Barn Notes 5/4/24

Compiled by Robert Yates

Hot Springs native Staton Flurry can now relax.

Flurry, in essentially wire-to-wire fashion, clinched his first career owner’s title after his closest pursuer, Steve Asmussen, was winless in two starts Friday at Oaklawn.

“Feels like a million pounds have been lifted off,” Flurry said.

Flurry entered Friday, Day 62 of Oaklawn’s weather-shortened 64-day meeting, with a comfortable 26-19 advantage over Asmussen after winning five races last weekend. Asmussen had eight horses entered over the final three days of the meeting, but he was eliminated from title contention after Cibolo ran eighth in the second race and Perceptive finished second in the fifth race. Rifey, Flurry’s only starter Friday, finished second in the second race.

Flurry, 33, called winning an owner’s title at Oaklawn a bucket-list item since he was raised in the historic Trivista neighborhood that borders the track’s north parking lot. He made 2023-2024 a priority – winning races with seven trainers – after finishing fourth in last season’s Oaklawn standings with 10 victories from 61 starts.

The push, Flurry said, made his life even more hectic. Flurry’s family owns several parking lots around Oaklawn that fans and horsemen use during live season. He also co-owns Trifecta Motorsports, a dirt midget car racing team based in Tulsa, Okla., and manages numerous rental properties around Hot Springs with his mother, Dorothy.

“I just want to detox for a little bit,” Staton Flurry said. “That’s the term I’m using. I’ve put my heart and soul into this for the last six months. Between the parking lots and everything, the rent houses – other than Christmas and maybe like two other weeks of the year – I’ve gone seven days a week and I’m tired. I’m really tired.”

Flurry’s 26 victories are the most for an owner at Oaklawn since M and M Racing (Mike and Mickala Sisk) set a single-season record (61) in 2019. In addition to victories, Flurry entered Saturday with single-season Oaklawn bests for starts (78) and purse earnings ($782,023).

Flurry has led or shared the lead since Dec. 15, Day 3 of the meeting. Asmussen tied Flurry (18-18) with a victory in the first race April 6. Flurry regained the lead for good, 19-18, with a victory in the following race and all but clinched the title last weekend. Flurry has four horses entered Saturday, his final scheduled starters of the 2023-2024 Oaklawn meeting that ends Sunday.

Flurry recorded his first career victory Feb. 17, 2013, at Oaklawn with the Brad Cox-trained Full Steam Ahead. Flurry is best known for campaigning millionaire multiple Grade 1 winner Shedaresthedevil, also trained by Cox, in partnership.

Asmussen Moves Closer

Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen inched closer to setting a single-season Oaklawn record for training victories Friday.

Asmussen recorded his 68th victory over the meeting in the third race, a $115,000 maiden special weight sprint for fillies and mares, with Lemonesse ($17.40).

Asmussen’s total is the second-highest single-season mark in Oaklawn history. The late Cole Norman won an Oaklawn-record 71 in 2003. Friday was Day 62 of Oaklawn’s weather-shortened 64-day meeting.

Asmussen has 25 horses entered over the final two days of racing. One of his entrants, Skelly, will be heavily favored in Saturday’s $200,000 Lake Hamilton Stakes for older sprinters.

Lemonesse, who was making her career debut, was a three-quarter length winner under apprentice jockey Erik Asmussen, 21, Steve Asmussen’s youngest son. A 3-year-old daughter of super sire Gun Runner, Lemonesse is a homebred for Winchell Thoroughbreds (Ron and Joan Winchell).

Oaklawn’s 2023-2024 meeting ends Sunday.