Garcia Teams with Baffert for Saturday’s Stakes

Garcia Teams with Baffert for Saturday’s Stakes

Jockey Martin Garcia had a memorable Sunday at Oaklawn, and it included more than picking up two live mounts in upcoming major stakes races for Southern California-based trainer Bob Baffert.

Garcia said he was struck in his right shoulder by a small bird approaching the finish line of the eighth race aboard Tipsy Gal. While Tipsy Gal finished second in the maiden special weights sprint for females, Garcia said the event near the wire was a first for him during a highly successful riding career that began in the United States in 2005.

“Good thing that I saw it coming and I moved my face to the left,” Garcia, 35, said during training hours Monday morning. “It would have broken my nose. It wasn’t a big bird. That’s never happened to me before. I think it’s good luck.”

Garcia’s good work this year at Oaklawn, and in the past for Baffert, helped the jockey land two prized mounts for the Hall of Fame trainer Saturday, the final day of the scheduled 57-day meeting. Garcia, Oaklawn’s second-leading rider through Sunday, is scheduled to ride Improbable for the first time in the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses and unbeaten Charlatan for the first time in the first division of the $500,000 Arkansas Derby (G1), a major Kentucky Derby prep.

Garcia was once Baffert’s go-to rider in the morning and afternoon. They teamed for 371 victories, including 103 stakes between 2010 and 2015, collecting such marquee events as the Preakness, Breeders’ Cup Classic, Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Kentucky Oaks, Santa Anita Handicap, Santa Anita Derby, Hollywood Gold Cup, Haskell Invitational, Clark Handicap and Malibu.

Garcia also rode American Pharoah, Baffert’s 2015 Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year, in his first career start and regularly breezed the colt during his Triple Crown year.

Baffert and Garcia had a reported “falling out” in the spring of 2016, but have reunited at Oaklawn through a Covid-19 twist. Garcia is riding regularly for the first time at Oaklawn after relocating from Southern California to the Midwest last fall. Baffert began sending select horses to Hot Springs after Santa Anita suspended racing March 27 because of the new virus.

Garcia has been regularly breezing Baffert’s new arrivals, including Improbable, and they’ve turned back in the clock in the afternoon, too, going 5 for 6 together through Sunday.

“Martin’s been helping me out there,” Baffert said Tuesday afternoon. “Martin, he knows my horses. He’s been on every good horse I’ve ever had. He can handle pressure pretty well, too. I’m glad that he’s doing really, really well.”

Garcia said he was informed Sunday by his agent, Jay Fedor, that he would be riding Improbable and Charlatan. Southern California-based Drayden Van Dyke rode Improbable to a runner-up finish in the $150,000 Oaklawn Mile April 11 and was aboard Charlatan for his two blowout victories earlier this year at Santa Anita.

Garcia said he’s grateful to have an opportunity to ride Improbable and Charlatan, particularly since it’s for a trainer who helped his career reach new heights a decade ago.

“I’ve been pretty lucky because he had options to put anybody on these horses and then he gives me a chance,” Garcia said. “I’ve been lucky. Those opportunities don’t come every day and I just have to take advantage of that.”

Garcia enters the final three scheduled days of the meeting with 51 victories, three less than six-time local riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. Joe Talamo, another former Southern California fixture riding regularly at Oaklawn for the first time, is third with 50. Defending champion David Cohen is fourth with 44.

“I don’t care,” Garcia said, when asked if he can catch Santana. “I’m just having fun. Been lucky. I have had a lot of support from good people and my agent, he’s doing a good job.”

Overall, Garcia and Baffert had teamed for 443 career victories through Sunday, including nine at Oaklawn. Four local victories have come in stakes, including the $900,000 Rebel (G2) in 2016 with Cupid.

Garcia said he will ride at Churchill Downs after Oaklawn closes.

Ladies Man

Can the champ deliver?

Brad Cox can become the first trainer to sweep Oaklawn’s three Kentucky Oaks points races with different horses if Eclipse Award winner British Idiom captures Friday’s $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles.

