Barn Notes 1/27/24

Compiled by Robert Yates

The Oaklawn racing department listed 12 horses early Saturday afternoon that are under consideration for the 8 ½-furlong $800,000 G3-Southwest Stakes for 3-year-olds Feb. 3.

Entries will be taken, and post positions drawn Sunday for the Southwest, which was postponed one week because of severe winter weather. The Southwest will offer 42 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top five finishers (20-10-6-4-2, respectively) toward starting eligibility.

Expected Southwest entrants are: Carbone for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, Just Steel (D. Wayne Lukas), Liberal Arts (Robbie Medina), Lightline (Brad Cox), Linebacker (Jordan Blair), Magic Grant (Eddie Milligan Jr.), Maycocks Bay (Michael Stidham), Mystik Dan (Kenny McPeek) and Otto the Conqueror (Asmussen).

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is scheduled to be represented in the Southwest, which he has won a record six times. Asmussen, Cox and McPeek could have additional starters.

Oaklawn’s Kentucky Derby points series continues with the $1.25 G2-million Rebel Stakes Feb. 24 and $1.5 million G1-Arkansas Derby March 30.

A Gold Sweep?

Gold Sweep, who broke his maiden in the $150,000 Tremont Stakes last summer at Belmont Park, is scheduled to make his 2024 debut in Sunday’s eighth race at Oaklawn, a one-mile allowance race for 3-year-olds. The purse is $140,000.

Gold Sweep will be making his two-turn debut in the split race for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and Texas owner Mike McCarty. Gold Sweep is unraced since a fourth-place finish in the one-mile $500,000 G1-Champagne Stakes Oct. 7 at Aqueduct.

“Hope it’s the right spot for him,” Asmussen said. “Obviously, ran well early. Got a little off track with him. I think he’s better than that and expect him to run really well Sunday.”

Asked if Gold Sweep is auditioning for a Kentucky Derby points race, Asmussen said: “Of course.”

Asmussen is scheduled to have multiple starters in the $800,000 G3-Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 3

“Kind of unique circumstances in the fact that pushing back the Southwest is going to affect the Rebel, either positively or negatively,” Asmussen said. “But it will affect it, wheeling them back in three weeks. Hopefully, (Gold Sweep) handles his first two-turn race well and can be considered for the Rebel.”

A son of recently deceased sprint champion Speightstown, Gold Sweep (3-1 on the morning line) is scheduled to break from post 7 under Keith Asmussen. Gold Seep removes blinkers for his 3-year-old debut.

The 9-5 program favorite is Gettysburg Address for trainer Brad Cox. Gettysburg Address finished fourth in the $300,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 1. The Smarty Jones was Oaklawn’s first Kentucky Derby points race.

Probable post time for the eighth race is 3:52 p.m. (Central).

Olivier Debuts Sunday

Olivier, a 4-year-old full brother to unbeaten 2022 Horse of the Year Flightline, is scheduled to make his career debut in Sunday’s fifth race at Oaklawn, a $115,000 maiden special weight sprint.

Rodolphe Brisset trains Olivier, a gray son of Tapit and Oaklawn-raced Feathered, for the colt’s breeder, Arkansas native Jane Lyon (Summer Wind Farm), WinStar Farm and Siena Farm. Olivier RNA’d for $390,00 in the August 2021 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale (Flightline, then 3, only had one career start at the time).

“I needed somebody to call me to get this out of the way,” Brisset jokingly said in reference to a December article in Thoroughbred Daily News updating Olivier’s progress. “TDN did it.”

Brisset downplayed comparisons to Flightline, the John Sadler-trainee who capped a meteoric six-for-six lifetime campaign with a runaway score in the $6 million G1-0Breeders’ Cup Classic in November 2022 at Keeneland.

Brisset, late last year, projected a January debut for Olivier, who has logged seven published workouts at Oaklawn since Nov. 26. The last was a half-mile bullet (:47) out of the gate Jan. 10.

“He had a couple of setbacks,” Brisset said. “Just wanted to do right by him. Like I said in TDN, he’s not the same horse (as Flightline). I don’t want to compare, but I have to deal with it because he’s his full brother.”

Olivier, the 2-1 program favorite, is scheduled to break from post 4 under Oaklawn’s leading rider, Cristian Torres.

Probable post for the fifth race is 2:25 p.m. (Central).