Jan. 10, 2013
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
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.
Winning Horses Stable and Choctaw Racing Stable’s Officer Alex closed out 2012 by winning the Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes, the same race 2004 Arkansas Derby, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Smarty Jones used as a launching pad to great success. In preparations for the Smarty Jones, the Officer colt breezed a half-mile in 49 4/5 Wednesday over a fast Oaklawn track.
“He’ll do a little something more before he runs,” said Whiting. “He’s a pretty decent horse, but he has to prove how good he is. You can project a lot of things but he has to answer the questions. He’ll get a good three-quarters workout probably on Sunday and that should have him ready. He’s coming off a good seven-eighths race and he put in a nice breeze before he left Churchill Downs. I’ve already done something easy with him here just to get him over the track…something like an intermediate work in 49 and 4, galloped out in 1:04. He handled it well. We will ask him to get a little dirty on Sunday and that should have him ready.”
The complete field for the Dixie Belle, in post-position order, with odds: No Free Ride, Rosemary Homeister Jr.; Baby Princess, Ramon Vazquez; American Sugar, Alex Birzer; Little Miss Fitz, Ricardo Santana Jr.; Sheila Tequila, Lindey Wade; Neith, Victor Lebron, and Lady Stonewell, Robby Albarado.
American Sugar Brings Experience into Dixie Belle
Poindexter Thoroughbred’s American Sugar has already done something that no other filly in the Dixie Belle has – she has won a stakes race, actually two of them. She also even held her own against colts when third in the Prairie Meadows Juvenile Mile. Now, the question she must answer is whether or not she can carry her 2-year-old form into her 3-year-old season and continue down the path towards the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 10.
“She’s doing very well,” said trainer Lynn Chleborad. “She really seems to like the surface here. In her last race (when fourth in the Mistletoe Stakes at Remington Dec. 9), she drew the 12 hole and had a very wide trip, but only got beat a few lengths. She’s always shown she has the potential to be a top filly. Her only bad race was the Arlington Washington Lassie and she just didn’t like the Polytrack.“Some 2-year-olds are just precocious, but we expect her to remain the same at three. We’ll see how she fits with these fillies on Saturday.