Cox won the $150,000 Martha Washington Stakes Feb. 1 with Taraz and the $300,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 7 with Shedaresthedevil, co-owned by Staton Flurry of Hot Springs. The Martha Washington, which became a two-turn race in 2004, has been won by, among others, future Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra (2009), champion Take Charge Brandi (2015) and future multiple graded stakes winner Red Ruby (2018). Rachel Alexandra returned to win the Fantasy.

British Idiom capped a 3 for 3 championship campaign last year with a victory in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) Nov. 1 at Santa Anita. Stablemate Shedaresthedevil punched her ticket to the Fantasy with a victory in the Honeybee.

“It says a lot about the depth we have with the 3-year-old fillies,” said Cox, who won the 2018 Fantasy with Sassy Sienna. “However we do it, whichever one wins, hopefully, we can get it done.”

British Idiom will be making her local debut after suffering her first career loss in the $300,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2) Feb. 15 at Fair Grounds. She had been scheduled to make her next start in the $500,000 Ashland Stakes (G1) April 4 at Keeneland before the Lexington, Ky., track canceled its spring meeting (Covid-19). After Churchill Downs responded to the Covid-19 crisis by moving the Kentucky Oaks from May 1 to Sept. 4, Oaklawn shifted the Fantasy from April 10 to Friday.

“Their training, it’s trying to keep them on a schedule,” Cox said. “They’re both doing extremely well. I expect them to run their ‘A’ race, I know that.”

Shedaresthedevil will be making her third start for Cox after being purchased for $280,000 at Keeneland’s November Breeding Stock Sale. In her Feb. 15 local debut, Shedaresthedevil finished second, beaten three-quarters of a length, by stablemate Bonny South in an entry-level allowance race at 1 1/16 miles. Bonny South won the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) March 21 at Fair Grounds in her next start. Shedaresthedevil returned to capture the Honeybee, the traditional final major local prep for the Fantasy, in her next start.

“She’s a phenomenal work horse,” Cox said. “She gave us the confidence to go from running second in a one-other-than, having the condition, and skipping the one-other-than that was offered in the book there right before the Honeybee. She gives you a lot of confidence as a trainer.”

Bonny South has 100 points to rank second on the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard. British Idiom and Shedaresthedevil each have 50 points to rank seventh and eighth, respectively (non-restricted stakes earnings break ties). The 1 1/8-mile race is limited to 14 starters, with starting preference given to horses with the highest point totals earned in designated races like the Martha Washington, Honeybee and Fantasy. The Fantasy offers 170 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points to its top four finishers (100-40-20-10).

Bonny South returned to the work tab last Saturday at Keeneland, covering 3 furlongs in :36.40. Cox said he decided to back off Bonny South following the Fair Grounds Oaks because she already has 100 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points and a secure spot in the starting gate.

“Where we land, we don’t know yet,” Cox said of Bonny South’s next start. “Hopefully, we’ll be up and racing and they’ll be some options for us soon.”

Lazy Daisy Makes Debut in Tough Fantasy

Under normal circumstances, trainer Doug O’Neill most likely wouldn’t have chosen a stakes with a 14-horse field for Lazy Daisy’s seasonal debut, but with limited options, he decided to take a chance in Friday’s Fantasy. The 3-year-old Paynter filly hasn’t started since finishing sixth to British Idiom after a troubled trip in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) last November. One race earlier, she won the Pocahontas Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs.

“It’s obviously a really difficult spot, but she’s a hard-knocking filly and there wasn’t a lot of options for her,” O’Neill said. “She is training well, but at the same time we are all realistic and think that if she could split the field or better, that would be a gift and we’d be grateful that because it will give us something to build on. We are throwing her into the deep end for sure.”

Lazy Daisy arrived at Oaklawn in early April and has had three works over the track, including a half mile breeze from the gate in :48 1/5 April 25.

“According to the boys in the barn, they are extremely happy with her,” O’Neill said. “She’s eating well. Her appetite is good and her energy is good. We took her to the gate for the last work since she hasn’t run in a while just to put the gate back in her mind. She broke well and worked full of energy. (Jockey) David Cohen breezed her that day and said that when he went to pull her up, she wanted to take off again. We’re pumped and happy that she’s back, race ready. We’re looking forward to seeing her compete again.”

