Stakes Advance - Ring The Bell & Mistletoe

by Robert Yates


Trainer Chris Hartman holds a strong hand for the $150,000 Ring the Bell Stakes Saturday at Oaklawn, sending out millionaires Tejano Twist (#6) and Necker Island (#5) in the 6-furlong event for 3-year-olds and up.

“Sheesh,” Hartman said, “they look good in there, don’t they? Both of them. Little concerned about the pace scenario.”

The Ring the Bell goes as the sixth of 10 races, with probable post time 2:50 p.m. (Central). Racing begins at 12:30 p.m.

The nine-horse Ring the Bell field from the rail out: Osbourne (#1), Julien Leparoux to ride, 124 pounds, 5-1 on the morning line; Manuelito (#2), Walter De La Cruz, 121, 20-1; Ultimate (#3), Ramsey Zimmerman, 124, 12-1; Top Gunner (#4), Ricardo Santana Jr., 121, 15-1; Necker Island (#5), Cristian Torres, 124, 8-1; Tejano Twist (#6), Chris Landeros, 124, 8-5; Ryvit (#7), Keith Asmussen, 122, 2-1; Caddo River (#8), Rafael Bejarano, 124, 20-1; and Sir Wellington (#9), Eduardo Gallardo, 124, 12-1.

Program favorite Tejano Twist (#6) was among Oaklawn’s top older male sprinters last season, winning an allowance race and the $200,000 G3-Whitmore Stakes. In his last start, the late-runner was a 1 ½-length winner of the six-furlong $300,000 Bet On Sunshine Stakes at Churchill Downs.

Necker Island (#5) won the 2021 Bet On Sunshine, was fourth this year and fourth in the $350,000 G2-Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland.

“Both are doing good,” said Hartman said. “Hoping for a 1-2 finish.”

In addition to Tejano Twist, three other Oaklawn stakes winners are entered – Ryvit (#7) for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, Caddo River (#8) for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas and Sir Wellington (#9) for trainer Mac Robertson.

Ryvit (#7), a supplemental nominee who has never faced older horses, won three six-furlong races last season at Oaklawn, including the $150,000 Bachelor Stakes for 3-year-olds. He added victories in the $200,000 G3-Chick Lang Stakes May 20 at Pimlico, Ellis Park’s $175,000 Maxfield Stakes in July and $300,000 Steel Valley Sprint Stakes last month at Mahoning Valley. Ryvit (#7) overcame a troubled start to win the Steel Valley, his 10th start of 2023.

“He’s run some wonderful races,” Asmussen said. “If anything, his last race was his best race. Lot of travel. Hopefully, it didn’t take too much out of him. Obviously, been anxious to get him back here because of the meet that he had last year.”

Caddo River (#9), a homebred for Arkansas lumberman John Ed Anthony, has spent most of his career in two-turn events, winning Oaklawn’s one-mile $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes in 2021 and finishing second in the $1 million G1-Arkansas Derby later in the meeting. He has lost five consecutive starts, and has never raced six furlongs.

“Mr. Anthony decided that he would like to back him up and try to sprint him,” Lukas said. “So, we’re going to try that.”

Sir Wellington (#9) won Oaklawn’s $150,000 Gazebo Stakes in 2021 at Oaklawn.

Ultimate (#3) gave 2022-2023 Oaklawn leading owners Heath and Sheena Campbell their first career stakes victory in Prairie Meadows’ $100,000 Iowa Sprint in July.


An evenly matched field of 11, including defending champion Lovely Ride (#4), is entered in the one-mile $150,000 Mistletoe Stakes for fillies and mares Saturday.

Probable post time for the Mistletoe, the ninth of 10 races, is 4:14 p.m. (Central). Racing begins at 12:30 p.m.

The projected Mistletoe field from the rail out: Big Bad Diva (#1) , Ramsey Zimmerman to ride, 117 pounds, 20-1 on the morning line; Misty Veil (#2), Isaac Castillo, 117, 9-2; Charlize (#3), Chris Landeros, 115, 30-1; Lovely Ride (#4), Cristian Torres, 124, 4-1; Saddle Up Jessie (#5), Francisco Arrieta, 117, 6-1; Coastal Charm (#6), Martin Garcia, 124, 9-2; Effortlesslyelgant (#7), Rafael Bejarano, 122, 12-1; Charlee Mae (#8), Luis Fuentes, 117, 20-1; Adaline Julia (#9), Ramon Vazquez, 124, 6-1; Ice Orchid (#10), Ricardo Santana Jr., 124, 7-2; and Butterbean (#11), Julien Leparoux, 121, 20-1.

The speedy Lovely Ride (#4) hasn’t started since a fifth-place finish in the one-mile $200,000 Ouija Board Distaff Stakes on the turf at Lone Star Park in May.

Lovely Ride (#4) was among the top older two-turn females last season at Oaklawn, winning the Mistletoe over a sloppy surface and the $150,000 Pippin Stakes at 1 1/16-miles Jan. 7.

Stablemate Adaline Julia (#9) also has a strong local record after winning a maiden special weight and entry-level allowance last season. She exits a victory in the one-mile $100,000 Treasure Chest Stakes in November at Delta Downs.

“Obviously, both horses like it here,” trainer Sean Williams said. “We expect both to run well.”

Program favorite Ice Orchid (#10), who was scratched from the 2022 Mistletoe because of an off track, bids for her first career stakes victory.

A homebred for John Ed Anthony’s Shortleaf Stables, Ice Orchid (#10) has finished first, second or third in 11 of 14 lifetime starts. She is winless in six tries against stakes company, but has finished second four times, including the 2023 Pippin. She also ran second behind Coastal Charm (#6) in $100,000 Iowa Distaff Stakes at 1 1/16 miles July 7 at Prairie Meadows.

Ice Orchid exits a head defeat in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs.

“She’s proven to be a solid war horse,” trainer John Ortiz said. “She steps up every time. Sometimes, she just has a difficult trip. Hopefully, we can get the right trip for her and get the job done.”

Coastal Charm (#6), unraced since August, was also a gate-to-wire winner of the inaugural one-mile $150,000 Dig A Diamond Stakes for trainer Steve Hobby of Hot Springs. Misty Veil (#2) was seventh in last season’s Pippin for trainer Mike Maker.

Effortlesslyelgant (#7), a promising 3-year-old for trainer Norm Casse, has never faced older horses. She broke her maiden by 4 ¾-lengths in front-running fashion sprinting at Oaklawn in January.

Grade 3 winner Butterbean (#11) was third in the Dig A Diamond for trainer Kenny McPeek.