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At the races
At the races

Joyful Victory Leads Mother Goose Field at Belmont Park

A select field of sophomore fillies headed by Oaklawn Park dual graded stakes winner Joyful Victory will contest Saturday’s $250,000 Mother Goose (G1) at Belmont Park.

Joyful Victory, trained by Larry Jones for Fox Hill Farms, most recently was fourth as the favorite in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) on May 6. She broke from the rail that day in a field of 13, and Jones said he thought the filly might not have been able to hit her best stride.

“There was some traffic and I don’t think she was able to do her running when she wanted,” said Jones. “She’s a big, long-striding filly and she needed to be cruising faster than she was able to [in the Oaks]. If you look at her race in the Breeders’ Cup [Juvenile Fillies] last year when Tony [Dutrow] had her, it was the same kind of race, and the outcomes were similar.”

Trained for the first three starts of her career by Dutrow, Joyful Victory graduated from a maiden win at Delaware Park in September to a third-place showing in the Frizette (G1) at Belmont one month later. Sent to Churchill for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on Nov. 5, she stalked the early pace before fading to fifth.

The daughter of Tapit turned in back-to-back dominant efforts at Oaklawn Park this year to start her sophomore campaign for Jones, romping by 8 ¾ lengths in the Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 12 and then seven lengths in April’s Fantasy Stakes (G2), both at the 1 1/16-mile Mother Goose distance. She has worked three times since the Oaks, most recently breezing a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.40 on June 20 at Delaware Park.

“Rick Porter [of Fox Hill Farms] picked out this spot for her after the Oaks,” Jones said. “We gave her a little time after that race and she’s been steadily picking it up in her works, so I believe we’ve got her where we want her.”

Ramon Dominguez has been named to ride Joyful Victory, the 9-5 morning-line favorite, from post position four of seven. Post time for the Mother Goose is 4:17 p.m. CDT.


Oaklawn Stakes Winners Look to Dominate Iowa Festival of Racing

With three graded stakes with combined purse money of $750,000, Prairie Meadows has attracted a strong group of horses for its Iowa Racing Festival, including several prominent horses from the 2011 Oaklawn Park meet.

The stakes action begins with the $200,000 Iowa Oaks (G3), which drew a six-field headed by Fair Grounds Oaks winner Daisy Devine, the 6-5 favorite. Her main competition will likely come from Instant Racing Stakes runner-up Hearts on Fire from the Donnie Von Hemel stable and two-time Oaklawn stakes winner All About Allie, trained by Hot Springs resident David Whited.

Hearts on Fire, who had been an impressive allowance race winner at Oaklawn prior to the Instant Racing most recently finished second in the Panthers Stakes at Prairie Meadows, with All About Allie third in the same race. The Arkansas-bred filly dominated her competition in both the Rainbow Miss and Downthedustyroad Stakes against fellow statebreds at Oaklawn over the winter.

In the $250,000 Iowa Derby (G3), Smarty Jones winner Caleb’s Posse will renew his rivalry with Dreaminofthewin as they both try to take down the heavily favored Astrology, who most recently finished third in the Preakness Stakes (G1) for three-time leading Oaklawn trainer Steve Asmussen.

Caleb’s Posse, trained by Donnie Von Hemel, kicked off the Oaklawn season by winning the Smarty Jones over Dreaminofthewin. He then went on to finish second in the Rebel Stakes (G2) prior to a trouble trip when 12th in the Arkansas Derby (G1). He rebounded nicely from that effort to win the Ohio Derby (G3) on June 4. Ironically, after drawing the rail each of his last five starts, he drew post eight of eight in the Iowa Derby. Regular rider Eddie Razo Jr. has the mount.

Following the Smarty Jones, Dreamofthewin finished second again to Caleb’s Posse’s stablemate Alternation in an allowance race before being sidelined with a quarter crack. He returned to finish third against older horses in the April 23 Texas Mile (G3) at Lone Star Park and was most recently fourth in the May 30 Lone Star Derby on the turf.

Also entered in the Iowa Derby is Sheriff Cogburn, trained by the patriarch of the Von Hemel family, Don.

The highlight of the evening card will be the $300,000 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (G3) led by multiple graded stakes winner Awesome Gem. Hoping to pull the upset will by Maggie Moss’ Razorback Stakes (G3) winner It Happened Again and Stachys, who most recently won Prairie Meadow’s Jim Rasmussen Memorial Stakes after several stakes placings at Oaklawn.

It Happpened Again, who won two allowances at Oaklawn prior to his Razorback score, will be looking to get back to winner’s circle for the first time since that March 12 race. In his last two starts, he was fifth in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) and fourth in the Jim Rasmussen Memorial. Stachys was second in Oaklawn’s Fifth Season, third in the Essex Handicap and fourth in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) prior to his local victory.

The first race at Prairie Meadows is at 6:30 p.m. CDT. The stakes are races 7 – 9, beginning at 9:15 p.m. CDT.