Photo: Oaklawn Park
for Oaklawn’s signature event, the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1),
closed with 97 horses being made eligible for the 1 1/8-mile race,
including several horses
that had not been part of the early-bird nomination process prior to
the Feb. 20 Southwest Stakes (G3). Among the new names on the list were
Sunland Derby (G3) runner-up Isn’t He Clever and Spiral Stakes (G3)
third-place finisher Heavy Breathing, who are both
expected to run.
He Clever, by 2004 Arkansas Derby winner Smarty Jones, is expected to
arrive next Thursday, April 12 from his New Mexico base as he attempts
to pad his bankroll
of $188,000 in graded stakes earnings. With several key Kentucky Derby
preps still remaining, he currently sits 21st on the earnings list, the determining factor in making the 20-horse Derby field.
doing good, real good,” said trainer Henry Dominguez by phone. “We’re
just hoping he runs a similar race to the Sunland Derby, but maybe wait a
little longer this
time. It’s his style (to be near the front) and we’re not going to try
and change him.”
He Clever has four wins and two seconds from seven starts while
employing stalking tactics. His only “off-the-board” performance came in
the Robert B. Lewis Stakes
(G2) at Santa Anita in February when he went straight to the lead and
eventually faded to fifth. He was elevated for fourth in that race with
the disqualification of Groovin’ Solo.
kind of thrown that race out,” said Dominquez. “It was his first race
of the year and he was fresh. That’s not his style. He’s done well since
then and really matured.”
Dominguez said that jockey Robby Albarado, who won the 2007 Arkansas Derby with Curlin, will have the mount.