Keepmeinmind Keeping His Options Open

Keepmeinmind Keeping His Options Open

Keepmeinmind’s final workout for his 3-year-old debut is scheduled for Monday at Oaklawn. Whether that breeze is for a stakes race at Oaklawn or Fair Grounds hasn’t been decided the colt’s trainer, Robertino Diodoro, said Sunday morning.

Keepmeinmind is entered in the $400,000 Risen Star (G2) at 1 1/8 miles Saturday at Fair Grounds, but remains under consideration for the $750,000 Southwest (G3) Feb. 15. Post positions for the 1 1/16-mile Southwest, Oaklawn’s second of four Kentucky Derby points races, will be drawn Thursday.

“There’s a couple of variables,” Diodoro said. “I think we’re going to wait and see the next 72 hours.”

Diodoro said the potential of bad weather and a compact Southwest field make the Risen Star an option for Keepmeinmind, a late-running son of Loaban who has been based at Oaklawn since late December. Keepmeinmind hasn’t started since breaking his maiden in the $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) Nov. 28 at Churchill Downs.

“The short field here is a little bit of a concern with his running style,” said Diodoro, Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 2020. “If you’ve got a speed horse, like a couple of guys do in the race, perfect having five, six horses. But when you have a come from behinder, that’s not the most ideal thing.”

Diodoro said he plans to breeze Keepmeinmind at 10 a.m. (Central), following Monday's second surface renovation break. Keepmeinmind has had five published works this season at Oaklawn, including a 5-furlong bullet move (:59) after the second break last Tuesday under regular rider David Cohen.

“Just a little quieter out there,” Diodoro said, referring to the late time.

The Southwest will offer 17 points (10-4-2-1, respectively) toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby. The Risen Star is an 85-point race (50-20-10-5). Keepmeinmind drew post 12 for the Risen Star, which has 13 entrants. Cohen, Oaklawn’s champion jockey in 2019, is named to ride.

“Just take a look,” Diodoro said. “We’ll make a decision here in a day or two.”

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.

Diodoro said Kentucky’s famed Spendthrift Farm recently purchased a minority interest in Keepmeinmind and will stand the colt upon retirement. His other owners remain Cypress Creek Equine and Arnold Bennewith, Diodoro said.

Unbeaten Eclipse Award winner Essential Quality 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.

Asmussen Does it Again

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen saddled two more winners Saturday at Oaklawn, stretching his streak with at least one local victory to 10 racing days.

Asmussen won the fifth race with Golden Tiger ($10.20) and the eighth race, the $150,000 King Cotton Stakes for older sprinters, with Boldor ($21.60).

Boldor represented the meet-best 15th victory for Asmussen, whose winning streak began on the final day of the 2020 meeting. Saturday marked Day 9 of the scheduled 57-day meeting. During that span, Asmussen had 18 winners.

Dating to April 19, 2020, Asmussen’s only winless day at Oaklawn was May 1 – penultimate day of the season – and he had amassed 25 victories over those 17 racing days. Dating to April 11, 2020, Asmussen’s only other winless day at Oaklawn was April 18. He had 30 victories over those 21 racing days.

Asmussen had two horses entered Sunday at Oaklawn – Mighty Mischief in the seventh race and Do Me a Favor in the ninth race. Do Me a Favor was scratched.

Boldor represented Asmussen’s 711th career Oaklawn victory and record 91st career local stakes victory. Asmussen became only the second trainer in history to reach 700 victories at Oaklawn when he recorded a triple Jan. 23. The late Bob Holthus, a nine-time Oaklawn training champion, won more than 850 races in Hot Springs.

Asmussen is seeking his record-tying 11th Oaklawn training title after winning the crown in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Finish Lines

Jockey Jon Court recorded his 691st career Oaklawn victory aboard Parkin in the Rear ($14.20) for trainer Tommy Vance of Hot Springs in Saturday’s third race. Court, 60, was Oaklawn’s leading rider in 2000. … Boldor received a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 100 for his one-length victory in the $150,000 King Cotton Stakes for older sprinters Saturday at Oaklawn. The King Cotton is the first major local prep for the $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 10. … Recent arrival Dreamer’s Disease probably will return to the work tab this week, trainer Robertino Diodoro said, adding there’s no specific target for the colt’s 3-year-old debut. Dreamer’s Disease finished sixth in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) Nov. 6 at Keeneland. … Heated Argument, an unstarted 3-year-old half-sister to multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Ministry, was a 3 ¾-length winner of Saturday’s ninth race at Oaklawn, an Arkansas-bred maiden special weights sprint. Heated Argument is by millionaire Tapiture, winner of the $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) in 2014 at Oaklawn. Like Ministry, winner of Oaklawn’s $100,000 Rainbow Miss Stakes in 2017 and $100,000 Downthedustyroad Stakes in 2018, Heated Argument is campaigned by trainer Jaime Gonzalez and her breeder, Linda Robbins of Hot Springs. Heated Argument ($76) represented the third winner at the meet for 7-pound apprentice jockey Joshua Morales. … Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen won a six-way shake, or blind draw, to claim Exulting out of Saturday’s second race for $10,000. Exulting, then with trainer Mike Maker and owner Michael Hui of Little Rock, Ark., won the inaugural $250,000 Oaklawn Mile for older horses in 2019 at Oaklawn. … Through Saturday, Day 9 of the scheduled 57-day Oaklawn meeting, 94 claims had totaled $1,769,500. … Brad Cox, Oaklawn’s third-leading trainer last year, entered Sunday with 1,499 career North American victories, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Cox had one scheduled starter Sunday at Oaklawn, where he had eight victories through Saturday to rank second in the standings. Cox entered Sunday with 213 career victories at Oaklawn.