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Nehro Tightens Screws; Sabercat Breezes

Two of trainer Steve Asmussen’s biggest Racing Festival stars posted final maintenance workouts the past two mornings at Oaklawn with Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Sabercat breezing Monday for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) and the runner-up in that race last year, Nehro, tightening the screws Tuesday morning ahead of Saturday’s $400,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2).


Under the direction of assistant trainer Darren Flemming, Sabercat went a half-mile in 50 2/5 as he seeks to bounce back from a dull eighth-place finish in the Rebel Stakes (G2) in what was his first start of the year. He closed out his 2-year-old campaign with a win in the $1 million Delta Jackpot (G3) where the lucrative purse has kept the son of Bluegrass Cat above the scramble for Graded stakes earnings this season. Those earnings help determine which horses qualify for the 20-horse Kentucky Derby.


“He went good in a little half-mile,” said Flemming, who oversees the Asmussen strings in Texas and Louisiana throughout the year. “I took him down to the Delta race and I think he’s moving just as good now as he was then. Hopefully he should move forward off his last race. This is a different scenario and I expect him to run a big race.”


For Zayat Stable’s Nehro, the rebound isn’t from a disappointing last race but from muscle cramps that popped up at an inopportune time the day before he was scheduled to run in the New Orleans Handicap (G2). He has posted two workouts at Oaklawn since including five furlongs Tuesday morning in 1:02 1/5.


“His work was nice,” said Flemming, who was managing at Fair Grounds when Nehro “tied up.” “It was terrible. It wasn’t his first time doing it, but it just seems the hot weather and the muggy weather were the circumstances this time. He’s done much better getting out of that.”


Among other Asmussen workers at Oaklawn this week were 3-year-old Verne, an impressive maiden winner by four lengths March 10 at Sunland Park, going a half-mile in 49 3/5 on Monday for owners Stonestreet Stable. On Tuesday 4-year-old Astrology breezed five furlongs in 1:01 4/5 as he continues to work his way back into shape. He last raced in the Haskell Invitational (G1) in New Jersey and was third in last year’s Preakness Stakes (G1).


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