Oaklawn Barn Notes: Warrior’s Charge Targeting Dec. 18 Tinsel Stakes
Sunday, December 05, 2021
Warrior’s Charge Targeting Dec. 18 Tinsel Stakes
Millionaire multiple Grade 3 winner Warrior’s Charge is targeting the inaugural $200,000 Tinsel Stakes Dec. 18 at Oaklawn for his next start, Liz Crow, racing manager for the horse’s co-owner, Ten Strike Racing, said Thursday afternoon.
Warrior’s Charge, who is trained by Brad Cox, has recorded two workouts this season at Oaklawn, including a 5-furlong drill in 1:00 over a fast track Saturday morning. The Tinsel, for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles, is among four stakes created to accommodate Oaklawn opening in December for the first time in its 117-year history.
“That’s the initial goal of the season, just to get him started down there,” Crow said.
Warrior’s Charge has made eight starts at Oaklawn, recording powerful maiden special weights and first-level allowance scores as a 3-year-old in 2019 before finishing fourth in the Preakness. He won Oaklawn’s $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses in 2020.
A son of Munnings, Warrior’s Charge has bankrolled $1,045,690 off a 5-4-4 record from 19 lifetime starts. Although winless in seven starts this year, Warrior’s Charge ran fifth in the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) last April at Oaklawn, second in the $600,000 Stephen Foster Stakes (G2) June 26 at Churchill Downs and third in the $200,000 Parx Dirt Mile Stakes Sept. 25 at Parx. Warrior's Charge ran second in an Oct. 24 allowance race at Keeneland in his last start.
“We’ve thought about it (retirement), but I think we’re going to run him through 2022, probably, unless we’re able to put something together,” Crow said. “But this is a racing partnership that loves Oaklawn, and they aim for Oaklawn every year and so I don’t think they want to retire him with some of these lucrative purses that they can aim for this season. Obviously, if the right deal came along, we’d probably consider it.”
Ten Strike (Marshall Gramm and Arkansas native Clay Sanders) won 10 races, solely or in partnership, during the 2021 Oaklawn meeting that ended last May. Ten Strike campaigns Warrior’s Charge with Madaket Stables (Sol Kumin).
Ten Strike, which offers fractional ownership to partners, has 20-25 horses at Oaklawn with five trainers, Crow said. In addition to Cox, Ten Strike also has horses with Jason Barkley, Bentley Combs, Randy Matthews and Lindsay Schultz. A former assistant under Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, Schultz recently went out on her own and had her first two career Oaklawn starters (Pepper Pike and Capture the Glory) Saturday. Both were for Ten Strike.
“Oaklawn’s always a main priority for Ten Strike,” Crow said. “We call ourselves like an Oaklawn-based racing partnership, so certainly always the goal is to win at Oaklawn and run at Oaklawn. I think Marshall and Clay like supporting these young trainers and we pushed Lindsay to Oaklawn to start her career, just because we thought that we be another great outlet to have horses there.”
Ten Strike also races several horses with prominent Arkansas businessman Frank Fletcher, including Grade 3 winner Lady Rocket and unbeaten 2-year-old Rocket Dawg, who is by 2017 Arkansas Derby winner and champion Classic Empire. Lady Rocket was the first starter and first winner for the partnership, breaking her maiden in her August 2020 debut at Saratoga.
Cox also trains Lady Rocket and Rocket Dawg, a $375,000 Fasig-Tipton Select Yearling Sale purchase and sharp Nov. 19 debut winner at Churchill Downs.
“Hopefully, he’ll make some starts at Oaklawn,” Crow said. “Really hope he can run in some of those races like the Smarty Jones and stuff, so we’ll see. I think that we have some exciting horses that are pointing toward Oaklawn this year.”
Lady Rocket, who ran in two allowances races at the 2021 Oaklawn meeting, was a nine-length winner of the $250,000 Go for Wand Handicap (G3) Saturday at Aqueduct. Rocket Dawg, who broke his maiden by 5 ½ lengths at 7 furlongs, returned to the work tab Saturday at Churchill Downs, breezing a half-mile in :49.60.
Lady Rocket is the first stakes winner and graded stakes winner for the Ten Strike/Fletcher union.
