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Josie Carroll among new shooters at Oaklawn this meet | Events

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Josie Carroll among new shooters at Oaklawn this meet
Josie Carroll among new shooters at Oaklawn this meet

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (Oaklawn) - Trainer Josie Carroll, the only woman to win the $1 million Queen’s Plate, Canada’s most prestigious race for 3-year-olds, has a string in Hot Springs for the first time and hopes that Oaklawn will be the path to victory in some of the premier races for 3-year-olds on both sides of the North American border.

“I’ve never stabled at Oaklawn before, although I have run a few horses there in the past,” said Carroll, who captured the 2006 Queen’s Plate with Edenwold and the 2011 edition with the filly. “I’m coming in with 10 horses and I’ve got quite a few nice young horses. We are pointing them to Oaklawn’s strong three-year-old stakes program.”

The track’s highly-regarded program, which includes the $150,000 Smarty Jones Jan 20, Grade 3 Southwest Stakes February 17, the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes March 15, and the $1 million Grade 1 Arkansas Derby April 12, in has produced the winners of 10 Triple Crown races since 2004. Afleet Alex, 2007 and 2008 Horse of the Year Curlin, Lookin at Lucky, Oxbow, Smarty Jones, Summer Bird, Super Saver, and 2013 Horse of the Year finalist Will Take Charge have all used Oaklawn as a launching pad.

Moreover, Rachel Alexandra took advantage of Oaklawn’s sensational series of stakes for sophomore fillies by winning the Martha Washington and the Fantasy Stakes on the way to capturing the 2009 Preakness and Horse of the Year honors.

“I’ve been looking at Oaklawn for a long time. The quality of racing keeps improving and the purses are excellent,” Carroll said while referring to the $20 million up for grabs, which is the highest purse allotment in the track’s 110 year history, with $6.1 million allocated for the stakes schedule.

Carroll, one of several prominent new trainers competing in Hot Springs this season, counts Ami’s Holiday, winner of the 2013 Grade 3 Grey Stakes over Woodbine’s all-weather track, among her top 3-year-old prospects. The well-bred son of the multiple Grade 1-winning Harlan’s Holiday is out of Victorious Ami, who was sired by 1999 Arkansas Derby and Belmont Stakes winner Victory Gallop. The colt, whose last recorded work was at Woodbine at the end of November, figures to be a stable star and his pedigree suggests he’ll get better as the races in the series stretch out in distance.

“He’s a very nice horse,” said Carroll, who plans to arrive next week from her home in Toronto once her husband gets medical clearance to travel after undergoing hip replacement surgery. “He’s not on the grounds yet. He’s at the farm in Ocala (Florida) and we’re still freshening him up and letting him kick out and just be a horse. He’ll be shipping in and going into training again soon.”

Ami’s Holiday has two wins and one third in four starts and has bankrolled $176,734. After winning the Grey Stakes in his second start on October 6, he was seventh in the Coronation Futurity in November and then finished his juvenile campaign with a third place finish in the Display Stakes in December.

“I also have a brother to Ami’s Holiday, Victory Exchange, and he’s a very nice horse, too,” said Carroll, who began her career in 1975 as an assistant to Canadian Hall of Famer Mac Benson when he trained for the famed Windfields Farm. “He’s one of the four-year-olds I’m bringing that fit in the allowance ranks and possibly some of the stakes races.”

Ivan Dalos owns both Amie’s Holiday and Victory Exchange, an Exchange Rate colt who won both of his 2013 starts by breaking his maiden at first asking and then taking a first level allowance test on August 5 at Woodbine.

“He hurt his shoulder after that but he’ll be ready,” said Carroll, one of the leading trainers at Woodbine in the past several years. “I’m really looking forward to stabling at Oaklawn this year. The competition will be tough, but I hope we’ll win a lot of races.”

Open Day Highlights:

Oaklawn opens for its 110th race meet Friday with a 9-race card starting at 1 p.m. The 57-day meet runs every Thursday – Sunday through April 12. There will also be two holiday Monday cards Jan. 20 and Feb. 17 as well as one Wednesday card April 9.

Gates Open:     10 a.m. for gaming and 11 a.m. for racing

First Race:        1 p.m.

General Admission:     $2

Parking:                       $2

Programs:                     $2

(Source: Oaklawn)