“I think ideally, good clean break and settle her. When they have been off and are fresh, if you ask for too much early, they won’t finish. It’s just not physically possible. We’re just going to try and save as much ground as possible and try to use her energy finishing up. If we get a productive effort, we’re all going to be happy with that.

This marks the third straight year that O’Neill has had a string at Oaklawn and the trainer said he expects to return again in 2021.

“I couldn’t be happier with the crew there,” O’Neill said. “We have horsemen there that sacrificed their families to move to Hot Springs for four months for us and they’ve been treated like kings. Couldn’t be happier with the results. With no racing in California, it’s been a dream come true to still have the ability to compete during this unusual time of the pandemic. I would say we’d be back next year. There are just so many opportunities there. I love the town and it makes you proud to be part of the racing in Hot Springs.”

Finish Lines

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s unbeaten 3-year-olds, Nadal and Charlatan, arrived Tuesday following a flight that originated earlier in the day in Southern California. Both are entered in Saturday’s split $500,000 Arkansas Derby (G1) for 3-year-olds. Arriving on the same flight was another Arkansas Derby entrant, 2-year-old champion male Storm the Court, for trainer Peter Eurton. … Mexican star Letruska (8 for 9 overall) is entered in Thursday’s eighth race, a 1-mile allowance for older fillies and mares, for trainer Fausto Gutierrez. Previously based in south Florida, Letruska represented the first Oaklawn starter for Gutierrez in an April 16 allowance victory. Also entered are Motion Emotion, runner-up in the $500,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) last year at Oaklawn, and 2017 Fantasy third Vexatious. … Jon Court, Oaklawn’s leading rider in 2000, is scheduled to make his comeback in Friday’s fifth race aboard Colonelsdarktemper for trainer Jinks Fires of Hot Springs. Court, 59, hasn’t ridden since Feb. 13 after sustaining broken ribs and a collapsed lung, in an accident going to the gate for a race, his longtime agent, “Big Steve” Krajcir of Hot Springs, said. Court, who is named on two horses Saturday, has 4,181 career victories to rank 63rd in North American history, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Court has 688 career victories at Oaklawn, the first coming in 1981.

Oaklawn Park Daily Results and Activity

Results

Thursday, April 30
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Maiden Claiming – $16,000 $17,200 Overnight Overnight
Race 2 Waiver Claiming – $10,000 $17,200 Overnight Overnight
Race 3 Claiming – $8,000 $17,500 Overnight Overnight
Race 4 Maiden Special Weight $60,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 5 Claiming – $20,000 $25,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 6 Claiming – $40,000 $28,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 7 Claiming – $40,000 $27,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 8 Allowance Optional Claiming – $75,000 $62,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 9 Allowance $61,000 Overnight Overnight

 

Oaklawn Park Daily Results and Activity

Final Entries

Friday, May 1
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Claiming – $8,000 $17,500
Race 2 Claiming – $16,000 $18,200
Race 3 Allowance $61,000
Race 4 Claiming – $8,000 $17,500
Race 5 Claiming – $32,000 $30,000
Race 6 Maiden Special Weight $60,000
Race 7 Arkansas Breeders’ Championship S. $165,000
Race 8 Gardenia S. $80,000
Race 9 Fantasy S. $400,000
Race 10 Allowance Optional Claiming – $40,000 $62,000

 

Saturday, May 2
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Starter Allowance – $40,000 $32,000
Race 2 Maiden Special Weight $60,000
Race 3 Allowance $61,000
Race 4 Maiden Special Weight $60,000
Race 5 Allowance Optional Claiming – $75,000 $62,000
Race 6 Maiden Special Weight $60,000
Race 7 Allowance Optional Claiming – $100,000 $61,000
Race 8 Allowance $61,000
Race 9 Allowance Optional Claiming – $40,000 $62,000
Race 10 Allowance Optional Claiming – $80,000 $61,000
Race 11 Arkansas Derby $500,000
Race 12 Oaklawn H. $600,000
Race 13 Arkansas Derby $500,000
Race 14 Starter Allowance – $10,000 $50,000

