Derby (G1) contender Bayern, the 2-1 second choice on the morning line,
got his first feel for the Oaklawn Park racing strip on Thursday
morning after arriving Wednesday
with the contingent of California horses competing in Oaklawn’s Racing
Festival of the South.
Photo: Benoit Photos
Bob Baffert trainee galloped once around the oval right after the break
and was scheduled to school in the paddock on Friday afternoon
got plenty of action,” said Jim Barnes, Baffert’s top assistant who
will also saddle two other horses in supporting stakes over the weekend.
Shah’s Bayern has only had two starts, but he has created considerable
buzz by winning them both with ease. In his seven-furlong maiden effort
at Santa Anita he kicked
clear by 3 ¼ lengths and then came back to make light work of a first
level allowance at one mile with a 15 length score.
don’t really know how good he is until you run in this kind of race,”
Barnes said. “He needs to continue on. If he does carry on in his third
race like he has in his first
two, he’s pretty good. It’s time for him to step up now, but he had his
two-turn race and he handled that. This is our next step.”
of Fame rider Gary Stevens was aboard for the first two races and he
will be reunited with Bayern when they break from post #8. At first
glance, the race doesn’t seem
to have an abundance of early pace, but anything can happen when the
sure that Bob will talk to Gary and tell him what he wants him to do.
We have a good post to work with and that will help a lot because they
won’t have to overcome too
much, hopefully. Gary knows this horse and he’ll know what to do as the
race develops to be in the right spot.”
who won the 2012 Arkansas Derby with Bodemeister, has a stunning record
of success in Oaklawn’s graded stakes. Since 2010, he has sent out 20
horses, which have combined
for 12 wins, four seconds and four those in those graded races.
who has yet to rack up any qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby,
now has the chance to prove he deserves to Run for the Roses. The
Arkansas Derby is in the Championship
Series of qualifying races and offers 170 points, with 100 for first,
40 for second, 20 for third and 10 for a fourth place finish.
Apple Blossom Contenders Settling In
$600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap is the other of Oaklawn’s Grade 1
affairs and although the race attracted only five fillies and mares aged
4 and up, the competition is
Grade 1 winner and likely post time odds-on favorite Close Hatches, the
victress of the Azeri Stakes (G2) here Mar. 15 in the first start of
her 4yo campaign, will
be challenged by Rose to Gold, Stanwyck, defending champion On Fire
Baby, and Let Faith Arise.
Stanwyck and Let Faith Arise were among the California horses to arrive and get settled in on Wednesday afternoon.
and Ann Moss’ homebred Stanwyck has brought trainer John Shirreffs back
to Oaklawn for the first time since he led multiple champion and 2010
Horse of the Year Zenyatta
into the Apple Blossom winner’s circle in 2008 and 2010.
pretty exciting to be back,” said Shirreffs. “I have such great
memories of the Apple Blossom and Oaklawn Park. A few of the people here
remember me and have welcomed
me, so that’s always nice.”
who walked the shedrow in the morning and was scheduled to school in
the paddock in the afternoon, ran third when Let Faith Arise was second
in the Santa Maria (G2)
at Santa Anita two starts back, and then was third again when Let Faith
Arise won the Santa Margarita (G1) on Mar 15.
Might the tables be turned on her rival Friday afternoon?
would be nice,” said Shirreffs. “Stanwyck is coming into the race
really well. She’s a filly that’s improving. It seems like in each of
her last four races, she’s gotten
a little bit better. The distance suits her and she doesn’t have to
take her racetrack with her. She’s run on the turf, she’s run in New
York and California, so she’ll be fine. Oaklawn’s always been a pretty
fair track and horses can win on the lead or come
With the front-running On Fire Baby and Close Hatches in the race, the pace should be mighty lively.
hoping that those two go out together,” said Shirreffs. “On Fire Baby
had a good prep race in the Azeri and I’m sure she’s ready to fire, and
of course, Close Hatches
won on the lead that day. My filly is doing so well that we decided to
won the 2008 Oaklawn Handicap with the Moss’ Tiago and Giacomo won the
Kentucky Derby for the same connections in 2005. Set Them Free is the
dam of Tiago, Giacomo
and Stanwyck, who was sired by Empire Maker.
“She’s well bred. She’s got the pedigree,” said Shirreffs.
Faith Arise’s trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer, wasn’t scheduled to arrive
in Hot Spring until Thursday night, but the Santa Margarita Stakes (G1)
winner was settled in nicely
after her trip from the West Coast.
filly ships better than any horse I’ve ever seen,” said Edgar
Hernandez, who handles travel arrangements across the country for
Hollendorfer’s horses and was looking
after her in the interim. “She’s a very, very nice filly. If you look
at her last race she performed very well. Sometimes, it’s not only that
they won, but how they performed.”
Town Thoroughbreds’ Let Faith Arise galloped one mile on Thursday
morning and then stood at the gate. She was scheduled for a lesson in
the paddock in the afternoon.
to Gold, winner of the Fantasy (G3) and the Honeybee (G3) Stakes here a
year ago, is another coming into the Apple Blossom in fine fettle after
wintering with trainer
Sal Santoro at his South Florida base.
paper, this race looks very, very tough,” Santoro said. “The fillies in
here are all really nice and they’ve got a lot of speed. Out of the
gate and for the first half-mile,
it might look like a Quarter Horse race, but from there, they’ll
figure it out. Rose always does good when she’s under a little bit of
pressure, and we’ve got Calvin Borel riding her again. Calvin’s always
good for at least five lengths.”