HOT SPRINGS, AR (Saturday, April 20, 2019) – On a sun-drenched afternoon, the first post-Arkansas Derby Saturday of racing in Oaklawn’s 115-year history, it was the 3-year-old Arkansas-breds that shined brightly before a crowd of 12,000. Bill Gossage’s Tapit Star won the $100,000 Rainbow Stakes, while two races later Alex and JoAnn Lieblong’s Bye Bye J won the $100,000 Rainbow Miss Stakes.
In the Rainbow, the heavy 3-5 favorite Tapit Star pressed Rusty Cage through opening fractions of :22 and :45 3/5 before assuming a short lead at the head of the stretch. Under a confident ride from Walter De La Cruz, he drew away from his competition to win easily by two lengths over the closing Young Bull in 1:11 1/5 for six furlongs over a fast track. Rusty Cage held on to be third.
“It turned out perfect for us,” trainer Burl McBride said. “We were just going to lay off the speed, take aim at him (Rusty Cage). And yes, he did get a little hot in the paddock and they kept them in there a long time. But it worked out all right. This horse is just getting better.”
“It’s a spectacular feeling when you watch something like that, when they’re little, when you first get them,” owner Bill Gossage said. “They grow up and they run. It’s just a great feeling.”
Tapit Star, a Double Irish colt, improved his record to 2-2-0 in five starts and has now earned $145,470. He paid $3.20, $2.40 and $2.20.
In the Rainbow Miss, Bye Bye J, the prohibitive 1-5 favorite, tracked the pace from fourth as Tiger Bait led the field through early fractions of :22 3/5 and :47 1/5 for the first half mile. The winner came four wide into the stretch, grabbed the lead and drew off to win by 1 ¾ lengths under leading rider Ricardo Santana Jr. She completed the six furlong race in 1:11 3/5.
“Ricardo (Santana) knows how to win races here,” winning trainer Ron Moquett said. “We didn’t give him a whole lot of explanation of what to do. We just said, ‘Find a good spot and finish up strong.’”
“What she’s shown and what she did at 7 furlongs in the Forward Gal, I think she can go a little bit farther,” winning owner Alex Lieblong said. “We’ll see if he (Moquett) can get her to go a little bit farther.”
Bye Bye J, an Uncaptured filly who had been purchased privately after finishing second in the Grade 3 Forward Gal Stakes at Gulfstream Park Feb. 2, won her second Oaklawn race in three starts and improved her overall record to 4-1-1 in seven starts with earnings of $221,605. She paid $2.60, $2.10 and $2.10.
Oaklawn is closed Sunday, April 21 in observance of the Easter holiday. Live racing resumes Thursday, April 25 with a 1:30 p.m. first post. Live racing continues through Saturday, May 4.