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Oaklawn Park: Hobby Horses Head East

Oaklawn Park: Hobby Horses Head East
Photo: Oaklawn Park

Calling it the most successful season at Oaklawn in his career, trainer Steve Hobby is set to pull up stakes Friday and move his operation to Delaware Park for the summer.


The soon-to-be 56-year-old trainer ranked third in earnings this winter/spring behind Bob Baffert, who dominated stakes races including the $1 million Arkansas Derby and meet-leading trainer Steve Asmussen who started 75 more horses. Hobby went 21-for-87 and his horses earned $823,414.


“It’s been a great meet,” he said. “It was the best ever, money-wise, and we should have a good summer coming up.”


The stars who helped pad the earnings this year are on the trail to major events in the coming months, including CresRan LLC’s Tiz Miz Sue, winner of the Azeri Stakes (G3) in March and third-place finisher in the Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) last Friday. Already in the Mid-Atlantic region are 3-year-olds Junebugred and Launch Commander for JoAnn and Alex Lieblong. Junebugred won the Smarty Jones Stakes in January but developed a hairline fracture after finishing sixth in a division of the Southwest Stakes (G3).


“Tiz Miz Sue will get a three-week vacation in Fair Hill in Maryland and then we will point to the Obeah,” said Hobby, referring to the Grade 3 prep race in June leading up to the Delaware Handicap (G2). “We finished second in there to Havre de Grace. Hopefully it works as a good prep for us this time.”


Junebugred and Launch Commander are already on the comeback trail at Fair Hill Training Center, the private facility in the horse country of northeast Maryland. The latter broke his maiden last fall at Belmont Park and finished second in the Toccet Stakes at Aqueduct in November before he was sidelined.


“They’re both just starting back,” said Hobby. “Both went up there early and have been using the aqua-trainer. Launch Commander has been back on the track for a couple weeks and Junebugred will probably make it back next week. We are hoping for some big races with them. A fresh 3-year-old in the fall is not a bad thing to have.”


Hobby added that venerable retired stakes winner Chindi will also make the trip. The strikingly white stable pony won the 1998 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) and has logged plenty of miles in both his racing days and since retiring to “four-legged equine consultant” status, but Hobby says despite his 18 years of experience, he still has one immature quirk.


“No matter what, he will not travel alone,” said Hobby. “He has to have a horse or a human or a goat – something with him, or else he cries like a baby. I’ve had van drivers stop for gas and go into the store and he’ll start whining and crying right there. He always wants somebody with him.”


Oaklawn’s Barn Area Closes Tuesday


While most horses have already made their way to Kentucky, Chicago, Texas and various other places, a couple hundred horses remain in the Oaklawn barn area. The last day for training at Oaklawn until late November is Tuesday and the barn area will officially close at 4 p.m. that afternoon.




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