Barn Notes 1/20/24

Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024

Compiled by Robert Yates

For Immediate Release

Among riding newcomers at the 2023-2024 Oaklawn meeting, Martin Chuan has made one of the biggest impacts through the first 14 race days.

Chuan, a champion jockey in his native Peru, is tied for eighth in the standings with six victories from 36 starts and ranks 10th in purse earnings ($470,346). Three of the victories have been for super trainer Brad Cox.

“I’m happy for the opportunity,” Chuan, 28, said. “My agent, Jake Romans, is doing a good job. My first time here, so I’m happy.”

Chuan rode his first race in the United States in 2013. He had one mount in the United States in 2017 and recorded two victories in 2018 and nine in 2019 before returning to Peru. He resurfaced in the United States last summer in Kentucky and began making a name for himself at Ellis Park, where he rode seven winners. Chuan added four more victories at the Churchill Downs fall meeting.

Chuan’s hook to Oaklawn was Cox, a two-time Eclipse Award winner as the country’s outstanding trainer. They teamed for two victories in 2019 and rekindled their business relationship last summer at Ellis Park. Their Oaklawn partnership has already resulted in three $115,000 maiden special weight victories. Overall, Chuan has an eye-catching 36 percent strike rate (9 for 25) with Cox.

“He came here (United States) like three or four years ago and we used him in Kentucky and we had some success,” Cox said. “He went back to Peru and he showed back up this summer. He’s a good rider. He worked hard at Ellis. We haven’t ridden him a lot, but when we have, he’s put horses in good positions. We like what we see from him.”

Chuan has also ridden two winners this season at Oaklawn for trainer Genaro Garcia and one for trainer Barry L. King. He has 37 career victories in the United States. He has also ridden winners for Romans’ father, trainer Dale Romans.

Two Turns Next?

Unbeaten Midshipman’s Dance will be considered for two-turn races following her half-length victory in the inaugural $150,000 Mockingbird Stakes for 3-year-old fillies Jan. 13 at Oaklawn, trainer Robertino Diodoro said.

Midshipman’s Dance received a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 79 for Mockingbird victory, which boosted her career record to 2 for 2. Midshipman’s Dance also won her Dec. 16 debut at Oaklawn by a half-length. Both races were 6 furlongs.

“I’m hoping and I’m thinking,” Diodoro said, when asked about two turns.

Midshipman’s Dance is by millionaire multiple Grade 1 winner Midshipman. The filly’s dam, Sticks Wondergirl, won the $250,000 Remington Park Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles in 2012 at Remington Park. Midshipman’s Dance, dating to Sept. 28, had 10 published workouts at Remington Park in advance of her career debut.

“She kind of got behind the other groups,” Diodoro said. “Every horse is different. We kind of went on with her and she wasn’t ready to go on. We kind of laid off of her midsummer and it’s paid off. At the same time, you’ve got to give the owners credit to have patience to let us do what we wanted to do with the horse.”

Midshipman’s Dance races for Little Rock, Ark., attorney John Holleman and Canadian Randy Howg.

Holleman, in partnership, recorded his first career Oaklawn victory when the Diodoro-trained Lovely Ride captured the $150,000 Mistletoe Stakes in December 2022. Diodoro and Howg teamed to win the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) in 2017 at Oaklawn with Inside Straight. Diodoro was Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 2020 and 2022-2023.

Oaklawn’s two-turn stakes series for 3-year-old fillies begins with the $250,000 Martha Washington Feb. 3. The 1 1/16-mile Martha Washington was originally scheduled Jan. 27, but moved after Oaklawn canceled racing and training this week because of arctic temperatures.

Finish Lines

Entries are to be taken and post positions drawn Sunday for the $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes for older horses Jan. 27 at Oaklawn. The one-mile Fifth Season was originally scheduled Jan. 20, but moved after Oaklawn canceled racing and training this week because of arctic temperatures. … Trainer Jinks Fires of Hot Springs said he will delay shoulder surgery (torn rotator cuff) until after the Oaklawn meeting ends May 4. Fires, 83, is the fourth-winningest trainer in Oaklawn history with 477 victories. Fires, in 2023-2024, is trying to extend his streak of at least one victory at every Oaklawn meeting since 1977. He has three horses entered Friday. … Oaklawn stakes winners Clairiere (older dirt female) and Gunite (male sprinter) are finalists for 2023 Eclipse Awards as champions in their respective divisions.