ARKANSAS DERBY THIS SATURDAY SPLIT INTO TWO DIVISIONS

ELEVENTH RACE Probable Post 5:29 CDT 
1 1/8 Miles. 3-Year-Olds. ArkDerby (Grade 1). Purse: $500,000

 PP   HORSE   PR. RIDER   WT.   COMMENTS   PR.ODDS 

 1   Charlatan   Garcia M    118       1-1 
 4   Gouverneur Morris   Velazquez J R    118       9-2 
 8   Anneau d’Or   Hernandez J J    118       6-1 
 6   Shooters Shoot   Talamo J    118       8-1 
 11   Basin   Santana R Jr    122       8-1 
 9   Winning Impression   Leparoux J R    118       15-1 
 2   My Friends Beer   Cannon D    118       20-1 
 7   Wrecking Crew   Prat F    118       20-1 
 10   Crypto Cash   Lanerie C J    118       20-1 
 3   Mo Mosa   Carmouche K    118       30-1 
 5   Jungle Runner   Baze T C    122       30-1 

 

THIRTEENTH RACE Probable Post 6:43 CDT 
1 1/8 Miles. 3-Year-Olds. ArkDerby (Grade 1). Purse: $500,000

 PP   HORSE   PR. RIDER   WT.   COMMENTS   PR.ODDS 

 5   Nadal   Rosario J    122       5-2 
 4   King Guillermo   Camacho S    122       3-1 
 11   Wells Bayou   Geroux F    122       7-2 
 3   Storm the Court   Prat F    122       6-1 
 7   Silver Prospector   Santana R Jr    122       10-1 
 8   Fast Enough   Baze T C    122       12-1 
 10   Farmington Road   Castellano J J    118       12-1 
 1   Finnick the Fierce   Garcia M    118       15-1 
 9   Taishan   Cohen D    118       15-1 
 2   Saratogian   Talamo J    122       50-1 
 6   Code Runner   Elliott S    122       50-1 

Oaklawn Park Daily Results and Activity

Early Entries

Saturday, May 2 Overnight
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Starter Allowance – $40,000 $32,000
Race 2 Maiden Special Weight $60,000
Race 3 Allowance $61,000
Race 4 Maiden Special Weight $60,000
Race 5 Allowance Optional Claiming – $75,000 $62,000
Race 6 Maiden Special Weight $60,000
Race 7 Allowance Optional Claiming – $100,000 $61,000
Race 8 Allowance $61,000
Race 9 Allowance Optional Claiming – $40,000 $62,000
Race 10 Allowance Optional Claiming – $80,000 $61,000
Race 11 Arkansas Derby $500,000
Race 12 Oaklawn H. $600,000
Race 13 Arkansas Derby $500,000
Race 14 Starter Allowance – $10,000 $50,000

OAKLAWN SPLITS ARKANSAS DERBY; BOTH RACES TO CARRY FULL POINTS

OAKLAWN SPLITS ARKANSAS DERBY; BOTH RACES TO CARRY FULL POINTS

HOT SPRINGS, AR (Sunday, April 26, 2020) – In a move believed to be unprecedented in American racing history, Oaklawn will split the 84th running of the Arkansas Derby Saturday, May 2. Thanks to the cooperation of Churchill Downs, both divisions will carry the full 170 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby (G1).

The Arkansas Derby was originally scheduled to have a purse of $1,000,000. Under the provisions of the split, each division will have a purse of $500,000.

In making the announcement, Oaklawn President Louis Cella said, “Because of our national crisis, we and the entire world of sports are in uncharted waters requiring unprecedented actions.  We’re trying to make the best of a very, very difficult situation. On the one hand, it is the worst of times to be racing without fans in our grandstand. On the other, we have a large number of exceptional three-year-olds wanting to run in our Arkansas Derby. We simply did not want to see anyone lose that opportunity.”

A total of 22 horses are expected to go postward between the two divisions, including winners of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), the Rebel Stakes (G2), the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), and the Louisiana Derby (G2).

