Oaklawn Barn Notes Jan. 17.

Jan. 18, 2013

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Brown Almighty Tightens Up for Smarty Jones

The connections of Brown Almighty have been planning their colt’s dirt debut for months now and on Monday their wait will be over when the colt makes his much anticipated start in the $150,000 Smarty Jones, the first in a series of 3-year-olds races leading toward the April 13 Arkansas Derby and the Triple Crown races beyond. Trainer Tim Ice sent the colt out for the finishing touches to his training Thursday.

 “The workout went well,” said Ice. “He breezed 3/8s and I had him around 36 and change. The Clockers had him 36 & 2 galloped out in 49, so it all went really well. He actually ended up getting behind horses and getting more dirt kicked in his face. Overall, I thought it was a great work, and it gave him a little more experience with the dirt hitting him in the face. All systems are a go. I think it’s very important, especially for young horses and for him more so because he’s been racing on the turf and hasn’t had that kickback. So, for him to get that in his face in the mornings, I think it’s going to help him more in the afternoon just to be used to it, where he’ll run through it and it doesn’t bother him.”

Brown Almighty was the first stakes winner for his sire Big Brown, the 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner. And, like his sire, he raced exclusively on turf as a juvenile. Now, the question will be can he emulate Big Brown’s dirt success.

“You kind of put the pressure on yourself,” explained Ice. “As far as everybody is concerned, if we’ve done our job, he’s going to go out and do his. The expectations are high, but there’s no pressure.”

Also working Thursday in preparation for the Smarty Jones was Officer Alex, who breezed five furlongs in 59 3/5, and Mr. Blackthorn, who breezed three furlongs in 36 4/5.

 Lukas Charting Path for 3-Year-Olds

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who is tied with Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons for the most Triple Crown race victories with 13, hasn’t lost the drive to achieve #14 and has several promising 3-year-olds that will keep him very busy over the holiday weekend. Sunday he will send Oxbox to post in the $200,000 Lecomte Stakes (G3) at Fair Grounds and then on Monday, he will send out Will Take Charge in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn. In between, the two races for colts and geldings, he will saddle Neith for Sunday’s $60,000 Dixie Belle Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Another colt that Lukas is very high on is Titletown Five, which is owned by former NFL stars Paul Hornung and Willie Davis, along with the CEO of the Green Bay Packers. He has given that colt a little time and hopes to bring him back for a mid-March start.  He thinks this colt is the real deal and has been encouraged by a number of folks in racing to point him to the big races.  He’s really enthused to bring Titletown Five back later in Oaklawn’s meet.

Lukas also commented that he thought the University of Arkansas made a good move by hiring Brent Bielema as its football coach.  He thought they made a big mistake in Fayetteville when they replaced Bobby Petrino, but is convinced they got a good one in Bielema. Of course, Lukas is a Wisconsin guy, as is Bielema and the owners of Titletown Five.