March 4, 2022


HOT SPRINGS, AR (Friday, March 4, 2022) – Trainer Ernie Witt II bids for his first career stakes victory when he sends out the consistent Kaboom Baby in the $150,000 Downthedustyroad Breeders’ for female Arkansas-bred sprinters, 3 and up, Saturday at Oaklawn.

Probable post time for the 6-furlong Downthedustyroad, which goes as the sixth of 10 races, is 3:33 p.m. (Central). First post Saturday is 1 p.m., with the infield open for the first time this season, weather permitting. Also, on the card is the $150,000 Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes for Arkansas-bred sprinters.

Witt, 51, a former sports talk show host in the Arkansas River Valley, started his first horse in 2007 and is 0 for 13 in stakes races, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Witt, however, has finished second twice in stakes races and third four other times. Kaboom Baby recorded one of those third-place finishes in the $150,000 Rainbow Miss for 3-year-old Arkansas-bred filly sprinters last April at Oaklawn.

Kaboom Baby is the 3-1 second choice in the program for the Downthedustyroad after finishing second and third in open company in her last two starts during the 2021-2022 Oaklawn meeting that began Dec. 3. Asked if he believed this was his best chance to win a stakes race at Oaklawn, Witt, said, “Clearly.”

“I like our post position, being outside in the 8 hole,” said Witt, whose father, Ernie, is an attorney and owner/breeder from Ozark, Ark. “She’s had a lot of trouble at the gate, breaking. She just hasn’t had very many good, clean runs from the gate. Being on the outside I think is going to help us a lot. It gives Luis (Quinonez) options. I think she’s got more speed than she shows on the Form.”

The projected eight-horse Downthedustyroad field from the rail out: Richness, Chel-c Bailey to ride, 123 pounds, 5-1 on the morning line; Unbridled Twister, Ricardo Santana Jr., 123, 8-1; Starrgarita, David Cohen, 118, 20-1; Connie K, Jon Court, 123, 5-2; Hillary G, David Cabrera, 120, 4-1; Lady Astrid, Kelsi Harr, 120, 12-1; Too Pretty, Francisco Arrieta, 120, 9-2; and Kaboom Baby, Quinonez, 120.

Witt trains Kaboom Baby for her breeder, Tracy K. Selby, a school teacher from Knoxville, Ark. Kaboom Baby, a daughter of Hightail, has finished first, second or third in seven career starts – all at Oaklawn – and earned $194,900. She exits a third-place finish behind the talented Joyful Cadence in a Feb. 12 allowance sprint.

“She’s doing good,” Witt said. “Perfect timing between races – three weeks between races. Sets up real nice for her. She’s training great.”

Program favorite Connie K will be making her stakes debut for co-owner/trainer Randy Morse. Connie K was a front-running 7 ¾-length winner of her last start, a Jan. 8 allowance sprint against state-breds, and closed her 2021 campaign by beating open company Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.

Hillary G won last year’s Rainbow Miss to give trainer Tommy Vance of Hot Springs his first career stakes victory. Richness is 2 for 2 at the meeting for owner/trainer Tom Swearingen. Both victories were under Bailey, a 7-pound apprentice who will be making her stakes debut. She can’t claim a weight allowance Saturday, however, because it is a stakes race.

Too Pretty cuts back to a sprint after finishing third against open company in a Jan. 14 allowance race at 1 1/16 miles for trainer Dan Peitz. Lady Astrid, at odds of 60-1, beat Kaboom Baby and two-turn standout The Mary Rose in a Dec. 5 state-bred allowance sprint for trainer Robert N. Cline.

The Mary Rose won last year’s Downthedustyroad Breeders’ Stakes, but has overpowered open company in two 1 1/16-mile allowance races at the meeting for trainer John Ortiz.