainer John Henry Prather of Hot Springs. Their first victory together, Perfect Dream, paid $90.40 in his career-debut victory Feb. 9. It was Santana’s highest-priced winner in Hot Springs.

“When John Prather tells me, ‘This one can run a little bit’ and puts them in the right spot, I don’t question him,” Santana’s agent, Ruben Munoz, said in a text message. “He’s underrated.”

Santana won with two other first-time starters on the Feb. 9 card – South Beach ($5.60) and Tenfold ($13.20) – for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, the jockey’s main client.

Cabrera hasn’t ridden since recording a triple last Saturday because of a three-day riding suspension, stemming from a Jan. 13 incident. He withdrew his appeal and served those days Sunday, Monday and Thursday.

Cabrera is facing another three-day suspension (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) after stewards cited him for allowing his mount, United Stand, “to drift in and take the running path away from another horse” in the eighth race Feb. 11. United Stand was disqualified from second and placed fourth.

Cabrera is serving the first day of suspension Friday, but is appealing the final two days to the Arkansas Racing Commission and is named on five horses Saturday and eight Sunday.
Making a Point

Staton Flurry of Hot Springs has purchased a half-interest in unbeaten 3-year-old Exclamation Point, co-owner/breeder Brandi Nicholson said in a text message Friday morning.

Exclamation Point, a half-brother to champion and 2017 Arkansas Derby winner Classic Empire, was a front-running 2 ½-length winner of his Feb. 3 career debut sprinting for Brad Cox, who will continue to train the colt. Cox said the following morning that the chestnut son of Concord Point will probably make his next start around two turns.

Flurry already had horses with Cox, Oaklawn’s leading trainer this year, including multiple stakes winner Mr. Misunderstood.

“We are excited to have Flurry Racing Stables as our new partner!” Brandi Nicholson said.

Nicholson is also the co-owner/breeder of Red Ruby, who won the $125,000 Martha Washington Stakes for 3-year-old fillies Feb. 10. Red Ruby, who is trained by Kellyn Gorder, is scheduled to make her next start in the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 10.

Brandi Nicholson and husband Steve bred Classic Empire.
Finish Lines

There was an abbreviated training session Friday (7 a.m.-8:30 a.m., Central) because of continued heavy rainfall. The track is normally open for training from 7 a.m.-10:30 a.m. Oaklawn hasn’t had a fast track for racing since Feb. 9. … Rapid Dial, who won his first two career starts at the 2017 Oaklawn meeting, is scheduled to make his 4-year-old debut in Friday’s eighth race, an allowance/optional claiming sprint, for co-owner/trainer Ingrid Mason. … Limation, third behind Exclamation Point in his Feb. 3 career debut, is the 8-5 program favorite for Saturday’s sixth race, a maiden special weights sprint for 3-year-olds. …  Chris Hartman, Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 2015, now has the last two winners of the $125,000 King Cotton Stakes for older sprinters in his barn after claiming Storm Advisory out of a third-place finish in Sunday’s eighth race for $50,000. Hartman saddled Wilbo to win the King Cotton Feb. 3. … She Beast, a 3-year-old half-sister to Grade 1-sprinter The Big Beast, finished third in her career debut in Thursday’s seventh race. … Nominations to the $125,000 Spring Fever Stakes for older filly and mare sprinters and the $100,000 Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes for Arkansas-bred sprinters close Friday. Both races are March 3. … Multiple stakes winner Imma Bling, a Feb. 16 starter-allowance winner, will be nominated to the $125,000 Hot Springs Stakes for older sprinters March 10, owner Staton Flurry of Hot Springs said.