Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen Approaching Another Oaklawn Milestone
Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen Approaching Another Oaklawn Milestone
Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen collected his 798th career Oaklawn victory when favored Cairama ($6) won last Sunday’s fourth race under Isaac Castillo. The late Bob Holthus is the only trainer in Oaklawn history to reach 800 career victories.
Asmussen has 14 horses entered this week at Oaklawn, which will race Friday and Saturday and be dark Sunday in observance of Easter.
Asmussen’s six entrants Friday are: Hightailing (2-1 on the morning line) in the second race, Ottoman Empire (3-1) in the fourth race, Chakra (5-2 favorite) in the sixth race, Happymac (3-1 favorite) in the seventh race, County Final (9-2) in the eighth race and Out Dancing (5-1) in the ninth race. Asmussen’s eight entrants Saturday are: Road Bible (3-1) in the second race, Midnight Mistress (5-2 favorite) in the third race, St. Andrews (4-1) and Presidential (9-2) in the fourth race, Bank (7-2) in the sixth race, Oscarette (9-2) in the seventh race, Chileno (2-1 favorite) in the 10th race and champion Jackie’s Warrior (6-5 favorite) in the 11th race, the $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3).
Asmussen tops the 2021-2022 Oaklawn standings with 43 victories – six more than runner-up Robertino Diodoro. Asmussen is an 11-time Oaklawn training champion, capturing titles in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021. Asmussen and the late Hall of Famer Henry Forrest share the Oaklawn record for career training titles with 11.
Holthus won 867 races at Oaklawn before his death in November 2011. He won nine Oaklawn training titles.
Asmussen will be one of 14 Hall of Famers being honored Saturday as part of Hall of Fame Day. There will be an autograph signing session from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and winner’s circle presentations throughout the day.
A little over a year after her first career victory as an owner, Sara Patterson was celebrating her first career stakes victory when Punchy Girl delivered the knockout in last Saturday’s $150,000 Rainbow Miss for 3-year-old Arkansas-bred fillies at 6 furlongs.
Punchy Girl was born and raised at Cedar Run Farm, a 200-acre foaling and layup facility just west of Hot Springs that is owned by Patterson’s father, Randy. Sara Patterson, 36, is farm manager.
Punchy Girl ($11.60) also represented the first Oaklawn stakes victory for jockey Elvin Gonzalez and trainer Jason Barkley.
“First stakes win for me,” Patterson said. “I think it was the first stakes win here for Jason and the first here, maybe, I think, for Elvin. Homebred – can’t get much better than that.”
Punchy Girl is by Street Strategy, who captured the $100,000 Fifth Season Stakes for older horses in 2016 at Oaklawn for owner Randy Patterson and trainer Randy Morse. Cedar Run owns Street Strategy and millionaire Grade 1 winner Moonshine Mullin and stands both at nearby Lake Hamilton Equine Associates.
Sara Patterson foaled and named Punchy Girl, who is out of Union Boss, a winner at Gulfstream Park and Belmont Park in her 12-race career.
“Well, out in the pasture, she was always the one that was the boss,” Patterson said. “We called her boss growing up because she was the boss of the pasture. I couldn’t get ‘Boss Lady’ or anything like that, so I got ‘Punchy Girl’ because she was always the one that would beat the rest to the punch.”
Cedar Run purchased Union Boss, in foal to millionaire multiple Grade 1 winner Tourist, for $22,000 at the 2017 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale. The resulting foal, Mandona, now, 4, is winless in three lifetime starts for Randy Patterson and Morse. Mandona is entered in Friday’s third race, a $10,000 maiden-claiming sprint for fillies and mares.
“We picked out the mare at the sale and brought her home,” Sara Patterson said. “Dad took a chance on her and so far, our Street Strategy, our actual stallion that stands here, is the one that’s produced the best baby.”
Patterson said Union Boss recently had a colt by Mitole, the 2019 Eclipse Award winning sprinter and multiple Oaklawn stakes winner.
Patterson and her father, both natives of Anthony, Kan., began developing Cedar Run approximately eight years ago and concentrate on the lucrative Arkansas breeding program.
Sara Patterson recorded her first career victory as an owner when Longntall, a homebred daughter of Moonshine Mullin, broke her maiden by 12 lengths against state-breds March 21, 2021, at Oaklawn. It was Patterson’s fifth career starter. Longntall also represented her first career starter, Feb. 6, 2021, at Oaklawn.
Sara Patterson named Longntall after her close friend, Oaklawn horsemen’s bookkeeper Terri Hoffrogge, who is 5-11. Hoffrogge, coincidentally, made the trophy presentation for the Rainbow Miss. Another close friend and horsemen’s bookkeeper employee, Dusti Pletcher, also was in the infield winner’s circle following the Rainbow Miss.
“Both my best friends and very neat how it worked out,” Patterson said.
Punchy Girl has made her five career starts – all against state-breds – at the 2021-2022 Oaklawn meeting. She finished second in her Dec. 10 career debut, third Jan. 7 and second Jan. 28 before breaking her maiden Feb. 25 in her two-turn debut.
Punchy Girl cut back to a sprint in the Rainbow Miss and held off fast-closing Pattern Bet by a head to increase her career bankroll to $180,600.
Barkley said he plans to point Punchy Girl to the $150,000 Natural State Breeders’ Stakes May 6. The 1-mile race is for state-bred females, 3 and upward.
“I think that’s the plan,” Barkley said. “If nothing else, it kind of gives us a gauge as where we’ll be next year. She’ll get the summer off and we’ll bring her back. She’s already proven at the route distance, so I think that’s a little edge we’ll have over some of the others that might be stretching out in there.”
Patterson entered Friday with four victories from 25 starts and purse earnings of $247,156 in her career, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.
In addition to Longntall and two victories by Punchy Girl, Patterson had another winner at the 2021-2022 Oaklawn meeting in Smokin Boots, a homebred Moonshine Mullin gelding who broke his maiden against state-breds Jan. 30 for trainer Joe Petalino.
Longntall and Smokin Boots are full siblings.
There is no racing Sunday in observance of Easter. Abbreviated training hours Sunday are 7 a.m.-9 a.m. (Central). … Post positions will be drawn Monday for three April 23 stakes – $1 million Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles, $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses at 1 1/8 miles and the $150,000 Oaklawn for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles. The winner of the Oaklawn Stakes, if Triple Crown eligible, will receive automatic entry into the Preakness. … Trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs enters the two-day race week with 296 career Oaklawn victories. … Moquett said he’s in no rush with Arrogates Spirit, who was close to a race earlier this year before a setback delayed his career debut. Arrogates Spirit is a 3-year-old by deceased champion Arrogate and a half-brother to Moquett’s 2020 champion male sprinter Whitmore. “We had to stop and take it easy on him because he started growing a lot, putting on body mass, and a lot of Arrogates are that way,” Moquett said. “So, whenever he started putting on that body mass, we noticed changes going on and we decided to go slow.”