Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen’s multiple Oaklawn stakes winners Mitole and Midnight Bisou continue to position themselves for year-end honors following sterling performances Saturday at Belmont Park.
Mitole became the third consecutive Oaklawn-raced horse to capture the prestigious $1.2 million Met Mile (G1) to remain unbeaten in four starts this year. Midnight Bisou is also 4 for 4 this year after winning the $700,000 Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1) for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles.
Mitole ($9) stretched his winning streak to seven by holding off favored McKinzie by three-quarters of a length under six-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. Santana and Asmussen, a 10-time Oaklawn training champion, teamed to win last year’s Met Mile with Bee Jersey, a 2018 allowance winner in Hot Springs. Mor Spirit won Oaklawn’s $250,000 Essex Handicap and the Met Mile in 2017 for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
“I’m very proud of that effort against such a strong field assembled for this year’s Met Mile,” Asmussen said.
Mitole is a five-time Oaklawn winner, including the $150,000 Bachelor Stakes last year and the $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 13. Mitole broke his maiden and was an allowance winner in 2018 at Oaklawn and a March 2 allowance winner in Hot Springs.
Mitole, who ran the mile over a fast track in 1:32.75, won for the eighth time in 11 lifetime starts to raise his earnings to $1,642,910.
Midnight Bisou, the country’s top-ranked older female, won the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 16 and $750,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 14 at Oaklawn.
“Midnight Bisou has just hit a new level this year,” Asmussen said. “She just walks around like she knows she’s going to win.”
Midnight Bisou ($5.40) was a 3 ½-length winner of the Ogden Phipps, covering the distance in 1:39.69 under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith. The victory, Midnight Bisou’s ninth from 15 starts, raised her lifetime earnings to $2,780,000.
Close Hatches won the Azeri, Apple Blossom and Phipps in 2014 en route to an Eclipse Award as the country’s champion older female.
The Met Mile (Dirt Mile) and Phipps (Distaff) were “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup events.
Six of a Kind
Ramon Vazquez, a perennial top 5 rider at Oaklawn, won six races Friday night at Prairie Meadows.
Vazquez won the first race aboard favored Say It Softly ($4) for trainer Federico Villafranco, second race aboard favored Zella Rose ($2.60) for trainer Lynn Chleborad, fourth race aboard favored Sladens Dream ($4.40) for Villafranco, fifth race aboard Vision’s Reward ($13) for Chleborad, sixth race aboard favored Cajun Firecracker ($3.80) for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and the seventh race aboard favored Fools Rushin ($3.60) for trainer Jon Arnett.
Vazquez finished a second, beaten a nose, in the eighth race, the $65,000 Prairie Mile Stakes for 3-year-olds, aboard two-time Oaklawn winner Captain Von Trapp.
Vazquez has ridden regularly at Oaklawn since 2012, winning 288 races during that period. Vazquez finished third in this year’s Oaklawn standings with 50 victories, highlighted by the inaugural $300,000 Oaklawn Invitational for 3-year-olds May 4 aboard the Asmussen-trained Laughing Fox. Laughing Fox finished fifth in the Preakness in his next start.
Vazquez had 23 victories through Sunday at Prairie Meadows to rank second in the standings. He set a single-season record for victories last year at the Iowa track with 131.
Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby winner Omaha Beach, scratched as the favorite from the Kentucky Derby because of a throat issue, has recovered from surgery and is ready to resume training. He was flown from Kentucky back to this California base Monday … Unbeaten Break Even ($2.40) was a three-quarter length winner of the $150,000 Jersey Girl Stakes for 3-year-old filly sprinters Sunday at Belmont Park. Trained by Brad Cox, Jersey Girl, in her stakes debut, won the $150,000 Purple Martin March 30 at Oaklawn. She is 5 for 5 overall. … Taylor’s Spirit, sixth in the Purple Martin and third in the $125,000 Martha Washington Stakes Feb. 2 at Oaklawn, won the $65,000 Panthers Stakes Thursday at Prairie Meadows. … Discreetness, winner of the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes for 3-year-olds in 2016 at Oaklawn, was a winner Friday at Indiana Grand for owner Staton Flurry of Hot Springs. Discreetness was making his first start since Flurry privately purchased the gelding following a fifth-place finish in an April 5 race at Oaklawn. … Recruiting Ready, winner of the $150,000 Bachelor Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters in 2017 at Oaklawn, finished third in the $250,000 True North Stakes (G2) Friday at Belmont Park. … Nitrous, winner of this year’s Bachelor, finished second in the $400,000 Woody Stephens Stakes (G1) Saturday at Belmont Park. … Millionaire and Oaklawn stakes winner Chindi turned 25 Tuesday. The snow-white gelding is now trainer Steve Hobby’s popular stable pony.