Ozark Stakes - 1st Running

Compiled by Robert Yates

Contact: Chris Ho, Vice President of Marketing, cho@oaklawn.com, 501-623-4411 ext. 4201

Saturday, February 10, 2024

VALENTINE CANDY - Photo Credit: Coady Media

HOT SPRINGS, AR – Under a stalking trip from jockey Ricardo Santana Jr., Valentine Candy powered to another stakes victory in the inaugural $150,000 Ozark for 3-year-old sprinters Saturday at Oaklawn.

Valentine Candy ($5) posted a 2 ½-length score over 6-5 favorite Time for Truth, with Vitement another 1 ½ lengths farther back in third.

A son of 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify, Valentine Candy became the meet’s first three-time stakes winner. He also won the $150,000 Advent Dec. 8 and $150,000 Renaissance Dec. 31.

Valentine Candy came from just off the pace in the Ozark, which was run over a muddy, sealed surface. Valentine Candy trailed Time for Truth by about a length turning for home, then surged past the favorite on the outside in midstretch. The winning time was 1:10.32.

Valentine Candy marked the third victory on the card for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and his record-extending 109th career Oaklawn stakes victory, 904th overall at the Hot Springs oval.

Valentine Candy, who races for a partnership that includes Texans William & Corinne Heiligbrodt and Jackpot Farm (Terry Green), won for the fourth time in seven lifetime starts to raise his earnings to $351,675.

A $250,000 yearling purchase, Valentine Candy was born Feb. 14, 2021 (Valentine’s Day). The colt is out of Taste Like Candy.

Saturday’s estimated attendance was 20,000. Racing resumes Sunday at 12:30 p.m. (Central).


Winning jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. (Valentine Candy): “I broke his maiden at Saratoga and he’s a really nice horse. I think this is my fourth time riding him. Today he surprised me how calm he was, how professional he was acting, how quick he broke from the gate. And he was much the best today.”

Winning trainer Steve Asmussen (Valentine Candy): “The last time ($150,000 Renaissance Stakes), covered up a little bit. Had to wait. Today, it was just perfect. The draw allowed it. Ricardo (Santana Jr.) had him away from the gates very cleanly. The race unfolded to his inside and he went to them when he felt appropriate. Horse looked great through the line.”