Because of Covid-19, Oaklawn has been racing without fans since March 13, a crippling blow since Oaklawn is the largest tourism venue in Arkansas.

“We are not alone in our suffering,” said Cella. “All of America is hurting. By maintaining some semblance of a racing program, at least we’ve been able to help horse owners, their employees, trainers, and jockeys while providing sport for racing fans across the country to enjoy.”

Cella said he began talking to Churchill Downs a month ago about the possibility of a split while maintaining the points, and both quickly agreed this development would be in the best interest of racing.

Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery said, “We’re in the midst of an unprecedented year.  We recognize that there are numerous 3-year-olds currently in training with limited racing opportunities, and our prominent partner Oaklawn Park is in a unique and important position to immediately fill a void for horsemen. An extension of the Road to the Kentucky Derby will continue to evolve in the weeks ahead. Our Churchill Downs team is united in our commitment to holding the very best Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5, and it will certainly be one of the most memorable of our lifetimes.”

In partnership with the Arkansas HBPA, Oaklawn has gone to extraordinary lengths to keep everyone working on the backstretch as safe as possible. Cella said the safety measures have been so successful that the track was recently contacted by another professional sports league seeking information on all of the safety measures that Oaklawn has implemented over the past several weeks. Protocols have included but not been limited to: temperature checking everyone that enters the stable area and grandstand area daily; limiting access to the paddock and winner’s circle; and separate jockey quarters for out-of-state riders.

“Our partnership with the horsemen this year during the Covid-19 pandemic has shown a remarkable level of unity and has made all of us very proud,” said Cella. He gave particular credit to HBPA President Bill Walmsley.

Although fans will not be allowed at Oaklawn for the Arkansas Derby, the entire closing day card will be broadcast on FoxSports1 and TVG. Partial card including stakes races will be shown on NBC Sports (TVG feed). Arkansas fans will be able to wager on OaklawnAnywhere.com or via the app. There will be 12 other races on the 14-race card, including the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap. First post will be at 12 noon.

Improbable Works Toward Oaklawn Handicap

Improbable Works Toward Oaklawn Handicap

Grade 1 winner Improbable completed major preparations for the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses at 1 1/8 miles May 2 with a 5-furlong workout over a fast track Sunday morning at Oaklawn for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. Later in the day, Improbable drew post 14 of 14 for the race, the second straight race where he’s drawn the far outside.

Improbable breezed after the first surface renovation break under Martin Garcia, covering the distance in 1:00.20. Clockers caught the flashy chestnut in :37 for his opening 3 furlongs and galloping out in 6 furlongs in 1:12.60 and 7 furlongs in 1:26.20.

Improbable is seeking his first career victory at Oaklawn after three runner-up finishes – first division of the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) and $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) last year and the $150,000 Oaklawn Mile April 11 in his 4-year-old debut. Improbable has been under the care of Jimmy Barnes, Baffert’s traveling assistant, for all three races.

In the Oaklawn Mile, Improbable was beaten three-quarters of a length by millionaire Grade 1 winner Tom’s d’Etat after acting up in the starting gate and breaking from the extreme outside, post 11, under Drayden Van Dyke. Improbable has had a history of getting antsy in the gate.

“He ran a winning race,” the Southern California-based Baffert said. “Got beat by a really good horse. His gate issues, I don’t know why … you take him in the morning and you could set a bomb off in the gate and he won’t move. He knows. He’s smart. That’s the reason I left him there. That gate crew is getting to know him really well, and I think that’s going to help. Jimmy said the starter has been working with things on him and they’re going to figure him out. We’ll see what happens.”

Improbable schooled in the gate April 19 and breezed a half-mile in :49.40 Tuesday morning.

A son of the late City Zip, Improbable has a 4-3-0 record from 11 lifetime starts and earnings of $949,520. Improbable was unbeaten in three starts at 2, including the $300,000 Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) at Los Alamitos, before suffering his first career loss in the Rebel, which was his 2019 debut.