“It’s gone well so far,” Crow said. “It’s kind of a limited number of horses so far. They have only had like six horses together, but it looks like we have two good ones. Fingers crossed about Rocket Dawg. I don’t want to jinx him. I want him to stay sound, but we’re pretty excited about him. He ran some big numbers. He ran like an 11 Rag and a 3 ½ Thoro-Graph. He looks like he could be a really nice horse.”
Jockey Cristian Torres picked up where he left off last spring at Oaklawn, recording winners on the first two programs of the 2021-2022 meeting that began Friday.
Saturday’s victory came in the fourth race, a $101,000 allowance event at 1 1/16 miles, aboard Taishan ($5.40) for Southern California-based trainer Richard Baltas.
Despite missing the first six days of the 2021 meeting after moving his tack from Gulfstream Park, Torres finished seventh in the standings with 22 victories in his Oaklawn debut. Torres, 24, recorded his first career Oaklawn stakes victory on the penultimate day of the meeting in the $200,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Championship aboard Tempt Fate for Hot Springs owner Jerry Caroom.
“It was awesome,” Torres said. “Like everything, the beginning was a little slow and then I met people. Hopefully, this year will go better. We were here early and starting the meet from the beginning. Expecting a good meet.”
Dating to April 29, Torres, through Saturday, had ridden a winner five consecutive racing days at Oaklawn. He won the first race of the 2021-2022 meeting aboard Take Charge Erica ($9.40) for trainer Aaron Shorter.
A native of Puerto Rico, Torres was attending the country’s Escuela Vocacional Hipica Agustin Mercado Reveron when Hurricane Maria devastated the island in September 2017, roughly two months before he said he was to graduate from the famed jockey school.
Torres moved to Florida and eventually New York, where he began exercising horses for future Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse in 2018. Among the horses Torres said he got on for Casse were multiple Grade 1 winner Got Stormy, millionaire Awesome Slew and 2019 Preakness champion War of Will.
Torres began his riding career in April 2019 at Gulfstream Park and won 122 races that year to finish 76th nationally. He won 120 races the following year to finish 43rd. Torres was fourth in voting for an Eclipse Award as the country’s champion apprentice jockey of 2019 and finished fifth for 2020.
After Oaklawn’s 2021 meeting ended May 1, Torres returned to Gulfstream Park and rode 44 winners. He returned to Hot Springs late last month and said he plans to ride at Oaklawn until the meeting ends May 8.
“Last year I did pretty good and when I went back to Gulfstream, I had it in my mind to come back here,” Torres said. “I like it here. I like this track. I like the people.”
Torres is represented by Ruben Munoz, longtime agent for perennial Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr.
“He knows everybody,” Torres said of Munoz. “He knows how to do it.”
Fair Grounds-based trainer Dallas Stewart has a small string at Oaklawn. Stewart’s horses are being overseen by Jade Cunningham, an exercise rider at the 2021 Oaklawn meet for Stewart’s former boss, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. … Fair Grounds-based Reylu Gutierrez recorded his first career Oaklawn victory in Saturday’s 10th race aboard Gar Hole ($10.40) for trainer John Ortiz and breeder/owner John Ed Anthony of Hot Springs. Gar Hole gave agent Joe Santos a triple on the card after his Oaklawn-based David Cabrera won the first race aboard Dixie Penny ($13.40) trainer Kenny Smith and the sixth race aboard favored Sir Michael ($6) for trainer Norman Cash. It was the first career Oaklawn training victory for Cash, who previously raced horses, as an owner, in Hot Springs with trainer Kellyn Gorder. … Millionaire multiple Grade 2 winner Lone Rock worked a half-mile in :49.80 Saturday morning for trainer Robertino Diodoro in advance of the inaugural $200,000 Tinsel Stakes at 1 1/8 miles Dec. 18 at Oaklawn. … Necker Island, winner of the $300,000 Bet On Sunshine Stakes Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs, will be pointed for the $150,000 King Cotton Stakes Jan. 29, trainer Chris Hartman said. Hartman said he hopes he can take Necker Island through Oaklawn’s three-race stakes series for older sprinters in 2022. It continues with the $200,000 Whitmore March 19 and the $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 16. Hartman won the 2015 Count Fleet with millionaire Alsvid. Necker Island ran fourth in the $150,000 Thanksgiving Day Classic Stakes Nov. 25 at Fair Grounds in his last start.