Photo: Oaklawn Park
Trainer Steve Hobby has a dilemma, but it’s the kind of dilemma many
trainers would gladly wrestle with. After two victories by 3-year-old
colts Big Lute and For Greater Glory last weekend, Hobby is trying to
figure out the proper next steps and the calendar isn’t cooperating.
Owned by Joann and Alex Lieblong, both colts performed strongly
enough to crop up on the radar of many trackers of the Kentucky Derby
trail. Big Lute won a lucrative maiden race in his career debut last
Friday in a time that was faster than older sprinters ran earlier on the
card. The effort registered high speed figures in the 90s among the
leading public past performance makers.
For Greater Glory got a crafty ride from leading jockey Robby
Albarado en route to winning a maiden race at a mile Sunday afternoon.
While not as fast or visually impressive, Hobby has reason to believe
the choice of what the next race should be has to include stakes options
like the $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Feb. 18.
“What to do?” asked Hobby Wednesday morning at Oaklawn. “I’m about a
week off from perfect timing. I’d like to get an allowance race, and
there’s one on the day before the Southwest, but for Big Lute that’s
just 16 days. And the Southwest is 17. That’s pretty quick to come back
than I’d like with a second-time starter. But the quandary is wait a
little bit more, and where does that put me for the Rebel?”
The $600,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) is March 16 at 1 1/16th miles.
“The Southwest is definitely too quick back for For Greater Glory,”
said Hobby of his Sunday winner who held on by a neck over Moon Back
More, who was hampered by traffic trouble and ran out of time to rally
in the short stretch. “Everybody will probably say we probably weren’t
the best horse in that race, but I told Alex going in that we were about
a work or two short. I felt okay at a mile, but not at a mile-sixteen.
He’s a better horse than he ran and distance is definitely in his
And while Big Lute was sired by champion sprinter and two-time
Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Midnight Lute, Hobby feels fairly confident
longer, two-turn distance races are in his future.
“I had always heard Midnight Lute had throat surgeries,” he said. “So
was he such a good sprinter because he couldn’t run long or was he a
good sprinter because he couldn’t breathe? With this colt I’ve got
Deputy Minister on the mom’s side. He’s a big, strong, manly
son-of-a-buck and he strides like he definitely wants to stretch out.
We’ve got to find that out.”
Hobby also reported 2012 Azeri Stakes (G3) winner Tiz Miz Sue was on
target for her seasonal return in the $100,000 Bayakoa Stakes Feb. 16
and that jockey Joe Rocco Jr. would be up from Florida to ride her.
“She’s super-duper,” said Hobby. “I told Joe to get his plane ticket and get ready.”