Photo: Oaklawn Park
Donnie K. Von Hemel rolled out his barn’s top runners on successive
mornings at Oaklawn with a pair of them landing the “bullet” designation
as the fastest of
the morning at their distance.
started Tuesday morning when Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner
Caleb’s Posse drilled five furlongs in 59 4/5 seconds as he prepares to
head back to New York for the
Carter Handicap (G1) at Aqueduct April 7. Wednesday, Graded-stakes
placed Hearts on Fire went a half-mile in 48 4/5 with a possible start
here in the Carousel Stakes or the Redbud Stakes on her agenda April 12
during the Racing Festival of the South. Razorback
Handicap (G3) winner Alternation breezed Thursday morning, going five
furlongs in 1:00 2/5. His time was the third-fastest of the morning as
he aims for his third stakes win this season in the $400,000 Oaklawn
Handicap (G2) April 14.
Caleb’s Posse, the goal was maintenance according to Von Hemel. The son
of Posse was second in his seasonal debut in the Tom Fool Handicap (G3)
last time out at six
furlongs. The Carter adds another furlong as well as stiffer
competition for the Cheyenne Stable and McNeil Stables’ color-bearer.
always trying to make it to the next race, first and foremost,” said
Von Hemel. “In this work, we knew he needed to do something pretty good
and we got it. We
don’t need any more speed works from him at this point.”
Posse will van to Memphis, then get the equine equivalent of a FedEx
barcode, taking an air freight flight to Newark, N.J. in a cargo hold
filled with everyone’s
absolutely, positively, get-there-overnight packages. Of course, he
will be in a specially designed horse palette and not a really big
envelope. Those shipping plans are the same as when he just missed
catching Aqueduct horse-for-the-course Calibrachoa by
a diminishing amount in the Tom Fool last month.
Creek Farm’s Hearts On Fire is trying to bounce back from a third-place
finish in a stakes-caliber allowance March 15 at 1 1/16th
miles. Prior to that,
she finished fourth while sprinting in the Spring Fever Stakes. The
$75,000 Carousel offers another chance to sprint while the $100,000
Redbud on the same card is at 1 1/16th miles. Depending on weight assignments, the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap
could also be an option for the 4-year-old daughter of Lion Heart during the Racing Festival on April 13.
took his turn Thursday morning, and while his five-furlong breeze
didn’t earn black-type on the worktab, it did please Von Hemel with the
way it unfolded.
was happy with it because he probably started off going about 25 for
the first quarter but was really picking it up down the lane,” he said.
“He was wearing blinkers,
but he was still nice and relaxed. That was the test this morning. To
see if he could stay relaxed until we asked him.”
by Pin Oak Stable, Alternation has appeared dominant in his two stakes
wins, coming from off the pace in the Essex Handicap then taking
advantage of a slow pace
and wiring the Razorback last time. More out-of-town runners are
expected to test him in the Oaklawn Handicap, including Donn Handicap
(G1) winner Hymn Book and possibly Santa Anita Handicap (G1) winner Ron
the Greek or even last year’s Horse of the Year Havre
de Grace if her connections like the weight assignments against males
better than her handicap in the Apple Blossom.
The Mallard Man Hunts For Arkansas Breeders’ Cash
Star Racing Stable’s The Mallard Man has been biding his time waiting
for his big chance to shine among his fellow Arkansas-breds. That chance
is scheduled to arrive
Sunday in the $50,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes at Oaklawn, the race he
won last year.
“He’s had a lot of issues, and until now we haven’t felt like he was 100 percent,” said trainer Al Cates. “He’s doing super.”
issues included getting sick earlier this winter and having to wait for
the right races to fill at the right times. That combination led to
starting the year in the
Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes at six furlongs and running into
uber-Arky-bred Comedero at his favorite distance. The Mallard Man
rallied well up the rail and was nodded back to third. In his follow up
start, he jumped into a stakes caliber allowance race, but
jumped the wrong way at the start and could only chase Racing Bran and
Kate’s Main Man home in sixth.
really needed him to get that last race,” said Cates. “The start
happened and that made it look worse, but the main thing was that he
needed the race bad. Now hopefully
we’re going into this race the way we need to.”