Keepmeinmind Fires Bullet in Preparation for Southwest Stakes

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Keepmeinmind Fires Bullet in Preparation for Southwest Stakes

Keepmeinmind is coming into the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 15 at Oaklawn firing bullets. The stakes winner did it again Tuesday morning, completing major preparations for the Southwest with a swift 5-furlong workout under regular rider David Cohen.

Keepmeinmind was timed in :59 – fastest of 17 works published at the distance – and, following a final quarter-mile in a sharp :22.80, galloped out 6 furlongs in 1:11.80, 7 furlongs in 1:25.40 and a mile in 1:40.40, according to the clockers. Keepmeinmind worked over a fast track following the second break to renovate the racing surface.

It marked Keepmeinmind’s fifth published workout this season at Oaklawn and second to receive a bullet designation (fastest of the day at the distance), following a 5-furlong move in 1:00 Jan. 19. A late-running son of Laoban, Keepmeinmind closed his 2-year-old campaign with a last-to-first maiden-breaking victory in the $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) Nov. 28 at Churchill Downs.

“Did it the right way again,” said Robertino Diodoro, Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 2020. “I love that his works have been very consistent. Again, I always say take each day at a time, but his works have been very consistent – consistently good – since he’s been here.”

Diodoro said he plans to come back with an easy half-mile work and a “couple of stiff gallops” next week leading up to the Southwest, Oaklawn’s second of four Kentucky Derby points races.

“I’d like it to be Tuesday,” Diodoro said of the maintenance breeze. “But it could be adjusted by a day or two because it looks like a little bit of (weather).”

The 1 1/16-mile Southwest will offer 17 points (10-4-2-1, respectively) to the top four finishers toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby. Post positions will be drawn Feb. 11. Prior to the Kentucky Jockey Club, Keepmeinmind finished second in the $400,000 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) Oct. 3 at Keeneland and third in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) Nov. 6 at Keeneland.

Unbeaten Essential Quality also is scheduled to make his 3-year-old debut in the Southwest, trainer Brad Cox said. Essential Quality (3 for 3) was the country’s champion 2-year-old male after winning the Breeders’ Futurity and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Essential Quality has been based this winter at Fair Grounds.

Essential Quality (30) and Keepmeinmind (18) rank 1-2 on the Kentucky Derby points leaderboard, according to Churchill Downs.

Shedaresthedevil Returns to Work Tab

Kentucky Oaks winner Shedaresthedevil returned to the work tab Monday morning at Oaklawn, covering 3 furlongs in :36.60 in preparation for her 2021 debut, possibly the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) for older fillies and mares March 13.

Shedaresthedevil, under exercise rider Fernando Espinoza, breezed on a fast track following the first break to renovate the racing surface for newly minted Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox and co-owner Staton Flurry of Hot Springs. Clockers had the 4-year-old daughter of Daredevil galloping out a half-mile in :49.80.

“Really, really good,” Cox said after watching the work. “We were just looking for like :38, and she honestly looked like she was going :38. Just well within herself. Just nice and easy. We’re not going to get in a big hurry with her, just kind of pick it up a little bit each week. Couldn’t have asked for a better first work back.”

Shedaresthedevil was a finalist for an Eclipse Award as the country’s champion 3-year-old filly of 2020 after winning four races, including Oaklawn’s $300,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) and the $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) Sept. 4 at Churchill Downs, Shedaresthedevil hasn’t started since finishing third in the $400,000 Spinster Stakes (G1) Oct. 4 at Keeneland, her first start against older horses.

Following the Spinster, Shedaresthedevil received a 60-day break, Flurry said, before resuming light training in mid-December in Kentucky. She arrived at Oaklawn Jan. 9. Cox said the 1 1/16-mile Azeri, Oaklawn’s final major prep for the $1 million Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 17, is a potential landing spot for Shedaresthedevil’s 2021 debut.

“It’s going to get close there,” Cox said. “We’re just going to have to kind of really watch her and let her tell us if she’s ready for that, but that would be the first logical target.”

Cox already has won Oaklawn’s first of three Apple Blossom preps and is scheduled to have the heavy favorite in the second.

Getridofwhatailesu – in her stakes debut – was a 1 ½-length winner of the $150,000 Pippin at 1 mile Jan. 23. It marked the third victory in the last four starts for Getridofwhatailesu, who hadn’t raced since winning an allowance route last March at Oaklawn. Cox said Getridofwhatailesu was subsequently diagnosed with “lameness that didn’t require surgery” and sent to Custom Care Equine in South Carolina to recover.

