Barn Notes 4/27/24

Compiled by Robert Yates

Owner Staton Flurry can see the finish line.

Flurry’s scattered operation collected two victories Friday and two more Saturday at Oaklawn (through Race 3) to extend his lead over Steve Asmussen to 25-18 with four days remaining in the 2023-2024 meeting.

Flurry won Friday’s first race with favored Beachgrass ($3.80) and the 10th and final race with favored Twenty to Park ($4.40). Beachgrass, who won the $10,000 claiming event by a neck under Cristian Torres, represented a two-race swing in the standings since Asmussen saddled the runner-up, It’sfiftyshadetime.

Flurry also captured Saturday’s opener with Must Be Love ($8.60) and third race with Theresasilverlinin. Both runners were trained by Dan Ward.

“That was like two wins, almost,” Flurry said following Friday’s 10th race. “Hopefully, we can knock a few more out this weekend and see what happens. Steve’s got the numbers. Just, hopefully, we can space it out a little bit more and see what happens.”

Flurry, 33, has never won an owner’s title. He calls winning one at Oaklawn, his home track, a bucket-list item since he was raised in the historic Trivista neighborhood that borders the track’s north parking lot.

Flurry recorded his first career victory Feb. 17, 2013, at Oaklawn with the Brad Cox-trained Full Steam Ahead.

The four wins Friday and Saturday (through the third race) pushed his career Oaklawn total to 62.

Flurry’s 25 Oaklawn victories, through Saturday’s third race, had come with seven trainers – Jonas B. Gibson (six), Cipriano Contreras (five), Kevin Martin (four), Cox (three), Matt Shirer (two), Dan Ward (four) and Asmussen (one).

Flurry said he entered Saturday with 14 horses “focused for here.”

“I think everybody’s tired of me stressing over this,” said Flurry, the meet’s leading owner for most of the season. “The last few weeks, I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself because early on we had an eight, nine-win lead. I mean, it dwindled down to where we were tied at one point. So, I’ve spent a lot of time, a lot of money and a lot of effort trying to get to this point and I don’t want to lose it at the end. That’s what scares me. I don’t want to essentially lead every lap of the Daytona 500 and get nipped at the wire.”

In addition to victories, Flurry also entered Saturday with career Oaklawn bests for starts (71) and purse earnings ($709,714). Aggressive at the claim box and entry box, at times dropping horses in class in his title chase, Flurry had a robust 32-percent strike rate through Friday.

Flurry tied for fourth in last year’s Oaklawn standings with 10 victories from 61 starts. Through the first 38 days of racing, Flurry generated only three victories from 35 starts. That late-season momentum has snowballed in 2023-2024.

“Never really competed for an owner’s title, except last year,” Flurry said. “We just got rolling too late last year.”

Flurry is best known for campaigning millionaire multiple Grade 1 winner Shedaresthedevil in partnership.

Chasing a Record

Connie K will become the leading accredited Arkansas-bred female money winner in history with a victory in Sunday’s seventh race, a $140,000 open allowance at six furlongs.

The Mary Rose, now retired, earned a record $539,894 from 21 lifetime starts in 2019-2022. Connie K has earned $502,195. Connie K is the 3-1 program favorite in the 12-horse field. A 6-year-old daughter of Street Strategy, Connie K races for her breeders, trainer Randy Morse and Randy Patterson. Connie K returns to allowance company after finishing third, beaten a length, in the $150,000 Downthedustyroad Stakes for female state-bred sprinters March 2 at Oaklawn.

Connie K has a 4-4-2 record from 14 lifetime starts at Oaklawn and earnings of $430,070, highlighted by a victory in the 2022 Downthedustyroad. Connie K has won 6 of 21 starts overall.

The Mary Rose was a multiple Oaklawn stakes winner for breeder/owner John Ed Anthony’s Shortleaf Stable. Anthony is the winningest owner in Oaklawn history.

Probable post time for the seventh race is 3:54 p.m. (Central).

Finish Lines

Favored Trident Hit ($6.40) gave trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs his 990th career North American Thoroughbred victory in Friday’s eighth race.