Oaklawn Barn Notes: Barber Road’s Journey to the Oaklawn Handicap Begins Saturday

Oaklawn Barn Notes by Robert Yates

Contact: Jennifer Hoyt, jhoyt@oaklawn.com or

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Friday, December 16, 2022

Photo Credit: Coady Photography

Barber Road’s Journey to the Oaklawn Handicap Begins Saturday

Multiple graded stakes-placed Barber Road is scheduled to make his first start since early June, and first against older horses, in Saturday’s eighth race at Oaklawn for trainer John Ortiz and owner William Simon (WSS Racing). The $104,000 conditioned allowance is for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles.

Eight-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. is named to ride Barber Road, the 4-5 program favorite, from the rail in the projected 10-horse field. Probable post time is 3:46 p.m. (Central).

Barber Road hasn’t started since finishing seventh in the Belmont Stakes, the final leg of the Triple Crown, June 11 at Belmont Park. Although he has bankrolled $685,720 in his career, Barber Road is looking to snap a seven-race losing streak. He has four runner-up finishes during that span, including the $1.25 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at 1 1/8 miles last April at Oaklawn. Barber Road’s major objective during the 2022-2023 Oaklawn meeting is the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses at 1 1/8 miles April 22.

“We’re definitely looking at the stakes here, but we’ve got to make the smart decision for the horse,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz had circled Dec. 17 for Barber Road’s comeback and chose the allowance race over the $200,000 Tinsel Stakes at Oaklawn. The 1 1/8-mile Tinsel will be run approximately 30 minutes after the allowance race.

“The horse is a little bit short to go a mile and an eighth,” Ortiz said. “I think it’s definitely a softer spot, the allowance.”

Following a lengthy break from racing, Barber Road resumed training around Labor Day and has eight published workouts – five at The Thoroughbred Center in Kentucky and three at Oaklawn – since Oct. 9 for his comeback. Ortiz said Barber Road flourished physically during his vacation, gaining approximately 200 pounds. He will run on Lasix for the first time Saturday. Barber Road will not wear blinkers, equipment he’s worn throughout most of his career and trained in this season at Oaklawn.

Ortiz said he would like to see Barber Road more forwardly placed early Saturday. The gray son of 2015 Oaklawn Handicap winner Race Day was farther back than expected, Ortiz said, in some of his races earlier this year.

“Obviously, he’s going to be a little bit fresher,” Ortiz said. “I don’t expect him to be in the front or anything like that, but I do want a good break and be a little bit part of the race, like he was in the early stages of his career. Obviously, we’ve got Ricardo back and he knows the horse.”

Santana, an eight-time Oaklawn riding champion, was aboard Barber Road for his second-place finish in the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles last January at Oaklawn. Barber Road was among only three horses to go through Oaklawn’s four-race Kentucky Derby points series in 2022. In addition to the Southwest and Arkansas Derby, Barber Road finished second in the $250,000 Smarty Jones Stakes at 1 mile and third in the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) at 1 1/16 miles. Barber Road finished a closing sixth, beaten 4 ¾ lengths, in the Kentucky Derby.

Saturday’s race will be the first non-stake for Barber Road since whipping starter-allowance company Nov. 10, 2021, at Churchill Downs. It was also his last victory.

“Again, we’re just looking for the best opportunity to give this horse some confidence,” Ortiz said.

Barber Road has a 2-4-1 record from 10 lifetime starts.

Flash of Mischief, winning the Ring the Bell Stakes

Broberg’s Better Start

Trainer Karl Broberg was Oaklawn’s co-fourth leading trainer last season with 27 victories. To get there, Broberg said on the eve of the 2022-2023 Oaklawn meeting, he had plenty of catching up to do.

“We started the meet 3 for 45,” Broberg said. “We won’t be starting it 3 for 45 this year.”

