Oaklawn Barn Notes by Robert Yates
Dash Attack, center with the white blaze, heads to the finish of the Smarty Jones Stakes
Large Field Taking Shape for the $750,000 Southwest Stakes
A dozen horses remained under consideration early Sunday afternoon for the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds Jan. 29 at Oaklawn, racing secretary Pat Pope said.
Post positions will be drawn Monday for the Southwest, along with two other stakes races Jan. 29. The 1 1/16-mile Southwest is Oaklawn’s second of four Kentucky Derby points races, offering 17 to the top four finishes (10-4-2-1) toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby.
Dash Attack, Barber Road, Ignitis, Vivar and Barber Road, the 1-2-3-5-7 finishers, respectively, in the $250,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 1 are expected to return for the Southwest. The 1-mile Smarty Jones was Oaklawn’s first Kentucky Derby points race.
The Southwest is expected to attract two shippers from Southern California – one for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert (Messier or Newgrange) and one for trainer Doug O’Neill (Slow Down Andy).
Other horses expected to be entered Monday include Dec. 18 Oaklawn maiden special weights graduate Call Me Jamal for trainer Mike Puhich and lightly raced Osbourne for trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who has 21 of the 103 nominees, is scheduled to have at least one starter in the Southwest, Pope said.
“I see 10 for sure, with the possibility of a dozen,” Pope said. “And we’re hoping the plane is scheduled to fly in here.”
A flight carrying five Southern California-based horses for Saturday’s stakes tripleheader, including two for Baffert and two for O’Neill, is scheduled to arrive Tuesday in Arkansas, Pope said.
Baffert has dominated Oaklawn’s Kentucky Derby prep series the last decade, notching 17 victories since 2010. He has won the Southwest four times.
Messier won the $100,000 Bob Hope Stakes (G3) Nov. 14 at Del Mar before finishing second behind Slow Down Andy, beaten a length, in the $300,000 Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) Dec. 11 at Los Alamitos to close 2021. Newgrange is unbeaten in two career starts, including the $100,000 Sham Stakes (G3) Jan. 1 at Santa Anita.
Because Baffert has been suspended by Churchill Downs, his horses are ineligible for Kentucky Derby qualifying points. The suspension stems from a possible medication violation involving his 2021 Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit.
Slow Down Andy has won 2 of 3 starts overall, with his only loss a runner-up finish in the $175,000 Golden State Juvenile Stakes Nov. 5 at Del Mar. The 7-furlong race was restricted to California-breds. O’Neill and breeder/owner J. Paul Reddam campaigned Slow Down Andy’s sire, 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist.
Dash Attack collected 10 points for his victory in the Smarty Jones to remain unbeaten in two career starts for trainer Kenny McPeek. Barber Road (John Ortiz), Ignitis (D. Wayne Lukas), Vivar (Brad Cox) and Ben Diesel (Dallas Stewart) are all seeking their first stakes victory.
Osbourne will be making his local debut after finishing second in the $400,000 Springboard Mile Stakes Dec. 17 at Remington Park in his last start. Osbourne, who has raced three times, is a gelded son of 2014 Southwest winner Tapiture.
Post positions also will be drawn Monday for the $200,000 Martha Washington Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles and the $150,000 King Cotton Stakes for older sprinters. The Martha Washington is Oaklawn’s first of three Kentucky Oaks points races. Like the Southwest, it offers 17 points (10-4-2-1) to the top four finishers toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Oaks, the country’s biggest prize for 3-year-old fillies.
Expected Martha Washington entrants include unbeaten Como Square for Cox, Grade 1 winner Eda (Baffert), multiple stakes winner Optionality (Asmussen), powerful Dec. 31 allowance winner Secret Oath (Lukas) and stakes-placed Tonito’s (O’Neill).
Eda and Tonito’s finished 1-3, respectively, in the $300,000 Starlet Stakes (G1) Dec. 4 at Los Alamitos. Eda is also ineligible to collect Kentucky Oaks points because of Baffert’s suspension by Churchill Downs.
The 6-furlong King Cotton field is expected to be headed by Grade I winner Collusion Illusion for trainer Mark Glatt and track record holders Hollis (Ortiz) and Nashville (Asmussen).
Collusion Illusion won the $250,000 Bing Crosby Stakes (G1) in 2020 at Del Mar. Hollis set Oaklawn’s 5 ½-furlong mark (1:02.17) in a Dec. 10 allowance race. Runner-up Nashville set Keeneland’s 6-furlong track record (1:07.89) in the $125,000 Perryville Stakes for 3-year-olds in 2020 at Keeneland.
Perennial Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. rode three winners Saturday to grab the outright lead in the standings after 19 days of the scheduled 65-day meeting. Santana won the fourth race aboard favored Macron ($3.80) for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, fifth race aboard favored Warrior’s Battle ($3.80) for trainer Brad Cox and the ninth race aboard Exulting ($9.60) for trainer Mike Maker. The triple gave Santana 23 victories, two more than runner-up Francisco Arrieta. Santana is seeking his ninth Oaklawn riding title. … Ingrid Mason won Saturday’s first race with Oneighthundredcash ($15.60), leaving her one victory away from tying Lynn Chleborad as the winningest female trainer in Oaklawn history. Chleborad entered Sunday with 126 career victories at Oaklawn. Mason had 125, including four at the 2021-2022 meet. Elvin Gonzalez was aboard Oneighthundredcash. … Warrior’s Battle became the meet’s first three-time winner with her 9 ¾-length victory in the 1-mile starter/optional claimer for 3-year-old fillies. A half-sister to millionaire Grade 3 winner Warrior’s Charge, Warrior’s Battle broke her maiden for a $40,000 claiming tag Dec. 5 and won another starter/optional claimer Jan. 7. She was scheduled to be sold as a racing/broodmare prospect about a week after the Jan. 7 victory at Keeneland’s January Horses of All Ages Sale before being withdrawn. Saturday marked the two-turn debut for Warrior’s Battle, who has won her three Oaklawn starts by a combined 21 lengths. She is co-owned by Ten Strike Racing (Marshall Gramm) and Titletown Racing Stables (Paul Farr). Warrior’s Charge is entered in allowance race Friday for Cox and Ten Strike. … Market Analysis, a recent addition for trainer Robertino Diodoro, ran the fastest 1 1/16 miles of the meeting (1:43.57) in Saturday’s seventh race, an allowance/optional claimer for older horses. Market Analysis ($19.60) was ridden by Luis Contreras. … John Hiraldo, a finalist for an Eclipse Award as the country’s champion apprentice jockey of 2021, rode his seventh winner of the meet in Saturday’s third race aboard Bebop Shoes ($9.40) for trainer Carl Deville and owner Jerry Caroom of Hot Springs. Hiraldo, 20, leads all apprentice riders in victories at the meet.