Stakes Advance - Fifth Season

Compiled by Robert Yates

Take two.

Eight older horses are entered in the $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes Saturday at Oaklawn, a one-mile race for 4-year-olds and up that was postponed one week because of winter weather cancellations.

Probable post time for the Fifth Season, the ninth of 10 races, is 4:55 p.m. (Central). Racing begins at 12:30 p.m.

The Fifth Season field: Promise Keeper (#1) , Harry Hernandez to ride, 115 pounds, 10-1 on the morning line; Silver Prospector (#2), Keith Asmussen, 122, 9-2; Brigadier General (#3), Julien Leparoux, 122, 6-1; Seize the Night (#4), Cristian Torres, 122, 8-1; Kupuna (#5), Nik Juarez, 122, 7-2; Durante (#6), Ramon Vazquez, 122, 9-5; Logical Myth (#7), Francisco Arrieta, 115, 6-1; and Nautical Star (#8), Chris Landeros, 122, 12-1.

Nine horses, including 2023 winner Ginobili, were originally entered in the Fifth Season. Ginobili didn’t make the trip from Southern California and finished fifth in his comeback, a Jan. 19 allowance at Santa Anita.

Holdovers include Kupuna (#5), who is seeking his first career stakes victory. The Bret Calhoun-trainee has won two of his three previous starts at Oaklawn and was second, beaten just three-quarters of a length by Grade 3 winner Zozos, in the $175,000 Knicks Go last May at Churchill Downs and seventh in the $100,000 R.A. Cowboy Jones Aug. 13 at Ellis Park. Both races were contested at the Fifth Season distance of one-mile.

After the R.A. Cowboy Jones, Kupuna didn’t resurface until Nov. 26 at Churchill Downs, where the Hard Spun gelding finished fourth in a seven-furlong allowance race. Kupuna broke his maiden in 2022 at Oaklawn in a one-mile race and won a 1 1/16-miles Oaklawn allowance race in January of 2023.

“He’s run well there in Hot Springs,” said Calhoun, who trains Kupuna for longtime clients Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch. “We’ve always thought a lot of him. We gave him a little freshening at the end of the summer. I thought his comeback race was very good. I thought he ran very, very well. Just got a little short there at the end. Kind of pointed towards this race for a while. I like the mile. I like running him over there. I look forward to running him. I think he’s coming into the race well.”

Kupuna has been based this winter at Fair Grounds and was scratched from its $175,000 Louisiana Stakes for older horses at 1 1/16 miles last Saturday in favor of the redrawn Fifth Season, which Calhoun said was always his preference.

“My only concern was whether they were going to bring the race back,” Calhoun said. “Other than that, the extra week didn’t bother me.”

Other entrants include millionaire multiple graded stakes winner Silver Prospector (#2) for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and Grade 3 winner Promise Keeper (#1) for trainer Robertino Diodoro. Grade 3 winner Durante (#6) is owned and trained by David Jacobson and Nautical Star (#8) is trained by Chris Hartman.

Durante (#6) was made the 9-5 program favorite off the strength of his third-place finish in the $150,000 Gravesend Stakes in his last start at Aqueduct after a runner-up finish in the G3-Fall Highweight in November. Silver Prospector (#2) finished fifth in the last two runnings of the Fifth Season for Asmussen, who is seeking his record-extending 108th career Oaklawn stakes victory and fourth this season. Nautical Star (#8) moves back to two turns after a sharp allowance race victory sprinting Dec. 16 at Oaklawn in his first start for Hartman.

Promise Keeper (#1) adds blinkers. Durante (#6) and Logical Myth (#7) were supplemental nominees.