Tempt Fate Caps Big Meet for Caroom with Arkansas Breeders’ Championship Win

Hot Springs owner Jerry Caroom was seeing double late Friday afternoon at Oaklawn. In this case, it was a good thing.

Caroom capped a stellar meeting when favored Tempt Fate, under Cristian Torres, posted a two-length wire-to-wire victory in the $200,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Championship Stakes for state-breds, 3 and up, at 1 1/16 miles.

It was the 10th victory this season for Caroom, who ranked fourth in the owner’s standings entering Saturday’s closing-day program, and pushed his purse earnings to $526,605. Much of the heavy lifting was done by Tempt Fate, who bankrolled $313,800 and became the meet’s first four-time winner.

Caroom also won the inaugural Arkansas Breeders’ Championship in 2019 with Hoonani Road, who, like Tempt Fate, capped a perfect Oaklawn meeting (4 for 4) with a wire-to-wire victory in his two-turn debut. Tempt Fate, a 4-year-old son of Hamazing Destiny, paid $5.80.

“It’s just the luckiest thing in the world,” Caroom said in the winner’s circle following the race. “Clearly, Oaklawn and what they’ve done here needs to be (commended). All the horsemen, we’re very grateful for what the Cella family has done for racing here. Look at this? This is magnificent. This is a great place to be.”

Prior to the Arkansas Breeders’ Championship, Tempt Fate won the $150,000 Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes March 27 and two allowance races at the meeting (Hoonani Road did the same in 2019). Trainer Carl Deville, on behalf of Caroom, claimed Tempt Fate for $40,000 out of a third-place finish in his second career start, Feb. 14, 2020, at Oaklawn. Talk about the perfect Valentine’s Day gift.

“Actually, it was 100 percent Carl Deville,” Caroom said. “I had absolutely nothing to do with it. I paid for it. So often that’s the way it is. And he’s fun. You see how big he is? He’s like as wide as a Volkswagen.”

Deville, who broke Hoonani Road, said Tempt Fate “probably” will be freshened before making “a couple” of starts later this year. Tempt Fate collected $120,000 for his second career stakes victory, pushing his career total to $376,100. The colt is 5 for 11 overall.

Caroom said Tempt Fate can now be mentioned in the same breath as Hoonani Road, who won his first seven Oaklawn starts – all against state-breds – including the $100,000 Rainbow Stakes in 2018. Tempt Fate finished third in last year’s Rainbow, but has blossomed in 2021.

“I think he’s clearly there,” Caroom said. “We’ll have to look, but I think he’s clearly there.”

As for Hoonani Road, Caroom said he privately purchased the 5-year-old gelding last week and retired him to a farm around Opelousas, La., where Deville’s grandchildren reside.

“He’s got a whole other good life that’s not at risk,” Caroom said. “He’s retired and well taken care of and I’ll get to see him periodically. We need to thank that horse as well.”

Hoonani Road did his best work for trainer Wayne Catalano before the gelding was claimed for $25,000 out of an Aug. 15, 2020, victory at Ellis Park. Hoonani Road was winless in three starts this year at Oaklawn and was claimed for $10,000 by trainer Greg Compton, an Arkansas native, April 11. The gelding finished third in what would be his final career start.

“I’m assured that the horse will be well taken care of,” Caroom said. “I paid a little premium to buy him privately. Took him and gave him a good home.”

Hoonani Road, a son of Jonesboro, retires with a 9-2-2 record from 21 lifetime starts and earnings of $499,941.

Finish Lines

Trainer Jinks Fires of Hot Springs recorded his first winner of the meeting in Friday’s fourth race with favored Very Spicy ($3.60) for his longtime clients, Bob and Val Yagos of Jacksonville, Ark. It marked the 44th consecutive year with at least one Oaklawn victory for Fires, 80, who won the 2011 Arkansas Derby with the Yagos-owned Archarcharch and multiple Oaklawn stakes with Very Spicy’s sire, Spotsgone, also campaigned by the couple. … Friday’s $200,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Championship Stakes (Tempt Fate) marked the most lucrative career victory for jockey Cristian Torres, who, despite missing the first six days of racing after moving his tack from Gulfstream Park, was headed toward a top 10 finish in his Oaklawn debut. Torres ranked seventh in the standings through Friday, the penultimate day of the weather-shortened 51-day meeting, with 21 victories. Torres said he will return to Gulfstream with Oaklawn closing. … David Cabrera rode three winners Friday to remain mathematically alive in pursuit of his first Oaklawn riding title. Cabrera won the second race aboard favored Papa Star ($5.40) for trainer Shea Stuart, ninth race aboard favored Empire of Gold ($3.80) for trainer Terry Eoff and the 11th race aboard favored Happymac ($3.60) for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. The triple pulled Cabrera within 68-60 of presumed champion Ricardo Santana Jr. entering Saturday’s 51st and final day of the meeting. Cabrera was named on horses in all 12 races Saturday. Santana, whose last day was Sunday, is a seven-time Oaklawn riding champion. Empire of Gold finished fourth in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) last fall at Keeneland. … Happymac became the third winner at the Oaklawn meet sired by champion Runhappy, breaking his maiden by 10 ¼ lengths in the fastest 5 ½ furlongs (1:03.52) of the season. Happymac was exiting a runner-up finish behind the Bob Baffert-trained Following Sea – Runhappy’s second Oaklawn winner – in another maiden special weights sprint April 10.. Happymac represented the 59th winner at the meeting for Asmussen, who captured a record-tying 11th Oaklawn training title this year. … Ramon Vazquez, who secured another top five finish in the Oaklawn standings, rode three winners Friday. Vazquez won the first race aboard favored He’s No Bull ($4.60) for trainer Robertino Diodoro, sixth race aboard favored Kasserine Pass ($6.80) for trainer Aidan Green and the eighth race aboard D’ Rapper ($12.60) for trainer Federico Villafranco. He’s No Bull and Kasserine Pass were both for M and M Racing (Mike and Mickala Sisk), Oaklawn’s leading owner the last four years. … Kelsi Harr narrowly missed her first career Oaklawn riding triple Friday after winning aboard Very Spicy, the seventh race aboard Undecidedcertainty ($57) for her fiancée, trainer Robert N. Cline, and finishing second, beaten a nose, in the second race. … Favored Torin ($3.80) represented the 15th winner at the meeting for trainer John Ortiz, a single-season Oaklawn personal best, in Friday’s third race. Ortiz won 14 races in 2019. … Trainer John E. Cox won a five-way shake, or blind draw, for Torin, who was the 500th claim at the meet. Through Friday, the 50th day of the meeting, 504 claims had totaled $8,968,500.