April 2, 2014
Stopchargingmaria Readies for Fantasy Stakes
Repole Stable's multiple graded stakes winning filly Stopchargingmaria has settled in nicely at Oaklawn Park and is good to go for Saturday's $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3), which offers the opportunity to earn qualifying points for the Kentucky Oaks (G1).
"She shipped fine and is comfortable at Oaklawn," multiple Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher said. "She's already had a couple of gallops over the track and is doing well. We're looking forward to her race."
Stopchargingmaria, who ended her juvenile campaign with victories in the Tempted Stakes (G3) and Demoiselle Stakes (G2) last fall at Aqueduct, gets the chance to redeem herself in the race for 3-year-old fillies after faltering in her only effort so far this year. She tired and wound up fifth as the second favorite in the Davona Dale (G2) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 22.
"We were disappointed with her first race back, but like a number of other fillies in that race, she got caught up in the pace scenario that day,” said Pletcher. “It was the only time in her career that she didn't fire. She came back in good order and since then, she has been training well."
Stopchargingmaria has a progressive work pattern at Palm Meadows Training Center in South Florida, and two breezes back, she turned in a bullet 4f breeze in :48 flat for the fastest time of the distance of 52 horses. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Tale of the Cat has won three of six starts and has one second and one third with $554,000 to her credit.
Pletcher said that he hopes she will regain her form in the Fantasy, which will be contested at 1 1/6 miles.
"This race will determine whether she goes on to the Oaks or not," said Pletcher, who gave Oaklawn based jockey Ramon Vazquez the call. "But first, let's get this one under her belt."
The Fantasy is among the races in the second leg of the qualifying series for the Kentucky Oaks, which is limited to 14 starters, and it offers 170 points (100-40-20-10) to the top four finishers. Stopcharging Maria comes into the race with 12 points for 16th place.
The Fantasy field, from the rail, out, is: Sugar Shock (Channing Hill), Haveyougoneaway (Jareth Loveberry), Euphrosyne (Ricardo Santana Jr.), Mufajaah (Joe Johnson), Kiss Moon (Terry Thompson), Please Explain (Drayden Van Dyke), Stopchargingmaria (Ramon Vazquez), and Courageous Julie (Jon Court).
Pletcher also said that his two other charges who will compete in the Racing Festival of the South, $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) candidate Commissioner and $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) contenders Revolutionary and Golden Lad, will travel and arrive on the grounds Apr. 8. Golden Lad, a winner of four straight races, was victorious in the $200,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) here last time out.
Will Take Charge and Strong Mandate Work Toward Festival Starts
Reigning 3-year-old Champion Will Take Charge, winner of last year’s Smarty Jones and Rebel Stakes, moved one step closer to his first start at Oaklawn this meet by working five furlongs Tuesday in 1:01 3/5 over a fast track. The 4-year-old Unbridled’s song colt will be seeking his first win of the year in the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 12 after near misses in the Donn Handicap (G1) at Gulfstream and the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) at Santa Anita.
Will Take Charge’s stablemate, Strong Mandate, also worked five furlongs Tuesday in preparation for his start in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 12, covering the distance in 1:00 4/5. He too is seeking his first victory of the year after a second in the Southwest Stakes (G3) and a fourth-place finish in the Rebel Stakes (G2) and gets a new rider in Luis Saez, the regular rider of Will Take Charge.
“We were pleased with both works,” Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said. “It was time to get a little more serious now that we’re closing in on the main event. They both passed their test and they won’t have to do much more as they get closer to race day. Jockey Luis Saez will ride both Strong Mandate and Will Take Charge.”
Also, working during Oaklawn’s dark days was Winchell Thoroughbred LLC’s Tapiture, who worked five furlongs in a bullet 1:00 4/5 Monday. The Tapit colt, who won the Southwest Stakes and was second in the Rebel Stakes earlier this meet, will have the services of Joel Rosario, who replaces Ricardo Santana Jr. in the Arkansas Derby.
When asked what made him chose Rosario for Tapiture, trainer Steve Asmussen replied “His win in the 2013 Kentucky Derby.”