Jan. 25, 2013
Lukas Looks for another Big Weekend with King Cotton Pair
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas will try to keep his momentum going after two stakes victories last week with another pair of victories Saturday. He will start both Laurie’s Rocket and Hamazing Destiny, the 5-2 favorite, in the $60,000 King Cotton at Oaklawn and last year’s Rebel Stakes runner-up Optimizer, the 7-2 favorite in the $125,000 Col. E.R. Bradley Handicap (G3) at Fair Grounds. Last Saturday, he won Fair Grounds Lecomte Stakes (G3) with Oxbow and Monday he won Oaklawn’s Smarty Jones Stakes with Will Take Charge.
It is not hard to see how Westrock Stable’s Hamazing Destiny earned the favorite’s role in the King Cotton. Last year, he used his second-place finish in the six furlong race as a springboard to a very successful year. He finished his Oaklawn meet with a third in the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) and one month later earned his first career graded stakes win in the Maryland Sprint Handicap (G3). Among his most impressive races last year was a second to Emcee in the Grade 1 Forego Handicap at Saratoga. He will be ridden by Robby Albarado, currently the meet’s leading rider.
Willis D. Horton’s Laurie’s Rocket will attempt to be the second straight stakes winner for his owner and trainer after stablemate Will Take Charge. He made a successful 4-year-old debut Jan. 17 at Oaklawn, easily winning an optional allowance race by 1 ½ lengths. Last year, he won the $75,000 Bachelor Stakes at Oaklawn at the six furlong distance after earlier trying his hand in longer races such as the Smarty Jones and Southwest Stakes (G3). He will reunite with jockey Victor Lebron, who was aboard for that last win.
Trainer Phil Sims, spending his first winter in Hot Springs, has also been on a roll since the start of the meet, already winning three races, including the $75,000 Pippin Stakes with Don’t Tell Sophia. He will be looking to add another win with Sierra Farm’s Ready for More, who was riding a four-race win streak in sprint races on the dirt until switching to turf and finishing eight in the $75,000 Bonapaw Stakes at Fair Grounds Dec. 22.
“He had won on the turf at Keeneland, so we gave him a shot in the race at Fair Grounds,” said Sims. “He just didn’t seem to like the turf there, but has been training really well here. It’s been good happenstance that the horses have run so well here. It’s always nice when things fall the way you planned.”
The field for the King Cotton also attracted Apprehender, second to the Laurie’s Rocket in last year’s Bachelor Stakes, 2012 Remington Park Sprint Cup winner Alsvid and Bet the Power, who has three wins and two seconds in five starts at Oaklawn.
The complete field for the King Cotton, in post-position order, with riders and morning line odds: Alsvid, Cliff Berry, 3-1; Apprehender, Alex Birzer, 5-1; Ready for More, Ramon Vazquez, 6-1; Laurie’s Rocket, Victor Lebron, 7-2; Bet the Power, Alex Cintron, 4-1, and Hamazing Destiny, Robby Albarado, 5-2.
Pin Oak Stable’s Alternation continued to progress to his seasonal debut with another three-furlong workout Thursday, covering the distance in 37 2/5 … Cresran LLC’s Tiz Miz Sue, preparing to defend her title in the March 16 Azeri Stakes (G3), worked five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 Thursday … Jockey Jon Court, who was aboard both Oxbow and Will Take Charge for their victories last week for D. Wayne Lukas, returns to the Fair Grounds Saturday to ride Optimizer in the Col. E.R. Bradley Handicap … Oaklawn’s replay show “Oaklawn Today” will now air at 8 p.m. on Resort Cable Channel 5. It had been airing at 7:30 p.m. It will continue to air at 11 p.m. on KARZ Channel 42.