Thousand Words looks to catch a flight for Oaklawn Stakes

Thousand Words looks to catch a flight for Oaklawn Stakes
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Jason Loutsch, racing manager for Albaugh Family Stables, has noticed the general public discounting Thousand Words on the 2020 Kentucky Derby trail, “and that’s fine — deservedly so, probably.”

But off the colt’s lone defeat March 7 in the San Felipe Stakes (G2), connections are hoping to see a rebound Saturday in the $200,000 Oaklawn Stakes, a race that grants an Arkansas Derby (G1) spot to its top three finishers.

Trainer Bob Baffert said he was still working out travel logistics as of Monday afternoon and, accordingly, a riding assignment isn’t final. If flight plans are confirmed, Thousand Words will be entered Wednesday in the 1 1/8-mile race and could travel alongside Improbable, a 4-year-old candidate for the $150,000 Oaklawn Mile on the same card.

“He had one clunker,” Loutsch said of Thousand Words, a $1 million son of Pioneerof the Nile campaigned in partnership with Spendthrift Farm.

A debut winner last October at Santa Anita, Thousand Words did just enough to win his next two decisions in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) and Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3). He was off as the second choice to Baffert stablemate Authentic in the San Felipe, tracked a length off the lead through the opening half mile and offered little in the lane en route to finishing fourth by 11 1/4 lengths.

“Bob said he was just a little gung ho, got too close to the pace, and that’s just not how he wants to run his race,” Loutsch said. “We’re taking the blinkers off, going to settle back, and he’s just a long-striding colt.”

“He’s had a few good works back,” with Thousand Words breezing a six-furlong bullet in 1:12.40 last Saturday at Santa Anita. “It’ll be a challenging field going to Arkansas, but we’ll be excited to see what he can do going a mile and an eighth. We’ve always thought that would be his best distance.”

Since the San Felipe effort, Baffert also has considered since-postponed races such as the Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct. The Oaklawn Stakes and May 2 Arkansas Derby are the only races left on the current stakes calendar for 3-year-olds because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s been really challenging because you point to races, you think they’re going to run and then they’re canceled,” Loutsch said. “Those were all the right decisions, but it’s been really challenging for owners to get excited about anything with all that’s going on in society. We have bigger things to worry about.

“I just hope this summer and fall, we get everything behind us and get back to running and pointing toward the big races. I just hope that we get to run the Derby this year.”

The Kentucky Derby, now scheduled for Sept. 5, remains a possibility for another Albaugh Family Stables runner, Dennis’ Moment. After a stumble at the start of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, he finished last as the favorite in the Fountain of Youth (G2).

The son of Tiznow has at times also displayed natural talent that ranked him among the top early Derby favorites during the winter.

“Dennis is going to the track every day,” Loutsch said of the Dale Romans trainee, currently stabled at Gulfstream Park in Florida. “Really, we’re treating this like November. There’s nothing we’re pointing to right now because there’s so much uncertainty. We’re just trying to get him healthy and happy and have a nice summer and fall campaign with him.”

2020 Oaklawn Stakes (LS)

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