Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas declared himself “very pleased”
the morning after two of his leading 3-year-olds posted workouts Tuesday
in preparation for the $600,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn.
Willis Horton’s Will Take Charge, winner of the Smarty Jones Stakes
here in January, breezed six furlongs in 1:13 3/5. A short time later,
Calumet Farm’s Oxbow breezed the same distance in 1:13 4/5 in his first
workout since the Lecomte Stakes winner finished a close fourth in the
Risen Star Stakes, both at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.
“They were excellent,” said Lukas. “They both had nice breezes. They
got a little conditioning and handled the new surface. I really like the
way they went. We sent them up separately yet they both came back with
works that were almost identical, and I like that.”
Lukas reported that Titletown Five, runner-up in Saturday’s Gazebo
Stakes in his first start as a 3-year-old, emerged from the race in good
“He fooled me into thinking I had him fit enough,” said Lukas. “The
good ones will do that because they make things look so easy. It was a
good race for him and we should have plenty now to move forward with
With both 3-year-olds running in the Rebel, Lukas secured fellow Hall
of Famer Mike Smith to ride Oxbow while two-time Arkansas Derby
(G1)-winning jockey Jon Court remains aboard Will Take Charge.
In addition to the pair of colts, Lukas breezed Raison d’Etat, an
entrant in Saturday’s $150,000 Razorback Handicap, three furlongs in 37
4/5 as well as Broken Spell, third in two starts here this meet
including the Martha Washington Stakes, who went a half-mile in 50 1/5.
She will race in Saturday’s $150,000 Honeybee Stakes. Calumet’s grass
racing star and 2012 Rebel runner-up Optimizer was the bullet worker at a
half-mile, going in 48 1/5.
Carve Pointed to Rebel, Hoping to Carve Space in the Potential Full Field
With $600,000 and 85 points on the ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby,’ a
large field is coming together for the Rebel Stakes (G2) and that has
the connections of undefeated Carve anxious about getting a spot if the
14-horse starting gate fills to capacity.
The 3-year-old gelding is 2-for-2 with both impressive wins coming at
Oaklawn. He started his career for trainer Al Stall and owners
Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, making his debut in a maiden
claiming race, where trainer Steve Asmussen dropped a check with $30,000
worth of owner Michael Langford’s money and took him back to his barn.
His first run for his new team was a gutty score over highly regarded
Title Contender, trained by Bob Baffert, in an allowance race Feb. 17.
Oaklawn officials and published reports indicate 15 horses are considering running in the 1 1/16th-mile
contest on March 16. If all 15 enter, one would have to be excluded and
be placed on an “also eligible” list hoping another entrant scratches.
Total career earnings (excluding money won in restricted races like
those reserved only for horses bred in a particular state) are used to
rank the entrants. Carve has $47,400 earned in his two wins, placing him
13th and very much “on the bubble.”
“We are going to monitor how he’s developing,” said Darren Fleming,
assistant to Asmussen overseeing the Oaklawn string. “It really depends
on how many come up and how he comes up to the race. We need to see if
he’s going to be eligible, but for that kind of money, it’s definitely
worth taking a chance.”
Fleming has helped guide Team Asmussen back from a slow start to the
meet to third-place in the Oaklawn trainer’s standings. Through the
first month of the season, last year’s leading stable was just 2-for-34
but with 10 second-place finishes, meaning they had as many place horses
as the leading trainer at the time (Chris Richard) had wins. Since Feb.
9 when Sister Ginger upset the Martha Washington Stakes with jockey
Ricardo Santana Jr. aboard, Asmussen has gone 12-for-37, winning nearly a
third of his starts. Many of those wins came along with equally red-hot
Santana, who has gone 22-for-81 since Feb. 9.