By the Numbers

After 11 career starts, trainer Juan Carlos Avila said he’s figured out that Trophy Chaser’s best races are routes. The 4-year-old son of Twirling Candy will get another chance to shine around two turns in the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses at 1 1/8 miles May 2.

“I made a mistake for six months,” said Avila, who also owns Trophy Chaser. “I ran him 6 furlongs, 6 furlongs, 6 furlongs.”

After running third, fourth and fourth in those races, including the $300,000 Gallant Bob Stakes (G2) Sept. 21 at Parx, Trophy Chaser is 2 for 2 this year in his return to routes. Trophy Chaser was an 8 ¼-length allowance winner at 1 1/8 miles Feb. 2 at Gulfstream Park and won the $100,000 Challenger Stakes (G3) by a neck March 7 at Tampa Bay Downs. The Challenger was 1 1/16 miles.

Trophy Chaser hadn’t routed since finishing second, beaten a neck, in the $100,000 Mucho Macho Man Stakes in January 2019 at Gulfstream Park. The 1-mile race was his 3-year-old debut.

“He had a little problem and went to the farm for three months,” Avila said. “When he came back, I put him in a 7-furlong race. Very nice; 96 Beyer number. I am crazy, so I go to 6 furlongs, 6 furlongs. Third place, third place. I said, ‘Go to the long distance.’ He ran two big races. No more 6-furlong races.”

Avila said Trophy Chaser was rerouted to Oaklawn after the $1 million Charles Town Classic (G2) April 18 at Charles Town was postponed (Covid-19).

“The horse is running well,” Avila said.

Trophy Chaser and stablemate King Guillermo will represent the first local starters for the Florida-based Avila, who amassed roughly 3,000 victories in his native Venezuela before saddling his first United States winner in March 2018. King Guillermo is pointing for the split $500,000 Arkansas Derby (G1) May 2.

King Guillermo, a son of champion Uncle Mo, is coming off a 4 ¾-length victory in the $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2) March 7 at Tampa Bay Downs.

Finish Lines

A double Saturday increased Ricardo Santana Jr.’s lead in the rider standings after 53 days of the scheduled 57-day meeting. Santana won the fifth race favored Town Champ ($4.60) for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and the 10th race, the $125,000 Carousel Stakes for older female sprinters, aboard million Grade 1 winner Mia Mischief ($5) for Asmussen. The double gave Santana 53 victories, four more than Joe Talamo and Martin Garcia. Defending champion David Cohen is fourth with 43 victories. Santana was Oaklawn’s leading rider in 2013-2018. Mia Mischief represented the 691st career Oaklawn victory for Asmussen, a 10-time local training champion … Talamo rode one winner Saturday, Long Weekend, who captured the $100,000 Bachelor Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters. Long Weekend ($6.20) represented the 50th career Oaklawn victory and meet-high eighth stakes victory this year for Talamo, who is riding regularly in Hot Springs for the first time. … Town Champ, who became the meet’s first four-time winner, was claimed for $32,000 by trainer Greg Compton, who said he plans to point the 6-year-old gelding for an allowance race at Lone Star Park. … Friday’s $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles drew a field of 14, including champion British Idiom and Grade 3 winner Shedaresthedevil for trainer Brad Cox and Grade 2 winner Venetian Harbor for trainer Richard Baltas. Shedaresthedevil won the $300,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 7. The Honeybee is traditionally the final major local prep for the Fantasy.

Oaklawn Park Daily Results and Activity

Results

Sunday, April 26
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Claiming – $16,000 $18,200 Overnight Overnight
Race 2 Maiden Claiming – $12,500 $17,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 3 Claiming – $10,000 $17,200 Overnight Overnight
Race 4 Waiver Maiden Claiming – $16,000 $17,200 Overnight Overnight
Race 5 Claiming – $6,250 $17,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 6 Claiming – $16,000 $18,200 Overnight Overnight
Race 7 Waiver Claiming – $20,000 $25,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 8 Maiden Special Weight $60,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 9 Allowance Optional Claiming – $80,000 $61,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 10 Allowance $61,000 Overnight Overnight



