Barn Notes 4/26/24

Compiled by Robert Yates

The most heralded entrant in the brief history of Oaklawn’s Dig A Diamond Stakes is also the program favorite for Saturday’s $200,000 race.

Hoosier Philly, a Grade 2 winner during a dazzling 2-year-old campaign, looks to snap a four-race losing streak in the second running of the Dig A Diamond. The one-mile event for older fillies at mares drew a field of nine, including Grade 3 winner Crypto Mo and Indiana-bred standout Bluelightspecial.

Hoosier Philly was under consideration for the $1 million G1-La Troienne Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles May 3 at Churchill Downs before trainer Tom Amoss decided on a return trip to Oaklawn. Hoosier Philly launched her 4-year-old season with an even fifth-place finish in the $250,000 Matron Stakes for older fillies and mares at six furlongs March 30 at Oaklawn.

“It’s her second start of the year and it’s safe to say that we’re looking to get her back on form off of a few disappointing efforts,” Amoss said Wednesday afternoon. “So, we’re back to a preferred distance off of this one race, that sprint that we were in over there. There are two things that stand out about the race (Dig A Diamond). No. 1, there looks to be a great deal of pace in there. But the other is it seems like a really good spot for us to try and come back in. The entries were over the weekend, and we ended up shipping her over there on Monday and we’re looking forward to running.”

Hoosier Philly’s biggest career victory to date came in the $400,000 G2-Golden Rod Stakes or 2-year-old fillies in November 2022 at Churchill Downs. Hoosier Philly, a daughter of super sire Into Mischief, was unbeaten in three starts at 2, winning her races by a combined 14 ¼ lengths.

Hoosier Philly, however, has only one victory in her last eight starts, that coming in the one-mile $175,000 Monomoy Girl Overnight Stakes for 3-year-old fillies June 17 at Ellis Park. Hoosier Philly closed 2023 with a ninth-place finish in the $2 million G1-Breeders’ Cup Distaff Nov. 4 at Santa Anita. It was her first start against older horses.

After running fifth in the Matron, Hoosier Philly returned to her Churchill Downs base and recorded three bullet workouts in advance of the Dig A Diamond, the last a half-mile move on the turf April 21. Hoosier Philly has never raced on grass.

“We were exploring ideas with her, and we got the opportunity to work on the grass at Churchill, which they don’t do that often,” Amoss said. “I felt like: ‘Hell, if I don’t work on the grass today, I may not get another chance, so let’s see what we can do and how she handles it.’ So, she’s very versatile and very adaptable. Other than wanting to see if she liked the grass, I don’t think it really has much to do with anything else.”

Hoosier Philly (2-1 in the program for the Dig A Diamond) is scheduled to break from post 3 under Rafael Bejarano. Hoosier Philly sheds blinkers after wearing the equipment in her last two starts. Amoss said recent surface and equipment tweaks is an attempt to reignite Hoosier Philly’s once-promising career.

“Look, I say it all the time and it also applies to me,” Amoss said. “When you make an equipment change with blinkers like that, the trainer is usually searching. He’s trying to find an answer. He’s not happy with where he is. And that’s fair. It’s certainly true with this horse. When the year ended, we had fallen off form. When we came back this year, I just kept the blinkers on because we were shortening up in distance. But her best races are without blinkers and we’re looking forward to running that way.”

A $510,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale graduate, Hoosier Philly has a 4-1-1 record from 11 lifetime starts and earnings of $737,660. She also won the $200,000 Rags to Riches Stakes at 1 1/16 miles as a 2-year-old at Churchill Downs.

Hoosier Philly races for Gold Standard Racing, LLC (Bill Stone).

Finish Lines

Saturday is “Fan Appreciation Day,” with Oaklawn offering free programs, hot dogs, soft drinks and popcorn (while supplies last) and free parking. … Timberlake is receiving a break after finishing fourth as the favorite in the $1.5 million G1-Arkansas Derby (March 30, trainer Brad Cox said. Timberlake, in his 3-year-old debut, won the $1.25 million G2-Rebel Stakes Feb. 24. “I’m freshening him up,” Cox said. “Not sure where he’ll land.” The Rebel and Arkansas Derby were Oaklawn’s third and fourth Kentucky Derby points races, respectively. … Muth has recorded two workouts at Santa Anita since his Arkansas Derby victory for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. He covered four furlongs in 48:00 April 12, and went five furlongs Sunday, April 21 in 1:00 1/5. Muth is pointing for the Preakness, the second leg of the Triple Crown, May 18 at Pimlico