Oaklawn Stakes Advance - Advent

Compiled by Robert Yates

For Immediate Release


A full field of 12, including 2-1 program favorite Valentine Candy (#10), is entered in the $150,000 Advent Stakes for 2-year-old sprinters Friday at Oaklawn.

Probable post time for the 5 1/2-furlong Advent, the ninth of 10 races on Oaklawn’s opening-day card, is 4:14 p.m. (Central). The first race is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.

The Advent field: Spirit’s Mischief (#1), Gerardo Corrales to ride, 117 pounds, 5-1 on the morning line; Frost Free (#2), Chel-c Bailey, 117, 30-1; Market Street (#3) , Cristian Torres, 117, 20-1; Molly’s Town (#4), Emmanuel Esquivel, 121, 3-1; Ceepeegee (#5), Rafael Bejarano, 117, 20-1; Sweet Soddy J (#6), Martin Chuan, 119, 9-2; Andy’s Candy (#7), Chris Landeros, 117, 12-1; Drewmania (#8), Jon Court, 117, 30-1; General Shipman (#9), Francisco Arrieta, 121, 20-1; Valentine Candy (#10), Ramon Vazquez, 117, 2-1; Bye Bye Liam (#11), Keith Asmussen, 117, 10-1; and Willy D’s (#12), Nik Juarez, 117, 30-1.

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen will start Valentine Candy and Bye Bye Liam in search of a record-extending 105th career Oaklawn stakes victory. The Advent debuted in 2021 and will be the first stakes race run since Oaklawn renovated its racing surface in the offseason.

“Obviously, next step for these 2-year-olds, coming from different areas and meeting in the middle,” Asmussen said. “It looks like a very competitive race. It will be interesting to see how the racetrack’s playing. It seems considerably different training over it right now than the racetrack when we left last spring. So, obviously, curious to see who handles it and who doesn’t.”

Valentine Candy was a gate-to-wire winner of his July 22 debut at Saratoga and exits a third-place finish in the $200,000 Bowman Mill Stakes Oct. 28 at Keeneland. Bye Bye Liam came from off the pace to break his maiden Oct. 29 at Churchill Downs in his last start. All three races were 6 furlongs.

Valentine Candy also finished ninth in the seven-furlong $300,000 G1-Hopeful Stakes at seven furlongs Sept. 4 at Saratoga.

“On his best day, he’s very fast away from there,” said Asmussen, who trains Valentine Candy for a partnership that includes longtime clients William and Corinne Heiligbrodt. “He had a little bit of traffic early in his last spot. Put him in what I thought was a compromising situation. But on his best day, he’s very fast away from there and then Bye Bye Liam, obviously, is a closing sprinter.”

Supplemental nominee Molly’s Town dominated Indiana-breds in his first four career starts at Horseshoe Indianapolis for owner/trainer Genaro Garcia. Molly’s Town then tested open company and ran fourth in the $225,000 Ed Brown Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs Nov. 25 at Churchill Downs.

Sweet Soddy J won the Timonium Juvenile for trainer Raymond Ginter Jr. Prairie Meadows Freshman winner General Shipman removes blinkers for trainer Casey Schleis. Ellis Park debut winner Market Street cuts back to a sprint after four consecutive poor route efforts for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

“That horse hasn’t been finishing very well,” Lukas said. “I’m either doing a poor job or he’s got me fooled. He hasn’t been finishing, so the 5 1/2 appealed to me.”