Barn Notes 3/17/24

Compiled by Robert Yates

Lightly raced Time for Truth will make his next start in the $1.5 million G1-Arkansas Derby March 30 at Oaklawn, trainer Ron Moquett said Sunday morning.

A son of 2019 Arkansas Derby winner Omaha Beach, Time for Truth will be making his first start in a Kentucky Derby points race. Time for Truth has won 2 of 3 starts overall, including a March 2 entry-level allowance at Oaklawn that marked his two-turn debut.

Time for Truth showed a new dimension in the 1 1/16-mile race, coming from off the pace to post a 1 ½-length victory under Rafael Bejarano, who will have the mount in the Arkansas Derby, Moquett said.

“We’re still trying to put it all together,” Moquett said. “He’s a very talented horse that we’re just trying to see where his maturation is. The other day we noticed, even though he won, when he made the front, he kind of waited on a horse for a second, but then galloped out really well. So, we’re trying to get him to do everything that he’s supposed to do to be more professional.”

Time for Truth returned to the work tab Saturday morning, covering six furlongs in 1:13 under Bejarano. The track was muddy.

“This was our meat and potatoes,” Moquett said. “Then, we’ll put a side on him next week.”

Time for Truth was scheduled to make his stakes debut in the $1.25 million G2-Rebel at 1 1/16 miles Feb. 24. But he was scratched after suffering a minor shin injury on the eve of the race, Moquett said, and rerouted to the allowance spot, which became his Arkansas Derby prep.

Time for Truth became the first Oaklawn winner for Omaha Beach with a front-running 1 ¾-length debut score at six furlongs Dec. 31. He tackled stakes company in his next start and finished second to Valentine Candy in the six-furlong $150,000 Ozark Feb. 10. Time for Truth, the betting favorite, was beaten 2 ½ lengths after leading to midstretch.

Time for Truth races for Arkansan Harry Rosenblum and Everett Dobson.

The Arkansas Derby will offer 200 points to its top five finishers (100-50-25-15-10, respectively) toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby, which is limited to 20 starters.

Other horses pointing to the Arkansas Derby include Mystik Dan for trainer Kenny McPeek, Liberal Arts (Robbie Medina) and Just Steel (D. Wayne Lukas).

Mystik Dan hasn’t started since an eight-length victory in the $800,000 G3-Southwest Stakesat 1 1/16 miles Feb. 3. The Southwest was Oaklawn’s second Kentucky Derby points race. Just Steel and Liberal Arts finished second and third, respectively, in the Southwest. Just Steel returned to finish a disappointing seventh in the Rebel, Oaklawn’s third Kentucky Derby points race.

Entries will be taken and post positions drawn March 24 for Arkansas Derby and three other stakes races March 30 at Oaklawn – $750,000 G2Fantasy (G2) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles, $500,000 Oaklawn Mile (G3) for older horses and the $250,000 Matron for older fillies and mares at 6 furlongs.

Promising Early Tax(ed) Returns

Grade 2 winner Taxed will be considered for the 8 1/2-furlong $1.25 million G1-Apple Blossom Handicap April 13 at Oaklawn following her sharp comeback victory in Saturday’s fifth race, a $141,000 allowance sprint for older fillies and mares, trainer Randy Morse said Sunday morning.

Sprinting for the first time in her career, Taxed ($7.60) lagged well off the early pace before inhaling her rivals through the stretch to win by 3 ½ widening lengths under leading rider Cristian Torres. The final time over a fast track was 1:10.53.

Morse received permission from track stewards before the race to allow Taxed to work an eighth of a mile past the finish line. The 4-year-old gray daughter of Collected covered 7 furlongs in 1:23.53.

“Couldn’t have worked out any better, because my big deal was the gallop out,” Morse said. “She was clear. There wasn’t any traffic and all that. It couldn’t have worked out any better if you scripted it out.”

Taxed hadn’t started since finishing third under Torres in the $175,000 Seneca Overnight Stakes for 3-year-old fillies Sept. 23 at Churchill Downs. Taxed was also facing older horses for the first time Saturday.

“She was great yesterday,” Torres said Sunday morning. “First time going short, she even surprised me. Very impressed with the way she ran on with those fractions and the way she finished. Very happy. She was working really well in the morning and that time off really got her back where she needs to be.”

On behalf of owner Richard Bahde, Morse claimed Taxed for $50,000 out of Nov. 20, 2022, victory at Churchill Downs. Taxed raced four times at the 2022-2023 Oaklawn meeting, finishing second to Wet Paint in two Kentucky Oaks qualifying races, notably the $600,000 G3-Fantasy Stakes.

Taxed then recorded her biggest career victory to date in the 1 1/8-miles $300,000 G2-Black-Eyed Susan Stakes May 19 at Pimlico. Taxed has a 3-3-1 record from 12 lifetime starts and earnings of $524,324.

Torres Approaching Milestone

Runaway riding leader Cristian Torres entered Sunday with 198 career Oaklawn victories after winning Saturday’s fifth race aboard Taxed.

Torres captured his first career Oaklawn riding title last season with 100 victories – retired Hall of Famer Pat Day is the only other rider in Oaklawn history to reach that total – and has 57 through the first 40 race days this season.

“It’s been great since we hit the new year,” Torres said Sunday morning. “It’s kind of like it’s taken off. I’m very happy with everything, all the owners, the trainers, the whole backside. I’ve worked hard and they’ve given me the opportunity.”

Torres also leads all riders at the 2023-2024 meeting in purse earnings ($4,407,709). He set Oaklawn’s single-season record in 2022-2023 ($6,163,941).Torres rode his first Oaklawn winner Feb. 11, 2021.

Finish Lines

Asternia, powerful winner of Saturday’s $200,000 Purple Martin Stakes for 3-year-old filly sprinters, will be considered for the $600,000 G2-Eight Belles Stakes May 3 at Churchill Downs, trainer Randy Morse said Sunday morning. … Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen won three races Saturday, pushing his 2023-2024 meet-leading total to 51. Saturday was Day 40 of the scheduled 64-day meeting. The late Cole Norman set Oaklawn’s single-season record for training victories, 71, at the weather-shortened 49-day meeting in 2003. … Jockey Keith Asmussen rode two of his father’s winners Saturday, increasing his career total to 98. … Grade 3 winner First Mission is among nine older horses entered in the $600,000 G3-Essex Handicap for older horses at 1 1/16 miles March 23. Also on the card is the $200,000 Hot Springs Stakes for 3-year-olds at one mile. … Glengarry, the 2023 Iowa-bred Horse of the Year, moved closer to his 3-year-old debut after working 5 furlongs in 1:01.80 moments after the track opened Sunday morning for co-owner/trainer Doug Anderson of Hot Springs. The track was muddy.