Stakes Advance - The Tinsel

Compiled by Robert Yates


The consistent Speed Bias (#4) has another chance to grab his first career stakes race victory Saturday in Oaklawn’s $200,000 Tinsel Stakes. Probable post time for the nine-furlong Tinsel, the ninth of 10 races, is 4:14 p.m. (Central). Racing begins at 12:30 p.m.

The seven-horse Tinsel field from the rail out: War Campaign (#1), Emmanuel Esquivel to ride, 125 pounds, 4-1 on the morning line; Strong Quality (#2), Florent Geroux, 125, 5-2; Seize the Night (#3), Francisco Arrieta, 125, 9-2; Speed Bias (#4), Ramon Vazquez, 122, 3-1; Double Crown (#5), Ricardo Santana Jr., 122, 10-1; Ardanwood (#6), Chris Landeros, 122, 12-1; and Denington (#7), Julien Leparoux, 122, 5-1.

Speed Bias has lost eight consecutive starts since a front-running 5 ½-length allowance race victory at 1 1/16 miles last January at Oaklawn. During that span against top company, Speed Bias has four runner-up finishes and finished third twice.

Speed Bias finished second, beaten a nose by millionaire Rattle N Roll, in the 1 3/16-miles $250,000 G3-Pimlico Special in May; was second to future Grade 1 winner Bright Future in a 1 1/8-miles allowance race at Saratoga in July and exits a third-place finish, beaten a neck, in the nine-furlong $350,000 G2-Fayette Stakes in October at Keeneland.

“We’re due,” said Ron Moquett, who trains the 4-year-old son of champion Uncle Mo for William Sparks and Keith Johnston. “He’s a nice horse that’s got a lot of ability and very consistent with effort and he’s run against some really nice horses in every race. So, we believe that there’s a stakes race win out there with his name on it somewhere and we’ll keep leading him over there until he starts picking them up.”

Speed Bias (#4) had been previously based at Churchill Downs, but Moquett opted to pass its signature fall race, the $600,000 G2-Clark Stakes, in favor of the Tinsel.

“He ran so hard at Keeneland and we decided we wanted to give a little spacing,” Moquett said. “So, we decided with the connections being so fond of Oaklawn, we would skip the Clark and came to Oaklawn with this race in mind.”

Seize the Night (#3) is the first scheduled Oaklawn starter for trainer Jade Cunningham, who went out on her own last summer in Kentucky after previously working for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas and trainer Dallas Stewart, a longtime Lukas assistant.

Cunningham started her first horse Sept. 3 and has had four other starters to date, with her best finish a fourth by Seize the Night in a turf allowance Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs. Seize the Night was a two-time allowance winner last season at Oaklawn for Lukas. One of the victories was a half-length decision over Speed Bias.

Like Speed Bias, Seize the Night is seeking his first career stakes victory after finishing sixth in the $400,000 G3-Ack Ack in September at Churchill Downs.

“Of course, there’s some competitive horses, but he’s training really good and it wouldn’t be fair to not give him the opportunity to show me if he’s got it or not,” Cunningham said. “I personally believe that he does.”

Program favorite Strong Quality (#2) exits a front-running 9 ¼-length off-the-turf allowance victory at 1 1/16-miles Nov. 18 at Churchill Downs for dual Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse. Denington (#7), who has never faced older horses, began his busy 13-race 2023 campaign with a third-place finish in the $250,000 Smarty Jones Stakes for 3-year-olds New Year’s Day at Oaklawn for trainer Kenny McPeek.