An avid outdoorsman, Cecil Borel said he’s about to buy a new bass boat. Whether that payment comes out of his pocket, or from a financial windfall on the track, will be determined Saturday at Oaklawn when he sends out K J’s Nobility in the $100,000 Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes for Arkansas-bred sprinters.
Probable post time for the Nodouble, the ninth of 10 races, is 5:08 p.m. (Central). Racing begins Saturday at 1:05 p.m.
The 6-furlong Nodouble has drawn a field of nine, including 2017 winner Racer for trainer Jinks Fires of Hot Springs, 2018 winner J.E.’s Handmedown and defending champion Hoonani Road for owner Jerry Caroom of Hot Springs. K J’s Nobility is the 5-2 program favorite off a strong third-place finish in an open allowance race Jan. 26 and a two-length state-bred allowance score Feb. 22 in his last start. Hoonani Road finished second in the latter race, his first loss in eight career Oaklawn starts.
Borel, the older brother of the gelding’s regular rider, Hall of Famer Calvin Borel, skipped a March 12 prep for the Nodouble to train up the race.
“He’s doing good,” Cecil Borel said during training hours Thursday morning. “We took a little step backwards after he won that last time. I couldn’t make four races. A lot of people couldn’t understand why I passed that last race, but I had to. I don’t think it would be right to run him in that race, run him Saturday, run him back long again, then run him back on the next to last day. That’s just too much. I did what I thought was right.”
Borel said he hopes to use the Nodouble as a bridge to a two-turn race and, ultimately, the $165,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Championship at 1 1/16 miles May 1. K J’s Nobility finished second, beaten a half-length by Hoonani Road, in the inaugural event last year.
K J’s Nobility has had two published workouts since his last start, including a 5-furlong move in 1:00.60 March 22.
“We two-minute licked him a couple of times,” Borel said. “It shows one work in the Form, (half-mile in :53), that morning that he two-minute licked. But I came back and worked him hard last weekend. I think he’s still sharp. I might be a tad off, but I still think he’ll run big.”
Owned by Carson McCord, 20, of Hot Springs, K J’s Nobility has already bankrolled $62,200 at the meet. A victory Saturday will push the gelding’s 2020 earnings into six figures and make shopping for a new bass boat an easy catch, Borel said.
“If K J wins Saturday, I won’t have to take a dollar out of my pocket,” Borel said. “It will be paid for.”
Hoonani Road (3-1) tries to regain his winning ways for trainer Wayne Catalano after having his local winning streak snapped by K J’s Nobility and finishing third behind Bandit Point and J E’s Handmedown in the March 12 prep. Third in last year’s Nodouble, Bandit Point (5-1) would represent the first career stakes victory for Kelsi Harr, Oaklawn’s leading apprentice this year.
Bandit Point gave Harr her first career win June 17, 2018, at Canterbury Park (also her first career mount) and her most lucrative career victory to date in the March 12 allowance race – $92,000 purse. Bandit Point, who is trained by Harr’s fiancée, Robert Cline, also won a Feb. 17 state-bred allowance sprint.
“He was my first win, the one I’ve won the most races on now,” Harr said. “He’s the big horse. My favorite.”
J E’s Handmedown was beaten a neck by Bandit Point March 12. Destiny Way, Hoonani Road’s younger half-brother, exits a March 14 state-bred allowance victory for Caroom and trainer Carl Deville.
The projected nine-horse Nodouble field from the rail out: Rock City Roadhog, Ramon Vazquez to ride, 118 pounds, 12-1 on the morning line; Heritage Park, Alex Birzer, 123, 6-1; K J’s Nobility, Calvin Borel, 123, 5-2; J.E’s Handmedown, Fernando De La Cruz, 118, 6-1; Bandit Point, Kelsi Harr, 123, 5-1; Hoonani Road, Channing Hill, 118, 3-1; Destiny Way, Joe Talamo, 123, 6-1; Glacken’s Ghost, Alex Canchari, 118, 15-1; and Racer, Luis Quinonez, 115, 30-1.
Nominations close Saturday, March 28 for the $100,000 Purple Martin Stakes scheduled for Saturday, April 4. Southern California-based trainer Doug O’Neill had a double for the second consecutive racing day Thursday, winning the second race with Tell Me Im Pretty ($31) and the seventh race with favored Dichotomy ($4.60). Tell Me Im Pretty, co-owned by NHL player Erik Johnson, is among approximately 10 horses O’Neill has on the grounds. The double moved O’Neill’s strike rate at the meet to 32 percent (8 for 25). … Through Thursday, the 36th day of the scheduled 57-day season, 261 claims had totaled $4,981,500. … Trainer Will VanMeter said Thursday morning that Sekani, Turnstone and The Mary Rose – all maiden winners this year at Oaklawn – are candidates for the $100,000 Rainbow Miss Stakes April 17. The 6-furlong race is for 3-year-old Arkansas-bred fillies. John Ed Anthony of Hot Springs owns all three horses. … The six horses in last Saturday’s $90,000 Gazebo Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters finished in the exact order of their final odds – Long Weekend (6-5 favorite), Little Menace (9-5), Lykan (3-1), Beau Oxy (7-1), Nucky (23-1) and Fly to the Bank (32-1).