Oaklawn-raced horses excelled during the annual Iowa Festival of Racing Friday and Saturday at Prairie Meadows, winning six of the eight stakes races carded.
Headlining the Hot Springs contingent was Phoenix Thoroughbred III and KatieRich Stables’ Lady Apple, who edged Ulele by a half-length to win the $200,000 Iowa Oaks (G3) for 3-year-old fillies. A daughter of two-time Horse of the Year and multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Curlin, Lady Apple won Oaklawn’s signature race for 3-year-old fillies, the $500,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 12, to complete a 3 for 3 campaign in Hot Springs.
Lady Apple has flourished since moving to two-turn races for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, winning 4 of 5 starts this year. Her only blemish is a third-place finish in the $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) May 3 at Churchill Downs, a 1 1/8-mile race that is the country’s biggest prize for 3-year-old fillies.
The Iowa Oaks was a match race between even-money favorite Lady Apple and the Brad Cox-trained Ulele, who broke her maiden Jan. 27 at Oaklawn.
Under six-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr., Lady Apple tracked Ulele through splits of :23.36 for the opening quarter, :47.39 for a half-mile and 1:11.64 for three-quarters of a mile. Lady Apple engaged Uele on the outside turning for home and edged clear in deep stretch. It was 8 1/2 lengths back to Oaklawn-raced Taylor’s Spirit in third.
Carrying top weight of 121 pounds, Lady Apple ($4) ran 1 1/16 miles over a fast track in 1:43.33. Lady Apple won for the fourth time in nine lifetime starts to raise her earnings to $685,950. Asmussen saddled Curlin to win the Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby in 2007, the same year he captured his first of 10 Oaklawn training titles to date.
In Friday’s $100,000 Iowa Sprint Handicap, D’ Rapper ($6.20) beat heavily favored Share the Upside by 1 ¼ lengths under Ramon Vazquez, perennially among Oaklawn’s leading jockeys.
D’ Rapper was claimed for $40,000 March 2 at Oaklawn by trainer Federico Villafranco on behalf of Danny Caldwell, a four-time leading owner in Hot Springs. Share the Upside was a two-time allowance winner this year at Oaklawn for Asmussen. D’ Rapper ran 6 furlongs over a fast track in 1:08.78.
Oaklawn-raced horses swept Saturday’s four stakes races.
Moonlit Garden, who was making her first start for Cox, was an 8 ½-length winner of the $100,000 Iowa Distaff at 1 1/16 miles under Florent Geroux. Moonlit Garden finished third in the $200,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) for older fillies and mares Feb. 18 at Oaklawn. Moonlit Garden paid $4 as the heavy favorite in the Iowa Distaff. Oaklawn winners Summer’s Indy and Girl Power were second and third, respectively.
The speedy Shanghai Tariff ($11.20) won the $100,000 Saylorville Stakes for female sprinters under Alex Canchari, an Oaklawn regular. Oaklawn winners Shabang Baby and Pretty Greeley finished second and third, respectively.
Shanghai Tariff is campaigned by trainer Jimmy DiVito and owner Richard Templer (Doubledown Stables, Inc.), who teamed for six victories this year at Oaklawn. Shanghai Tariff represented two of the victories, both in allowance company.
Earlier on Saturday’s card, heavily favored Mywomanfromtokyo ($2.80) won the $65,000 Hawkeyes Handicap for trainer Kelly Von Hemel – an Oaklawn regular – and Net Gain ($8) won the $65,000 Cyclones Handicap. Both races were restricted to Iowa-breds.
The Asmussen-trained Shang – via a disqualification for stretch interference – was elevated to second in Friday’s $250,000 Iowa Derby. Shang finished 10th in the inaugural $300,000 Oaklawn Invitational for 3-year-olds May 4.
Defending champion Remembering Rita finished third in Friday’s $300,000 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (G3) for trainer Doug Anderson of Hot Springs. Remembering Rita finished fourth in the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses April 13 at Oaklawn.
Oaklawn maiden special weights winner Hot Shot Kid ($7.60) captured the $50,000 Minnesota Turf Stakes Wednesday at Canterbury Park for trainer Mac Robertson. … Multiple Oaklawn winner Ray’swarrior ($3) captured the $75,000 Rumson Stakes Thursday at Monmouth Park. … Oaklawn-raced Peruvian Appeal ran third in the $150,000 Victory Ride Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old female sprinters Friday at Belmont Park. … Multiple Oaklawn allowance winner Warrior’s Club finished second in the $300,000 John A. Nerud Stakes (G2) Saturday at Belmont Park for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Lukas was Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 1987 and 2011. … Oaklawn-raced Rowayton finished third in the $250,000 Dwyer Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds Saturday at Belmont Park. … Proverb, third in the inaugural $300,000 Oaklawn Invitational for 3-year-olds May 4 at Oaklawn, sold for $220,000 Monday at Fasig-Tipton’s July Selected Horses of Racing Age Sale. Proverb, who broke his maiden March 16 at Oaklawn for trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs, was scratched from the $250,000 Iowa Derby last Friday at Prairie Meadows.