Photo attached: Credit Coady Photography
Channing Hill was aboard Gray Attempt for the first time in a 5-furlong workout Wednesday morning at Oaklawn. But horse and rider already had a little history.
Hill, riding Manny Wah for his father-in-law, trainer Wayne Catalano, finished second to Gray Attempt in the $75,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes Dec. 22 at Fair Grounds. Gray Attempt was a front-running length winner in his stakes debut for trainer Jinks Fires of Hot Springs and owner Dwight Pruett of Texarkana, Ark.
“I don’t feel as bad after getting beat by him the other day,” Hill said moments after the breezing the colt. “I don’t feel as bad now. I don’t get too many spots at the top of the lane where I think I’m the winner and I’m wrong. I was dead wrong the other day. I thought I had him at every stage.”
Breezing for the first time since the Sugar Bowl, Gray Attempt went in 1:01.60 over a fast track, galloping out 6 furlongs in 1:13.60 and 7 furlongs in 1:27.40. Fires is pointing Gray Attempt for the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 25, a 1-mile race that is Oaklawn’s first of four major Kentucky Derby preps.
“He’s a lot of class,” Hill said. “I don’t think Jinks will have any issue going two turns with him.”
Gray Attempt was ridden in the Sugar Bowl by Shaun Bridgmohan.
Nominations to the Smarty Jones close Thursday, with post positions to be drawn Jan. 18.
Gray Attempt, a winner of 2 of 3 career starts, has never raced around two turns.
Jockey Stewart Elliott Returns to Oaklawn Full Time
The ultra-popular Smarty Jones retired from racing in 2004, but his jockey is still around. And for the first time in more than a decade, Stewart Elliott will be around Oaklawn as a regular member of the riding colony when the 2019 meeting begins Jan. 25.
Elliott, 53, spent the last few years based in Southern California, but said he has relocated to the Midwest to be closer to home.
“Kind of got homesick, actually,” Elliott said Wednesday morning. “My house has been sitting empty for three years in Kentucky. Just kind of wanted to get out of California, I guess. It was good. I planned on going for like a year and ended up being there for three years.”
Elliott rocketed to stardom in 2004 by guiding Smarty Jones to within a length of the Triple Crown.
Trained by John Servis, Smarty Jones wintered in Hot Springs and was named the country’s champion 3-year-old male after winning Oaklawn’s Southwest Stakes, Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby and the first two legs of the Triple Crown. The colt collected Oaklawn’s $5 million “Centennial Bonus” by sweeping the Rebel, Arkansas Derby and Kentucky Derby and graced the cover of Sports Illustrated after winning the Run for the Roses. The Centennial Bonus commemorated Oaklawn’s 100th anniversary.
Elliott rode regularly at Oaklawn in 2006 and 2007, recording a combined 53 victories.
“It’s always been a fun meet, a good meet,” Elliott said. “The people are so into it and everything. Like the first night I pulled in here, I went into the restaurant and the lady, I guess with my size, she figured I was a jockey. People are just so into the racing. It’s kind of like a different place, really.”
Elliott’s agent is Jay Fedor, who represented another Southern California-based rider at last year’s meeting, the now-retired Hall of Famer Gary Stevens. Elliott said he and Fedor had discussed returning to Oaklawn in 2018, adding Stevens eventually recommended the agent.
Elliott has had only three mounts at Oaklawn since 2007. Overall, he has 58 victories in Hot Springs, including 11 stakes.
“I always loved it here,” Elliott said. “Kind of good timing to come over here.”
Six Shooter returned to the track Wednesday morning at Oaklawn to begin preparations for the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes for 3-year-olds Jan. 25, trainer Paul Holthus of Hot Springs said.
A gelded son of Trappe Shot, Six Shooter has flourished since being claimed for $20,000 out of his Sept. 20 career debut at Churchill Downs. Under Holthus’ care, Six Shooter broke his maiden Oct. 17 at Indiana Grand, was a Nov. 25 allowance winner at Churchill Downs and captured the $75,000 Big Drama Stakes Saturday night at Delta Downs.
Six Shooter ($5.20) won the 7 ½-furlong Big Drama by 1 ¼ lengths after receiving a rail-skimming ride by Tommy Pompell.
“He ran a good race,” Holthus said Thursday morning.
Six Shooter was coming off a troubled 11th in the $400,000 Springboard Mile Dec. 16 at Remington Park. Six Shooter, who had recorded a half-mile bullet workout (:47.80) Dec. 10 at Oaklawn, was bumped in mid-stretch after making a four-wide move toward the leaders on the second turn.
“It was a funky, weird-run race,” Holthus said. “I’m not real sure what happened. I still think he’s a good enough horse to compete with those horses. He was two lengths off the lead at the eighth pole and he just got completely sawed off.”
Six Shooter races for Holthus and wife Nancy (N P H Stable), Dundalk 5 LLC (Tim Kindlon) and Wes Herek. The gelding has a 3-0-3 record from seven starts and lifetime earnings of $123,850.
The track was rated fast for workouts Thursday morning at Oaklawn. … Newcomers to the 2019 riding colony also include Jermaine Bridgmohan and Southern California-based 7-pound apprentice Luis Fuentes, who will be represented by agent Joe Santos. Bobby Dean will book mounts for Bridgmohan, the brother of jockey Shaun Bridgmohan. … Jockey Walter De La Cruz, who won 60 races at Oaklawn in 2015-2017, is returning to Hot Springs following a one-year absence. His brother, jockey Fernando De La Cruz, is also wintering at Oaklawn. … Edgar Morales, Oaklawn’s leading apprentice jockey in 2018 and a finalist for an Eclipse Award as the country’s top apprentice of last year, is scheduled to arrive in Hot Springs Monday to being preparing for the 2019 meeting, said his agent, Julio Espinoza. … Nominations to the $100,000 American Beauty Stakes for older female sprinters Jan. 26 at Oaklawn closed Thursday. … Allen Milligan, Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 2009, had 998 career victories through Wednesday, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.