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Oaklawn Barn Notes

Oaklawn Barn Notes

Florida Import Rose to Gold Favored in Martha Washington

Trainer Sal Santoro had never been to Oaklawn until a couple of weeks ago, but on the advice of fellow horsemen, who suggested the best route to Kentucky was through Hot Springs, he brought his star pupil, Rose to Gold, and a few other horses to town for the meet. Saturday, Rose to Gold takes the first step toward her ultimate goal of making the May 3 Kentucky Oaks (G1) when she starts as the 2-1 morning line favorite in Saturday’s $75,000 Martha Washington Stakes. The race offers a total of 17 points based on Churchill Downs’ new criteria for making the Oaks field.

Liberty Girl Ready for Next Step in Martha Washington

Liberty Girl Ready for Next Step in Martha Washington

Casner Racing’s Liberty Girl was one of the most impressive winners from opening day, Jan. 11, when she drew off to win a first level allowance race by 4 ½ lengths in her 3-year-old debut. On Saturday, the A.P. Warrior filly takes another step forward as one of nine fillies entered in the $75,000 Martha Washington Stakes. The one-mile race, part of Oaklawn’s series leading to the April 10 $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3), will offer a total of 17 points based on Churchill Downs’ new criteria for making the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) May 3.

“She’s doing really well,” said trainer Eoin Harty, who is in Hot Springs for a few days overseeing his string of horses here. “At first, I was a little hesitant to run her back (in the Martha Washington) but she’s spent the time since her last race training so well, I went ahead. She’s been so bright and showing all the right signs. Normally, it would seem to be a little quick, but she bounced right out of that race.

Oaklawn Barn Notes

Oaklawn Barn Notes

Will Take Charge Gets Back to Work

Smarty Jones Stakes winner Will Take Charge got back to work Thursday morning with a half-mile breeze in 48 4/5 over a fast track. The time was the second fastest of 30 at the distance with multiple stakes winner Alternation posting the bullet.

“I was glad to see this from him,” said trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who conditions the Unbridled’s Song colt for Willis D. Horton of Marshall, AR. “I told the exercise rider to go in :49, so that was almost perfect. It was just a maintenance half mile, but there were a couple of horses who broke off in front of him and he was pretty aggressive. He’s come back good and we’re still looking at the Southwest or Rebel with him.”

The $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) is Monday, Feb. 18, while the $600,000 Rebel Stakes is Saturday, March 16. Both races are at the 1 1/16-mile distance and offer key points towards making the Kentucky Derby field.

 

San Pablo Arrives for Essex Handicap; Assigned Top Weight

San Pablo Arrives for Essex Handicap; Assigned Top Weight

Dan Bearden’s San Pablo arrived in Hot Springs Tuesday for his engagement in Saturday’s $100,000 Essex Handicap after flying in from trainer Todd Pletcher’s Palm Meadows base in South Florida. He was assigned top weight of 120 lbs. for the 1 1/16-mile race.

 

The 5-year-old Jump Start horse enters the Essex having won four of his last five starts, including his last two – the $75,000 Queens County at Aqueduct Dec. 8 and $100,000 Swatara Stakes at Penn National Nov. 21. His  only poor performance came three races ago in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont Sept. 29. Prior to the Jockey Club, he had earned his first graded stakes victory in the Iselin Handicap (G3) at Monmouth Park and won the Birdstone Stakes at Saratoga.

 

San Pablo’s best races have come when he has been on or near the lead, but Pletcher is not worried about how Saturday’s race might shape up.

Oaklawn Barn Notes

Oaklawn Barn Notes

Lukas Keeping Options Open for Three-Year-Olds

As a former basketball coach, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas knows the importance of having a deep bench and his appears to be quite full after Oxbow and Will Take Charge both earned important Kentucky Derby prep victories and points last weekend. Oxbow easily won the $200,000 Lecomte Stakes (G3) at Fair Grounds last Saturday, while his stablemate Will Take Charge stayed home and won Monday’s $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes. Each horse earned 10 points based on Churchill Downs’ new system for making the Derby field.

Will Take Charge, who had a hard-fought battle to the wire, gave the trainer some anxious moments after he stumbled pulling up, but was fine.

“He’s fine and was fine when we got him back to the barn (Monday) afternoon,” said Lukas. “He must have just tweaked something pulling up from the race.  We jogged him in the shedrow this morning and he’s just great.”

Whiting Has Three-Year-Olds Poised For Early Impact

Whiting Has Three-Year-Olds Poised For Early Impact

Trainer Lynn Whiting, best known for 1992 Kentucky Derby winner and Arkansas Derby runner-up Lil E. Tee, is wasting no time getting two of his top 3-year-olds in action this meet. Saturday, he will start Charles J. Cella’s Lady Stonewall in the $60,000 Dixie Belle Stakes and he has Officer Alex on target for his seasonal debut in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 21, the feature on the special Martin Luther King Jr. Day card.

Lady Stonewall, a Harlan’s Holiday filly, will not only be making her first start of the year, but her stakes debut in the six-furlong Dixie Belle, where she drew post seven of seven. In her two starts as a juvenile, she finished second at Keeneland and then proved a gutsy winner, taking a tough maiden special weight at Churchill Downs by a head. She will be ridden by Robby Albarado, who is returning to Oaklawn to ride full-time for the first time since being leading rider in 1997.

Veterans Win Willy and Endorsement Head Opening Day Feature

Veterans Win Willy and Endorsement Head Opening Day Feature

Oaklawn’s highly anticipated 2013 live racing season gets underway Friday with a nine-race card highlighted by the $75,000 Fifth Season Stakes. The 1 1/16-mile race for older horses drew a field of nine led by fan-favorite Win Willy and multiple stakes winner Endorsement, who is among the horses trainer Eoin Harty sent to Oaklawn for the first time this year.

Jer-Mar Stable’s Win Willy, who won the race in 2011, will likely be the sentimental choice as his biggest career wins have come at the Hot Springs track, including the 2009 Rebel Stakes and 2011 Oaklawn Handicap. The 7-year-old Monarchos horse will once again be partnered with jockey Alex Cintron, who was aboard for all three of his victories last year, including two stakes. He prepared for the race with a five-furlong breeze in 1:03 1/5 Tuesday.