Early Entries

Saturday, May 2 Overnight
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Starter Allowance – $40,000 $32,000
Race 2 Maiden Special Weight $60,000
Race 3 Allowance $61,000
Race 4 Maiden Special Weight $60,000
Race 5 Allowance Optional Claiming – $75,000 $62,000
Race 6 Maiden Special Weight $60,000
Race 7 Allowance Optional Claiming – $100,000 $61,000
Race 8 Allowance $61,000
Race 9 Allowance Optional Claiming – $40,000 $62,000
Race 10 Allowance Optional Claiming – $80,000 $61,000
Race 11 Arkansas Derby $500,000
Race 12 Oaklawn H. $600,000
Race 13 Arkansas Derby $500,000
Race 14 Starter Allowance – $10,000 $50,000

Final Entries

Thursday, April 30
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Maiden Claiming – $16,000 $17,200
Race 2 Waiver Claiming – $10,000 $17,200
Race 3 Claiming – $8,000 $17,500
Race 4 Maiden Special Weight $60,000
Race 5 Claiming – $20,000 $25,000
Race 6 Claiming – $40,000 $28,000
Race 7 Claiming – $40,000 $27,000
Race 8 Allowance Optional Claiming – $75,000 $62,000
Race 9 Allowance $61,000

The King is on the Grounds

The King is on the Grounds

Tampa Bay Derby winner King Guillermo went to the track for the first time since arriving Thursday afternoon at Oaklawn, jogging the wrong way after the surface renovation break Saturday morning for trainer Juan Carlos Avila in advance of the $750,000 Arkansas Derby (G1) at 1 1/8 miles May 2.

Owned by five-time major league All-Star Victor Martinez, King Guillermo and stablemate Trophy Chaser will represent the first local starters for the Florida-based Avila, who amassed roughly 3,000 victories in his native Venezuela before saddling his first United States winner in March 2018. Trophy Chaser, who is owned by Avila, is pointing for the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses May 2.

King Guillermo, a son of champion Uncle Mo, is coming off a 4 ¾-length victory in the $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2) March 7 at Tampa Bay Downs. Avila said he originally planned to train King Guillermo up to the Kentucky Derby, but like numerous horsemen across the country called an audible because of Covid-19. King Guillermo will still be running May 2, just not in the Kentucky Derby after it was moved to Sept. 5.

“I didn’t have to change my training schedule,” Avila said after King Guillermo returned to the Heavenly Prize barn. “He worked very well Wednesday, very nice, at Gulfstream. He’s ready to run.”

King Guillermo covered a half-mile over a fast track in :48.18, his third published work at Gulfstream Park since winning the Tampa Bay Derby at odds of 49-1. King Guillermo won the Tampa Bay Derby in 1:42.63 for 1 1/16 miles, the third-fastest time in race history. King Guillermo and Trophy Chaser were vanned to Oaklawn, arriving at 2 p.m. (Central) Thursday, Avila said.

“He’s a nice horse,” Avila said of King Guillermo. “The perspiration, the aerobic, it’s very nice. He seems like he can run two miles. It’s excellent. It’s amazing, this horse. I’ve only been in the United States three years. I worked for 30 years in Venezuela. I’ve never seen one horse like this. I have 3,000 wins and many won many stakes internationally. This is an amazing horse.”

Overall, King Guillermo has a 2-0-1 mark from four lifetime starts and earnings of $240,350. Martinez purchased the colt for $150,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training.

A late Triple crown nominee, King Guillermo has 50 points to rank 10th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard. The Arkansas Derby will award 170 total points (100-40-20-10) to the top four finishers toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby.

Post positions for the Arkansas Derby will be drawn Sunday. The Oaklawn racing department listed at least 17 probables Saturday morning: Amen Corner for trainer Jeremiah O’Dwyer, Anneau d’Or (Blaine Wright), Basin (Steve Asmussen), Blackberry Wine (Joe Sharp), Charlatan (Bob Baffert), Farmington Road (Todd Pletcher), Fast Enough (Rafael Becerra), Gouverneur Morris (Pletcher), King Guillermo (Juan Carlos Avila), My Friends Beer (O’Dwyer), Nadal (Baffert), Shooters Shoot (Peter Eurton), Silver Prospector (Asmussen), Sole Volante (Patrick Biancone), Strom the Court (Eurton), Taishan (Richard Baltas) and Wells Bayou (Brad Cox).

