Oaklawn Barn Notes - Jan. 17

Jan. 17, 2014

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Oaklawn’s Three-Year-Old Series Begins Monday

The road to the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) and subsequent Triple Crown races begins Monday with the seventh running of the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes, which drew a field of 10. In its short history, the Smarty Jones, which carries 17 points towards eligibility for the Kentucky Derby, has produced multiple Grade 1 winner Flat Out, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Caleb’s Posse and the likely 2013 champion three-year-old Will Take Charge.

Heading the 2014 class is John Oxley’s Coastline, who will be seeking to start his 3-year-old campaign on a winning note after closing out 2013 as the beaten favorite in the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes November 30. One race earlier, he had won his second straight race in the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill by three lengths. Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan will be in from the Fair Grounds to ride.

Trainer Bret Calhoun has several promising 3-year-olds this winter, but has decided that Terra De Sienna Stables’ Son of a Preacher will be his representative in Monday’s one mile race. The Pulpit colt won his career debut on Churchill’s main track impressively, but then encountered a troubled trip when trying turf in his second start. Most recently he finished second in an optional claiming race at Fair Grounds.

“This race is so wide open,” said Calhoun. “I think he’ll transition well from the surface at Fairgrounds to Oaklawn.  We’ll ship him up Saturday and he’ll be ready.”

The combination on trainer Cody Autrey and jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr. has been red-hot since opening day and they will pair with Tanzanite Cat, who broke his maiden in front running fashion by four lengths at Fair Grounds Dec. 8 and has several strong works at Oaklawn since. 

“He’s been (impressive maiden winner) Paganol’s workmate for the last 6 weeks,” said Autrey. “This horse is all speed; he’s ready to go.”

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas and jockey Jon Court, who partnered with Will Take Charge last year, will try for their second straight Smarty Jones Stakes with maiden Unstoppable Colby. The Pulpit colt showed improvement when finishing second in a maiden special weight at Churchill Nov. 30 in his last start.

The complete field for the Smarty Jones: D’Cajun Cat, Ricardo Santana Jr.; Whyruawesome, Channing Hill; Fire Starter, Robby Albarado; Son of a Preacher, Cliff Berry; A Step Ahead, Francisco Torres; Walt, Ken Tohill; Denali Rahy Ruler, Alex Birzer; Tanzanite Cat, Norberto Arroyo Jr.; Unstoppable Colby, Jon Court, and Coastline, Shaun Bridgmohan.

Whyruawesome Seeks Break Through Win in the Smarty Jones

Windy Hill Farm’s Whyruawesome, who hasn’t found the winners circle in four tries since breaking his maiden at first asking last August, has impressed trainer Anne Smith so much in his recent training that she’s sending him from her winter base at the Fair Grounds to take on the quality field in the Smarty Jones.

“He’s doing really well,” said Smith. “His confidence keeps improving and he’s definitely maturing. He’s got a really good mind for such a young horse. I can see the difference between him at ages two and three.”

The gelded son of Whywhywhy and the Awesome Again mare Awesome Frances was no threat to the winner when he last competed in November in the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs. After running on the Polytrack at Arlington and Keeneland in his first four efforts, it was his first race on the dirt.

Whyruawesome tuned up for the one-mile Smarty Jones with a pair of solid works on Jan. 5 (5f in 1:00.80 breezing) and Jan. 12 (4f in 48.08 breezing) over The Fair Grounds main track and is signaling that dirt may be his preferred surface.

Whyruawesome is scheduled to arrive in Hot Springs on Saturday and will be bedded down in the barn of Bret Calhoun. Smith said she will be at Oaklawn to saddle him and give jockey Channing Hill a leg up.

“Channing hasn’t ridden him before but he is familiar with him from seeing him run at Arlington last year and also being around my barn,” she said.