So far, so good for Broberg’s preseason prognostication. Among the winningest trainers in North American history, Broberg was 2 for 8 through the first three racing days at Oaklawn. One of those victories, Flash of Mischief in last Saturday’s $150,000 Ring the Bell Stakes, marked the biggest to date in Hot Springs for Broberg.

“We think we are set up for a slightly better meet,” said Broberg, who has 38 stalls at Oaklawn after starting 150 horses last season in Hot Springs. “And with any claiming operation, a lot of it’s going to depend on getting lucky on getting the right horses in the claim box. Hoping to improve on what we did last year.”

Broberg notched his first career victory at Oaklawn in 2011 and entered the 2022-2023 meeting with 137 overall. He was Oaklawn’s third-leading trainer in 2019 with 33 victories, helping M and M Racing (Mike and Mickala Sisk) establish single-season Oaklawn records by an owner for victories (61) and purse earnings ($1,782,351).

Flash of Mischief was Broberg’s second career Oaklawn stakes victory. He also won the restricted $100,000 Downthedustyroad Breeders’ in 2019 with Usual Suspect.

Flash of Mischief earned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 103 for his Ring the Bell victory, just off his career-high 104 for a 6 ¼-length romp in the $150,000 David M. Vance Stakes Sept. 25 at Remington Park. Flash of Mischief won the Ring the Bell by 7 ¾ lengths. Both races were 6 furlongs.

Broberg said the major Oaklawn objective for Flash of Mischief is the $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) for older horses at 6 furlongs April 15. The $150,000 King Cotton Stakes Jan. 28 and $200,000 Whitmore Stakes (G3) March 18 are the final major local preps for the Count Fleet. Broberg, who races extensively during the winter in Louisiana, said he plans to keep Flash of Mischief at Oaklawn under the care of assistant trainer Kevin Martin.

“As long as he comes out the way he generally does, that’s 100 percent the plan,” Broberg said, referring to the King Cotton. “I’m aware of the fact that each one of these sprints gets tougher as the meet goes on.”

Flash of Mischief, who races for his breeder, Texan Jerry Namy, has won 9 of 23 career starts and earned $774,901. A 4-year-old son of super sire Into Mischief, Flash of Mischief was exiting a ninth-place finish in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) Nov. 5 at Keeneland. Broberg said Flash of Mischief’s long-term goal is the 2023 Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Broberg has more than 4,500 career victories. He has eight horses entered this weekend at Oaklawn. Namy also campaigned millionaire multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Don’t Tell Sophia in partnership with trainer Phil Sims.

Finish Lines

There are 10 races Saturday, including the $200,000 Tinsel Stakes and $150,000 Poinsettia Stakes. First post is 12:30 p.m. (Central). … Keystone Field, winner of the $199,875 Claiming Crown Jewel at 1 1/8 miles Nov. 12 at Churchill Downs for trainer Mike Maker, finished second, beaten a neck, in a 1 1/16-mile allowance Dec. 11 at Oaklawn. The Jewel was the richest of eight starter-allowance races during last month’s annual Claiming Crown Championship Series, which matches the country’s top claiming horses. … Jockey Isaac Castillo entered Friday with 23 victories over the last 16 racing days at Oaklawn. He debuted at Oaklawn last April. … Stanley Roberts, the semi-retired/retired owner/trainer from Forrest City, Ark., finished second with Mo Wanna Go in the Dec. 9 nightcap at Oaklawn. It marked the first starter for Roberts (as a trainer) since April 19, 2020, at Oaklawn. Roberts’ Oaklawn stable at the last two meetings was run by his daughter, trainer Sherry Rhea. Roberts has 957 career training victories, including 193 at Oaklawn. … “Oaklawn Raceday,” featuring David Longinotti, director of Oaklawn Anywhere, and Equibase representative Jeff Taylor, can be heard Saturdays 11 a.m.-11:30 a.m. (Central) during the 2022-2023 meeting on Little Rock, Ark., radio station KABZ-FM 103.7 and www.1037thebuzz.com. Trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs is this week’s special guest.