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Arkansas-bred Comedero Looks to Keep Streak Alive at Charles Town

While he may not be as accomplished as the fellow Arkansas-bred, Group 2-winner Strong Suit, who won the Group 3 Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot on Wednesday, it is safe to say that Peter Redekop’s Comedero, is at least the best Arkansas-bred running in the U.S. as he looks to extend his winning streak to three-in-a-row with a victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Wild and Wonderful Stakes at Charles Town Races & Slots in West Virginia.

When Comedero gets good, he gets really good. Last year, as a 3-year-old, he won five straight races, including two stakes at Oaklawn, the Grade 3 Chick Lang Stakes at Pimlico and the $400,000 Red Legend Stakes at Charles Town. Returning from a six-month layoff this year, he easily toyed with his fellow Arkansas-breds in the April 2 $50,000 Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes at Oaklawn, winning by 10 ¾ lengths. Most recently he won the Vincent A. Moscarelli Memorial Stakes at Delaware Park.

Oaklawn’s 2011 leading rider Cliff Berry will aboard the 9-to-5 morning line favorite, who drew post two of 10. Post time is 8:45 p.m. CDT.

Both Strong Suit and Comedero were bred by McDowell Farm in Sparkman, Ark., although Strong Suit was bred in partnership with Gainsborough Farm and Robert Clay.

“It is very exciting to see them running in major races,” said Bill McDowell. “I feel real fortunate to be associated with them.”

McDowell has since given away the dam of Strong Suit, Helwa, and sold the dam of Comedero, Pawnee Posse, who has a weanling full-brother to the stakes winner. This past spring he foaled 14 of his own horses at his farm.

J P’s Gusto and Yankee Passion Return in Charles Town’s Red Legend

Two horses, J P’s Gusto and Yankee Passion, who both tried the Arkansas Derby (G1) series at Oaklawn Park, hope that a return to sprinting will help them find their way back to the winner’s circle after Saturday’s $400,000 Red Legend Stakes at Charles Town.

Now in the barn of Michael Hushion and training at Belmont Park, J P’s Gusto shipped into to Oaklawn in early February and finished a strong second to Archarcharch in the Southwest Stakes (G3) before losing all hopes of making the Kentucky Derby with a seventh-place finish in the Rebel Stakes (G2) and an eighth in the Arkansas Derby. As a juvenile he won four straight races, including the Del Mar Futurity (G1) at seven furlongs, the same distance as the Red Legend. He was made the 5-to-2 morning line favorite in a field of 10.

Yankee Passion, trained by Larry Jones, won a six-furlong allowance race at Oaklawn in late January, but was subsequently sidelined after finishing fifth in the one-mile Southwest on Feb. 21.

The Red Legend Stakes will be the featured 10th race on Charles Town Sprint Festival card at 9:30 p.m. CDT.

Flat Out Looks to Finally Reach Potential in Stephen Foster

When Preston Stable’s Flat Out won the 2009 Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park by
3 ½ lengths in just his third career start, it appeared the sky was the limit for the Scooter Dickey-trained runner. Unfortunately, chronic quarter-cracks have plagued his career and have limited him to just four starts since the Smarty Jones.

Now five, Flat Out’s connections are hoping that their patience will pay off with an upset in Saturday’s $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs where the horse drew the rail and was given the longest odds at 30-1.

Proving that an upset could be in his cards, Flat Out most recently finished second to Awesome Gem and ahead of the favorite Game On Dude in the Lone Star Park Handicap (G3) on Memorial Day.

The son of Flatter worked five furlongs in 1:01 3/5 last Sunday in preparation for the race with Churchill Downs leading rider Corey Lanerie in the irons. He covered the distance in fractions of :13.20, :25.20, :37.20 and :49.60 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.

“All systems are go,” Dickey said. “Corey was pleased with the way he worked.
"The horse is doing good, and he’s ready. You don’t know with him. He’s day-to-day if he gets another quarter crack. But everything is good now.”

The deep Stephen Foster, which drew a field of 11, also features 2010 Oaklawn Handicap (G2)-winner Duke of Mischief, who most recently won the $1 million Charles Town Classic (G3) for co-owners Alex and Joann Lieblong of Conway, Ark. They co-own him with Marilynn McMasters and trainer David Fawkes.

The Stephen Foster, the 12th and final race of the day at Churchill Downs, has a post time of 5:25 p.m. CDT.