The race is limited to 14 starters, based on total earnings.

Blackberry Wine completed major Arkansas Derby preparations by working a half-mile in :48 over a good track Saturday morning. Shooters Shoot also breezed Saturday morning, covering 5 furlongs in 1:00. It was the fastest of 10 works recorded at the distance.

After the Kentucky Derby was moved to the fall, Oaklawn responded by shifting the Arkansas Derby from April 11 to May 2.

The Apprentice

Kaylee Crotchett, an exercise rider for trainer Wayne Catalano, said Saturday morning that she hopes to make her riding debut before the meeting’s scheduled end, May 2.

Crotchett, 21, was raised in Henryville, Ind., about 25 miles north of Churchill Downs and has been galloping horses for approximately five years.

“I grew up with horses, just trail riding,” Crotchett said. “The race horses have always kind of been in and out of my life. I always knew I wanted to do something with it, so I started galloping when I was 16. Just been here ever since.”

Crotchett said she began galloping horses at a small training center in Indiana before moving to Churchill Downs to work as an exercise rider for trainer Buff Bradley. She spent approximately a year as an exercise rider for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas before joining Catalano a couple of months ago.

Crotchett said she galloped Grade 3 winner Warrior’s Club for Lukas. Crotchett is a regular morning partner of Manny Wah, who finished third in the $350,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) for older horses April 18.

“I’m very excited,” Crotchett said. “I’m hoping I can get in. I’m trying to talk to Lukas and see if he’ll put me on one before the end of the meet, but we’re running out of days.”

Crotchett said if she doesn’t make her career debut at Oaklawn, it will be in Kentucky, possibly at the Churchill Downs spring meeting.

“Hopefully, I can get at least one ride here, just so I don’t have to get OK’d again and go talk to the stewards,” Crotchett said.

Finish Lines

It was a violent late daily double Friday as sons of Grade 1 winner Violence scored sparkling 6-furlong allowance victories as heavy favorites. In his 4-year-old debut, Volatile ($4.40) was a 7 ½-length winner of the ninth race in a meet-best 1:08.48. Ricardo Santana Jr. rode Volatile (3 for 4 overall) for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. In the 10th race, No Parole ($4.20) was a front-running 2 ¾-length winner under Joe Talamo, covering 6 furlongs in 1:09.34. The Tom Amoss-trainee was cutting back to a sprint after finishing eighth in the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds March 14. … Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert moved to 6 for 10 at the meeting when Ragtime Blues ($6.60) broke his maiden in Friday’s seventh race under Martin Garcia. … K J’s Nobility, probable favorite for the $165,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Championship Stakes May 1, worked 5 furlongs in 1:00.40 Saturday morning for trainer Cecil Borel. The track was rated good.

Oaklawn Park Daily Results and Activity

Results

Saturday, April 25
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Maiden Special Weight $60,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 2 Claiming – $6,250 $17,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 3 Waiver Maiden Claiming – $30,000 $23,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 4 Claiming – $32,000 $28,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 5 Waiver Claiming – $32,000 $30,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 6 Allowance Optional Claiming – $80,000 $63,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 7 Claiming – $40,000 $28,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 8 Allowance $62,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 9 Bachelor S. $100,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 10 Carousel S. $125,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 11 Maiden Special Weight $60,000 Overnight Overnight



Early Entries

Friday, May 1 Overnight
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Claiming – $8,000 $17,500
Race 2 Claiming – $16,000 $18,200
Race 3 Allowance $61,000
Race 4 Claiming – $8,000 $17,500
Race 5 Claiming – $32,000 $30,000
Race 6 Maiden Special Weight $60,000
Race 7 Arkansas Breeders’ Championship S. $165,000
Race 8 Gardenia S. $80,000
Race 9 Fantasy S. $400,000
Race 10 Allowance Optional Claiming – $40,000 $62,000