For Immediate Release

Contact: Jennifer Hoyt, Director of Racing

jhoyt@oaklawn.com or 501-363-4305

Eyeing Clover schooling in the infield

Photo credit: Coady Photography


HOT SPRINGS, AR (Friday, March 31, 2023) – Eyeing Clover and Carmel Road are scheduled to meet again in the inaugural $200,000 Hot Springs Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 mile Saturday at Oaklawn.

Probable post time for the Hot Springs, which goes as the eighth of 13 races, is 4:19 p.m. (Central). Racing begins at 12:30 p.m.

Eyeing Clover and Carmel Road both exit the $300,000 Gotham Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds at 1 mile over a sloppy surface March 4 at Aqueduct.

Carmel Road returns to Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert after finishing a leg-weary eighth, beaten 18 ½ lengths after chasing a fast early pace.

Eyeing Clover was also forwardly placed early in the Gotham, but hung around longer and finished fourth, beaten nine lengths in his stakes debut. Eyeing Clover, who removes blinkers, will be making his two-turn debut for trainer Brad Cox after gate-to-wire victories in his Dec. 31 career debut at Oaklawn and a first-level allowance Jan. 28 at Fair Grounds. Both races were 6 furlongs.

“Just trying to get him to stretch,” said Cox, who trains the Hot Springs program favorite for Ten Strike Racing. “I don’t really know what to make of his last race. It was obviously on a very, very wet track. He was up close. There was a loose horse in the race. It was a huge field. He was close. I thought he did a good bit of running, considering he was as close to the pace. He was the only horse that was close to the hot pace that stayed on. He got something out of it. He’s trained well since. Blinkers obviously coming off in an attempt to get him relax. We’ll see if he does it.”

Carmel Road broke his maiden at 1 mile last August at Del Mar before testing some of the country’s top 2-year-olds, including future Eclipse Award winner Forte and Practical Move, in graded stakes company. Carmel Road was under the care of trainer Tim Yakteen for the Gotham, which marked the colt’s 3-year-old debut.

“I think this is a good spot for him,” Baffert said. “He ran well in the Los Alamitos Futurity. He ran all the way and just got caught by probably the best horse in California (Practical Move). They sent him to New York and it was just too much for him. I don’t know what happened there. But he’s been doing well. The distance is probably good for him.”

The projected seven-horse Hot Springs field from the rail out: Powerful, Tyler Gaffalione to ride, 119 pounds, 12-1 on the morning line; Eyeing Clover, Florent Geroux, 117, 5-2; Gun Pilot, Ricardo Santana Jr., 119, 7-2; Cactus, Rafael Bejarano, 117, 8-1; Frosted Departure, Flavien Prat, 122, 9-2; Carmel Road, John Velazquez, 117, 3-1; and Rocking Rocket, Reylu Gutierrez, 117, 12-1.

Gun Pilot, Frosted Departure and Powerful finished seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively, in the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) at 1 1/16 miles Feb. 25. The Rebel was Oaklawn’s third Kentucky Derby points race.

Cactus will be making his two-turn and stakes debut for trainer Randy Morse after winning his first two career starts at the Oaklawn meeting.