Uncle Brent Displays Readiness for Matt Winn

During his time at Oaklawn this winner, Charles Cella’s Northern Spur winner Uncle Brent was known to put in sharp workouts and little has changed since. The 3-year-old son of Pioneering breezed a “bullet” four furlongs in :46.80 over the fast main track last Sunday in preparation for the $125,000 Matt Win Stakes (G3) on the Stephen Foster undercard Saturday at Churchill Downs.

The breeze was the fastest of 37 moves at the distance. Manny Cruz was in the irons for the work and will be aboard Uncle Brent in the Matt Winn.

"He’s a quality horse and I wanted to give him a sharp work,” said trainer Lynn Whiting, best know for winning the 1992 Kentucky Derby with Arkansas Derby runner-up Lil E. Tee. “He may have gone a tad too fast. I would have preferred if he went 47 and change, but I guess he wasn’t too far from that. Overall, it was a very nice work.”

Uncle Brent enters the Matt Winn off a disappointing ninth-place finish behind fellow Oaklawn alum Alternation in the Peter Pan (G2) at Belmont Park.

"It was a new track and he got tired,” Whiting said. “He was never able to change leads (in the Peter Pan) and that didn’t help. He’s a much better horse than what he showed that day.”

The Matt Winn is the 10th race at 4:25 p.m. CDT.


Blind Luck Leads Tough Field in Hollywood Park’s Vanity


One week after Apple Blossom Handicap (G1)-winner Havre de Grace romped again in a stakes at Delaware Park, her chief rivals in the female division will square off in California as Blind Luck and Switch - each second to her in races this winter at Oaklawn - line up for the Vanity Handicap (G1) at Hollywood Park.

Blind Luck, the 3-year-old filly champion last year and winner of the 2010 Fantasy Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn, exits a victory in the LaTroienne Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs May 6 where she snapped a five-race losing streak. Among those five-straight runner-up finishes was a 3 1/4-length loss to Havre de Grace in the Azeri Stakes (G3) March 19. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Pollard's Vision has a rematch penciled in with her most familiar rival in the Delaware Handicap (G2) next month, but first she must tend to business at her home track, the base for her trainer soon-to-be inducted Hall-of-Famer Jerry Hollendorfer.

“She’s been doing great since she came back from Kentucky,” said Hollendorfer, who trains Blind Luck for fellow partners Mark DeDomenico, John Carver and Peter Abruzzo. “I think a mile and an eighth is a good distance for her.”

The filly's last two starts, including the Azeri, have been at 1 1/16th miles and she needed every inch of Churchill's long stretch to catch Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic champion Unrivaled Belle in her last effort. Garrett Gomez will be aboard on the afternoon Hollendorfer celebrates his 65th birthday.

Switch, the runner-up in this year's Apple Blossom, upset Blind Luck at Hollywood last year. The John Sadler-trained filly is a multiple Grade 1 winner and gave the supermare Zenyatta one of her stiffest tests during her 19-race winning streak over that track's synthetic surface last fall.

Miss Match seeks to redeem herself after finishing fourth in her trip to Arkansas behind Havre de Grace and Switch. The Argentinian bred upset the Santa Margarita Handicap (G1) at Santa Anita in March before running out of real estate at Oaklawn.


The post time for the Vanity is 6:35 p.m. CDT.

2010 and 2011 Bayakoa Winners Among Ogden Phipps Entries

Oaklawn stakes winners have proven time and again that they are capable of duplicating those feats at other tracks. The last two winners of the Bayakoa Stakes hope to be the latest to prove it in Saturday’s Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park as both the 2010 winner Payton d’Oro meets the most recent winner Absinthe Minded in a compact field.

Mike Pressley and Edward D. Taylor’s Payton d’Oro returned from nearly a year layoff to finish third in a stakes quality allowance race at Oaklawn Park March 17 and more recently finished second in the May 21 Allaire DuPont Distaff (G3) at Pimlico behind fellow Odgen Phipps contender Super Espresso.

“Her race at Pimlico was almost like another start off a layoff because it had been a long time since her race at Oaklawn, which wasn’t a great race from her and she didn’t get herself completely tight,” said trainer Larry Jones.

Gabriel Saez will ride Payton d’Oro from post 6. Installed at 8-1, she’ll carry 116 pounds.

Absinthe Minded won the 2011 Bayakoa Stakes before finishing third to division leader Havre de Grace in the Azeri Stakes (G3) and Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) at Oaklawn this past season. Trained by Hall-of-Famer D. Wayne Lukas, Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 2011, Absinthe Minded most recently finished second in Belmont’s Shuvee Handicap (G2). She will carry 116 pounds as well, including jockey Eddie Castro.

The Ogden Phipps is the ninth race at 4:17 pm CDT.