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Notes from the Barn at Oaklawn | Sports & Recreation

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Notes from the Barn at Oaklawn
Notes from the Barn at Oaklawn

Jones Hopes Summer Soiree Makes Winter Blues Melt Away

With seven racing days canceled and several other mornings lost to training, Larry Jones and his high-powered stable have been cooped up. He hopes Wahoo Partners' 3-year-old filly Summer Soiree can lead the breakout when she lines up in Saturday's $75,000 Martha Washington Stakes over one mile at Oaklawn Park.

Bred in Kentucky by co-owners Brereton and Bret Jones, Summer Soiree's name alone would be a fine respite from the sub-zero wind chills and plentiful snowfall. With the weather keeping most of the Martha Washington competitors off the track, her trainer is glad her last race - a 9 3/4-length romp in an allowance Jan. 30 - was so recent.

"We got in the last day they had any live racing, so I'm hoping that gives her a little bit of a fitness edge," said Jones while busily "shedrowing" his string Thursday morning. "It's certainly not the way we would have designed going into a stakes, but we are playing the cards we've been dealt."

Jones knows jogging horses around the barn makes it hard to get a gauge on how well his team is progressing. He chose not to send horses through workouts earlier this week between two snowstorms, and is eagerly looking forward to the warming trend forecast for Hot Springs this weekend.

"Every one of them is trying to tear the barn down right now," he said. "It's hard to tell how they're doing. I didn't send any out earlier this week so we may be a little behind schedule, but I can say Summer Soiree is kicking as high as the rest of them."

The part of the roster falling a bit behind schedule includes stakes winners Winslow Homer, Havre de Grace, Joyful Victory and No Such Word. His leading 3-year-old colt prospect, Brereton Jones's Yankee Passion remains on course for the $250,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 21 pending a workout in the next few days.

"He's still on target provided he does well here," said Jones. "The others a little behind, but I figure they're good horses, so they should be able to catch up pretty quickly because that's what good horses do."


Radosevich Rides Family Legacy toward Lofty Goals at Oaklawn

Most 18-year-old high school graduates are sketchy on what their future holds. Not Jacob Radosevich. He is preparing to ride for the first time at Oaklawn Park Friday as an apprentice jockey. As the youngest member of a racing family, he has known since he was a little boy his career would be on the track, and not even the death of his older brother, Joshua, has deterred him from getting into the saddle.

The Radosevich clan is based in central Ohio, where Jacob learned by his parent's side at their 23-acre training facility and at Beulah Park outside Columbus. His father Jake is one of the top conditioners in Ohio with more than 1,000 victories. Jacob's uncle Jeff was a jockey before turning into a leading trainer at Thistledown in Cleveland. His mother, Shelley, trained her own string, his sister, Jamie, is an assistant trainer and he has another uncle, Joey, who trained for 25 years. It all started when Joe Radosevich, Jacob's grandfather, moved from Quarter Horses to Thoroughbreds in the late 1970s.

"When I was 9, my dad told me to hop on up there," said Jacob, who arrives at Oaklawn with three wins to his credit, two coming for his father at Beulah. "We always would bug him to let us ride. He told us we'd get sick of it someday, but it hasn't yet. It gave me a lot of opportunities to learn."

The game has yet to sour Jacob or scare him, despite his brother's death at age 16 in Nov. 2005 when a horse he was riding fractured a leg, spilled him to the ground and rolled on top of him. His brother was just six weeks into his apprentice career and was already turning heads with his talent. Jacob is driven by that legacy and is clear-eyed about what he is embarking on.

"You have to look at it as a freak accident," he said. "I just try to always remember that there is more to learn and know that you have to be careful. Learn from what happened and work on getting better. My parents wanted me to finish high school. There was no use arguing with them, because they would have to sign any permissions to let me ride sooner. Instead I just tried to learn as much as I can and prepare to get out there when it was time to get a chance."

Already Radosevich has learned to balance the confidence a jockey needs to win with the humility a young rider needs to survive in the business. He knows his strengths, but knows those strengths can always be improved.

"There are guys here with 3,000 wins and there's so much I can learn from them," he said. "I feel excited to get out there. I feel like I sit good on a horse, but I know I need to get better with my stick and develop a harder push. I don't want to try and be like anyone in particular. I want to watch everybody and learn what I can."

With a full jockeys' room, Radosevich may have a limited window to make an impact with his performances, but he is getting the benefit of the doubt thanks to his family name and his ability to ride weighing 10 fewer pounds than his journeymen counterparts.

"I've worked him on a couple horses and I know he comes from a racing family," said Oaklawn leading trainer Randy Morse, who will give Radosevich his first chance here in Friday's second race aboard Devil in Diamonds. "The main thing for me is the 10 pounds we get. I've seen plenty of 10-pound bugs who couldn't throw a cross and yet they still win. If he can win he should get some good chances here."

Even though it is only February, Radosevich is counting on those good chances coming his way as well. And he hopes to turn those chances into a championship by year's end.

"I'm really keeping a goal of winning the Eclipse Award," he said. "I really want to do for me and my brother. For now we are just going day-to-day and we haven't seen where we will go from here. I hope to ride the whole meet here and keep the goal of the Eclipse out there."