Drop Dead Gorgeous was supposed to be the 3-year-old filly to watch in trainer Steve Hobby’s barn this year at Oaklawn. Instead, it was stablemate Headland, who ran her winning streak to five after going a perfect four for four at Oaklawn with a victory against males in a starter/optional claiming sprint April 27 for the Batesville, Ark.-based HWL Partnership. Her streak began with a maiden claiming victory last November at Churchill Downs.
The HWL Partnership consists of Mark Lamberth, his wife, Dianne, and the husband/wife team of Bill and Janis Walmsley. Lamberth is vice chairman of the Arkansas Racing Commission. Walmsley is president of the Arkansas Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.
“We’re very pleased with her progress,” Lamberth said. “We really thought the other filly would be a little bit more talented than Headland, but that’s horse racing. Sometimes, things work out differently than you plan.”
HWL purchased Drop Dead Gorgeous and Headland for $75,000 and $50,000, respectively, at the OBS April 2-year-old sale. While Drop Dead Gorgeous was winless in four maiden special events at Oaklawn (the daughter of Strong Mandate is entered for a $75,000 maiden-claiming price Saturday at Churchill Downs), Headland has climbed the class ladder after breaking her maiden for a $30,000 claiming tag Nov. 23 at Churchill Downs.
By Grade 1 winner Paynter, Headland won for a $40,000 claiming price Feb. 8 and sandwiched around starter victories March 7 and April 27 was a sparkling 5 ¾-length first-level allowance score April 6. Headland’s Equibase speed ratings mirrored her success at the meet, rising from 74 in early February to a career-high 98 late last month.
“Any time they break their maiden, it’s a great day,” said Lamberth. “I was just so thrilled that day. Little did we know at the time that she was going to get better with each race. And that’s what’s happened. She’s gotten better. Her times have gotten better, and Hobby’s done a great job of managing her through her conditions. Hobby is a great believer in going through the conditions and not pushing them off the deep end too quick.”
In her last start, Headland beat, among others, Six Shooter in the race for 3-year-olds that had started for a claiming price of $30,000 or less or $40,000 claiming. Under Richard Eramia, Headland ($6) was a front-running three-quarter length winner in 1:09.78 for 6 furlongs over a fast track. Six Shooter, an Oaklawn stakes veteran, was fourth.
“We let Hobby manage the horses,” Lamberth said. “We don’t tell him where to enter, what jockey to ride. When we looked at the horses, we knew there were a couple in there, particularly Six Shooter, that had run in really good company and that we would have our work cut out for us. Quite frankly, we wanted to kind of see where we were and if she could handle a field of colts, that was not a great field. But running a filly against the colts this early in the year is always a challenge.”
Lamberth said Headland will be considered for a minor stakes race next, possibly in Indiana or Ohio. Overall, she has a 5-1-0 mark from nine career starts and earnings of $156,837.
“If we could find a small stake and maybe get a little black type on her, that would be the goal,” Lamberth said.
Intrepid Heart Makes Stakes Debut Saturday
Maybe the most impressive maiden winner at the 2019 Oaklawn meeting is scheduled to make his stakes debut this weekend at Belmont Park.
Unbeaten Intrepid Heart drew the rail for Saturday’s $300,000 Peter Pan Stakes (G3), a 1 1/8-mile race that could serve as the gray colt’s prep for the Belmont Stakes – the final leg of racing’s Triple Crown – June 8.
A son of super sire Tapit, Intrepid Heart was a front-running 7 ¾-length winner of his career debut Feb. 18 at Oaklawn for trainer Todd Pletcher and owners Robert and Lawana Low of Springfield, Mo. Intrepid Heart ran a mile over a fast track in 1:38.08 and paid $3.80 as the 4-5 favorite. Intrepid Heart resurfaced April 5 at Keeneland and won a 1 1/16-mile entry-level allowance race by a half-length as the 3-2 favorite. Regular rider John Velazquez is named to ride Saturday.
Intrepid Heart, a $750,000 OBS April 2-year-old purchase, is a half-brother to Commissioner, runner-up in the Peter Pan and Belmont Stakes in 2014. Commissioner also ran sixth in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn.
Pletcher and the Lows teamed to win the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) and $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) last year with Magnum Moon. The Rebel is Oaklawn’s final major prep for the Arkansas Derby.
Previous Oaklawn-raced horses to win the Peter Pan include Purge in 2004, Alternation in 2011 and Madefromlucky in 2015.
Probable post time for the Peter Pan, which goes as race 4, is 2:08 p.m. (Central). Intrepid Heart is the 7-5 program favorite.
Oaklawn Runners Shine in Louisville
Four Oaklawn stakes winners captured stakes events last weekend at Churchill Downs, with another finishing third in the country’s biggest race for 3-year-old fillies.
Mitole, winner of the $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 13, captured Saturday’s $500,000 Churchill Downs (G1) to solidify his status as the country’s top older male sprinter. Mia Mischief, winner of the $150,000 Purple Martin for 3-year-old female sprinters last year, captured Saturday’s $500,000 Humana Distaff (G1).
Last Friday, She’s a Julie, winner of the $200,000 Bayakoa (G3) for older females Feb. 18, captured the $500,000 La Troienne (G1). This year’s Purple Martin winner, Break Even, remained unbeaten in four career starts in the $250,000 Eight Belles (G2) for trainer Brad Cox.
Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. (six Oaklawn riding titles) and Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen (10 Oaklawn training titles) teamed to win the Churchill Downs, Humana Distaff and La Troienne. They also finished third in Friday’s $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) with Lady Apple, Oaklawn’s top 3-year-old filly this year after winning the $500,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 12. Multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Amy’s Challenge finished third in the Humana Distaff for trainer Mac Robertson.
Oaklawn-raced Scotty’s Model is entered in the $100,000 Ballade Stakes for fillies and mares Saturday at Woodbine. Probable post time for the 6-furlong race is 3:59 p.m. (Central). … Raintree Starlet, winner of the $100,000 Dixie Belle Stakes for 3-year-old fillies Feb. 16 at Oaklawn, is entered in the $100,000 Mamzelle Overnight Stakes Saturday at Churchill Downs. Probable post time for the 5-furlong turf race is 4:26 p.m. (Central). … Nun the Less, seventh in the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses Feb. 18 at Oaklawn, is entered in the $100,000 Hanshin Cup Stakes (G3) Saturday at Arlington Park. Co-owner/trainer Cipriano Contreras won the 1-mile race last year with Oaklawn-raced Matrooh. Probable post time for the Hanshin Cup is 4:35 p.m. (Central). … Recruiting Ready, powerful winner of the $150,000 Bachelor Stakes for 3-year-olds in 2017 at Oaklawn, is entered in the $150,000 Runhappy Stakes Saturday at Belmont Park. Probable post time for the 6-furlong Runhappy is 4:51 p.m. (Central). … South Florida-based Edgard Zayas rode three winners in his Oaklawn debut last Saturday. Zayas won the fifth race aboard Flatter My Heart ($22.80) for trainer David Fawkes, ninth race aboard favored Chris and Dave ($5) for trainer Federico Villafranco and the 12th and final race of the meet, the 1 ¾-mile Trail’s End, aboard defending champion The Rouge Diesel ($18.60) for trainer John E. Cox. Flatter My Heart represented the second meet winner for the south Florida-based Fawkes, who sent a small string to Oaklawn after the season started.