“They did a fantastic job,” Cox said. “She came back to us and when we started breezing her she appeared to be the same horse she was last year. We had a lot of high hopes for her last year. We thought she was a graded-stakes filly. It wasn’t ideal, probably, to bring her back in that stake off the layoff, but just based off the condition book, with what she’s eligible for, there’s not a lot of options. We were kind of forced into the race and it worked out well.”

Cox said Getridofwhatailesu is being pointed for the Azeri.

Monomoy Girl, Cox’s dual Eclipse Award winner, is scheduled to make her 2021 debut in the $250,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) Feb. 15 at Oaklawn. Monomoy Girl has won 13 of 15 career starts, including the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) Nov. 7 at Keeneland to conclude a perfect 2020 campaign (4 for 4) and clinch an Eclipse Award as the country’s champion older dirt female. Monomoy Girl won the 2018 Kentucky Oaks en route to champion 3-year-old filly honors.

Snapper Time

Millionaire Snapper Sinclair is scheduled to make his 2021 debut in Thursday’s seventh race at Oaklawn, a 1-mile allowance for older horses.

Snapper Sinclair hasn’t started since finishing second in the $250,000 Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) Dec. 5 at Aqueduct for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and owner Jeff Bloom, who also campaigned champion and multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Midnight Bisou.

Snapper Sinclair has only won five times in a 29-race career, but the 6-year-old son of City Zip has bankrolled $1,438,260. The horse has several near misses on his stakes-heavy resume, including runner-up finishes in the $750,000 Tourist Mile (beaten three-quarters of a length) Sept. 7 at Kentucky Downs, the first division of the $100,000 Fifth Season Stakes (beaten a neck) last year at Oaklawn and the $350,000 Essex Handicap (beaten a head) in 2019 at Oaklawn. Snapper Sinclair also was beaten a nose in the $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds in 2018 at Fair Grounds.

Snapper Sinclair recorded his biggest career victory to date in the 2019 Tourist Mile over Kentucky Downs’ European-style turf course. Bloom said “a little bit of everything” has kept Snapper Sinclair in training. The flashy bay has been based at Oaklawn since mid-December.

“He’s healthy, he’s sound,” Bloom said. “I feel like we’re just inches away from a viable stallion career. He finished second in the Grade 1 Cigar. If he wins that race, it’s a game changer for him. He’s just such a fun horse to have and we like to race a lot. To be able to race with a horse as honest as Snapper Sinclair, it’s part of why you keep coming back for more with this kind of thing. Snapper will always be one of my all-time favorite horses. He’s a barn favorite for Steve and his crew. At the end of the day, it comes down to as long as Snapper wants to continue doing what he does and he stays sound and healthy, then so be it. Let’s do it.”

Snapper Sinclair was an allowance winner at the 2019 Oaklawn meeting. He has had only two starts in allowance company since the summer of 2019, the last a third-place finish in a 1-mile grass event Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs. Seven-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. is named to ride Snapper Sinclair, the 6-5 program favorite, Thursday. The race also attracted Grade 3 winner Plainsman, the early 5-2 second choice.

“In talking to Steve about it, it’s kind of like Snapper sort of deserves a spot like this to kind of kick things off,” Bloom said. “He’s shown up to every tough spot out there over the course of his career … none of these races are gimmies, but it’s softer competition and, hopefully, we get that win for him. He’s always knocking on the door. It would be nice to get him another confidence booster, get him a win, walk him into the winner’s circle and then start planning his course of action following this spot.”

Probable post time for Thursday’s seventh race is 4:09 p.m. (Central).

Finish Lines

Joe Talamo (Oaklawn Covid-19 protocols) is scheduled to resume riding Thursday. He was Oaklawn’s co-second-leading jockey last year. … Oaklawn stakes winners Ring Leader and Bye Bye J are entered in Thursday’s eighth race, an allowance sprint for older females. … Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen has at least one victory the last seven racing days at Oaklawn, dating to the final day of the 2020 meet. Asmussen has 14 victories during that span, including a meet-best 11 this year. … Brad Cox, Oaklawn’s second-leading trainer this year, entered Wednesday with 1,495 career North American victories, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Cox has 213 career victories at Oaklawn, including eight this year. … Cox said unbeaten Goin’ Good (2 for 2) is pointing for the $150,000 Dixie Belle Stakes for 3-year-old filly sprinters Feb. 13 at Oaklawn. … First post Sunday is 12:30 p.m. (Central).