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Latest from Oaklawn

Latest from Oaklawn

Yankee Passion Works His Way into Southwest; Works Other Stable Stars

A 'bullet' Wednesday morning workout at Oaklawn Park has convinced trainer Larry Jones and jockey

Gabriel Saze that Brereton Jones' up-and-coming 3-year-old colt Yankee Passion is ready to attempt a stakes race for the first time in Monday's $250,000 Southwest Stakes (G3).

The Kentucky homebred is coming off a gutsy 2 1/4-length optional allowance victory Jan. 27 in what was his sophomore debut. He breezed five furlongs under Saez in 1:01 1/5 in company with Commander, another 3-year-old colt in Jones’ barn. Yankee Passion had the fastest of 44 workers at that distance over a fast track on a cool, drizzly morning.

"This makes him a definite," said Larry Jones. "He did what we asked."

"It was very nice," added Saez, who boldly drove Yankee Passion between horses in his last race.

Notes from the barn

Notes from the barn

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – With the $250,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) exactly one week away, several leading contenders headed to the track Monday for their final workouts.

Leading the busy morning were Gem Stable’s Grade 1 winner J P’s Gusto and Zachney and Partners’ Elite Alex. Both are prominent names among the 364 nominees to this year’s Kentucky Derby (G1), Preakness (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1), however both colts have a lot to prove in Hot Springs before they start their Triple Crown journey in Louisville on the first Saturday in May.

J P’s Gusto, who arrived at Oaklawn last Wednesday, worked six furlongs in 1:15 3/5 under jockey Bryan McNeil in his first drill since joining the barn of Joe Petalino. The Successful Appeal colt was shifted by his owners from California to Oaklawn with the progressively longer distances of the races leading up to the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) his targets.

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.

Jockey champion, pitching ace among hall of fame inductees

Jockey champion, pitching ace among hall of fame inductees

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Two-time Oaklawn Park leading rider Calvin Borel, winner of three out of the last four Kentucky Derbys, will be recognized both locally and abroad for his riding accomplishments in the coming days.

Friday night Borel joins Philadelphia Phillies pitching ace Cliff Lee, of Benton, Ark., and nine others as 2011 inductees into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. Borel will take part in a ceremony in Little Rock.

Monday, Borel leaves for the Middle East where he will represent the United States in the Meydan Masters jockey competition February 17-18 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Borel, who has been riding at Oaklawn since the early 90s, earned his first riding title at the Hot Springs track in 1995, ending Hall of Famer Pat Day’s streak of 12 consecutive titles in the process. His second title came in 2001. More recently, Oaklawn has been a stepping stone for two of Borel’s best mounts.

Oaklawn adds a day of races

Oaklawn adds a day of races

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Oaklawn Park, which has lost six full race cards because of weather since the beginning of the meet, will increase the number of daily races from nine to 10 effective with its Thursday, Feb. 10 card. Post times will remain 1:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays and 1:00 p.m. Saturdays.

“It is not unusual for us to run 10 races once the days get longer, and in this instance it will allow us to make up for some of our losses,” said Assistant General Manager of Racing David Longinotti. “We have a full barn area of over 1,500 horses, so we also want to do our best to accommodate our horsemen who are here and ready to run.”

Weather forced Oaklawn to cancel its opening day card, Jan. 14, Jan. 20 and Feb. 3 – Feb. 6. The six cancellations equal the record for most cards lost in a season also reached in 2003, 1989, 1979 and 1960.

The $100,000 Essex Handicap, which was originally scheduled for Feb.

Girls' softball season starts soon

Girls' softball season starts soon

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - The Hot Springs Parks & Recreation Department will accept applications until March 14 for girls wishing to play youth softball at Kimery Park, 271 Kimery Lane

Age groups are 4-6 (coach pitch and tee-ball); 7-8 and 9-10 (machine pitch) and 11-13 (fast pitch). The cost per child is $30. Students may register in groups or submit teams.

The season will run from early April until early June, with game days taking place on weekdays except Wednesdays. For more information or to inquire about coaching and volunteering opportunities, call 321-6871.

Notes from the barn at Oaklawn

Notes from the barn at Oaklawn

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - A successful opening day and a proven affinity for Oaklawn Park will lead trainer Larry Jones to send Tommy Ligon's Backwater Blues into Saturday's $50,000 King Cotton Stakes with just two weeks between starts.

The 4-year-old son of Dixieland Band won a $65,000 allowance race here Jan. 16 for his second straight victory dating back to a similar allowance win at Penn National in November. He has two wins in four Oaklawn starts with a second-place finish in last year's Mountain Valley Stakes.

With winter weather playing havoc with training schedules, Jones thinks Backwater Blues might be at an advantage with the quick return to the races.

"We've all been kind of in the same pile," Jones said Wednesday morning. "With the weather keeping us all from really working, we all ran kind of an equal race.