Barn Notes 1/17/24

Compiled by Robert Yates

It costs $20 to park on live racing Saturdays in main lot adjacent to Oaklawn owned by Hot Springs resident Staton Flurry and his mother, Dorothy.

Twenty to Park – the horse – has quickly become another money maker for Staton Flurry, 33, who is Oaklawn’s leading owner this season. Flurry notched his sixth victory of the meeting when favored Twenty to Park captured Friday’s fifth race by nine lengths, a $115,000 Arkansas-bred maiden special weight sprint for 3-year-olds, for trainer Matt Shirer.

“Definitely excited about how he ran,” Flurry said moments after the gelding’s victory. “Just keep him happy and healthy for the rest of the season and see where he takes us.”

Breaking from the rail under Francisco Arrieta, Twenty to Park raced just behind the early leaders before accelerating through a seem turning for home and widening his advantage late. Twenty to Park ($6.20) covered 6 furlongs over a muddy, sealed surface in 1:12.58, fastest of five races that day at the distance.

Flurry privately purchased Twenty to Park from his Arkansas breeder, Bill McDowell, whose McDowell Farm is about 40 miles southeast of Hot Springs.

“I bought him as a foal,” Flurry said. “He hadn’t even been weaned yet. I just liked the way he looked as a baby. I’m not going to say he’s been a problem child. He’s always shown he’s got talent, but like most of these Arkie-breds, his mind’s not the best thing out there.”

Twenty to Park had a series of workouts at Churchill Downs and Oaklawn in advance of Friday’s race. He tipped his hand Dec. 13 at Oaklawn, Flurry said, with a sharp 5-furlong work from the gate (1:01.20).

“When he broke out of the gate the first time, breezing, Matt and I looked at each other and were like: ‘Were we looking at the right time?’” Flurry said. “He showed he was very professional that day. Glad to see him put it all together. Hopefully, we can get a few more races in him and have him ready for the stakes later in the meet.”

Oaklawn’s signature event for 3-year-old Arkansas-bred sprinters is the $150,000 Rainbow Stakes April 6.

Twenty to Park is by the now-deceased Grade 3 winner Speightster out of Spirit Line, a daughter of Indian Charlie. Spirit Line raced twice in 2008 at Oaklawn for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, winning an allowance race before finishing sixth in the $75,000 Instant Racing Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Spirit Line’s first foal to reach the races, Sassy Kitten, was a multiple stakes winner in 2014 for nationally prominent breeder/owner Ken Ramsey and trainer Mike Maker.

“I just couldn’t think of anything Speightster,” Flurry said, outlining the naming process. “Well, it (Twenty to Park) popped in my mind. I really hadn’t been holding that one.”

McDowell, in partnership, bred Flurry’s first career Oaklawn stakes winner, Five O One, who captured the 2017 Rainbow for trainer Brad Cox, now a two-time Eclipse Award winner. Flurry named Five O One after Hot Springs’ area code.

“I’ve bought a bunch off Bill McDowell,” Flurry said. “He and I have a great friendship and a great relationship. He knows I’m going to give them to quality trainers and that helps his bank account, too.”

McDowell also bred Snow Flurry, an unstarted 3-year-old daughter of champion Good Magic who is nearing her career debut at Oaklawn for Flurry and Cox. Snow Flurry, another Arkansas-bred, is a half-sister to Malibu High, who finished third in the $60,000 Gazebo Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters in 2013 at Oaklawn.

“Hopefully, we can get the other half of the Arkansas equation, too, get rolling,” said Flurry, whose silks have a large white snowflake on the front and back “Definitely excited.”

Flurry (10 victories) tied for fourth in the 2022-2023 Oaklawn standings. Flurry is best known for campaigning millionaire multiple Grade 1 winner Shedaresthedevil in partnership.

Finish Lines

Trainer Fausto Gutierrez said Saturday afternoon that he believes champion Letruska will be bred this year to Gun Runner or Into Mischief. Gutierrez trained Letruska, who won Oaklawn’s $1 million Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) for older fillies and mares in 2021 and 2022. She is in foal to champion and two-time Oaklawn stakes winner Curlin, Gutierrez said. Gutierrez returned to Oaklawn to saddle Edistrudis in Saturday’s $150,000 Mockingbird Stakes. … Olivier, an unstarted 4-year-old full brother to 2022 Horse of the Year Flightline, posted a half-mile bullet workout from the gate (:47) Jan. 10 at Oaklawn for trainer Rodolphe Brisset.