American Pioneer worked 7 furlongs in 1:28.40 over a fast track Friday morning at Oaklawn in preparation for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16. He breezed during a special 15-minute window set aside for horses scheduled to run in Oaklawn’s Racing Festival of the South, which begins Saturday with the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies.
Trained by Wayne Catalano, American Pioneer is coming off a 3 ¾-length maiden victory March 19 at Oaklawn. A son of Awesome Again, he ran 1 1/16 miles over a fast track in 1:44.46. About a half-hour earlier on the card, Cupid won the final major local prep for the Arkansas Derby, the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2), in 1:43.84 for 1 1/16 miles.
Catalano said Rafael Bejarano will ride American Pioneer, a winner of 1 of 2 career starts, in the Arkansas Derby.
Cupid is scheduled to return from his Southern California base for the Arkansas Derby.
American Pioneer worked just after Call Pat and Streamline breezed in advance of the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 15 at Oaklawn.
Call Pat went a half-mile in :50 for trainer Brad Cox, with Streamline going 5 furlongs in 1:01.80 for trainer Brian Williamson. The mares finished first and third, respectively, in the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 19 at Oaklawn, the final major local prep for the Apple Blossom.
Call Pat will again ridden by Joe Rocco Jr. Chris Landeros has the return call on Streamline.
Three-time defending Oaklawn champion Ricardo Santana Jr. will ride Theogony in the Apple Blossom, said Ruben Munoz, the jockey’s agent. Theogony finished fourth in the Azeri.
Trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel bids for his second victory in the Fantasy Stakes (G3) when he sends out Ready to Confess in the $400,000 race for 3-year-old fillies Saturday at Oaklawn. She is the co-8-1 third choice in the program. The projected six-horse field is headed by 3-5 program favorite Terra Promessa.
Ready to Confess hasn’t started since finishing fifth in the $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes Feb. 6 at Oaklawn. Von Hemel said “field size” factored heavily into the decision to run in Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile race.
“We were hoping to run around this time, whether it be here or Kentucky,” Von Hemel said. “But there just weren’t any other spots, either, that we were liking.”
Von Hemel said he passed the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 12 – the final major local prep for the Fantasy – because of her so-so performance in the Martha Washington. The filly, who races for her breeder, Josephine Abercrombie’s Pin Oak Stable, was beaten 5 ¾ lengths by Marquee Miss.
“We didn’t think she ran that well,” Von Hemel said. “Of course, she ran well here the first time.”
Ready to Confess won her 3-year-old debut Jan. 15 at Oaklawn, an entry-level allowance route on Abercrombie’s 90th birthday.
Von Hemel won the 2002 Fantasy with See How She Runs, also campaigned by Abercrombie.
Milestone for Asmussen
Six-time Oaklawn training champion Steve Asmussen reached a milestone Thursday in Hot Springs when Divine Interventio won his career debut in the fourth race. The victory pushed Asmussen past his previous single-season best for purse earnings ($1,874,433), which occurred last year.
Asmussen begins Friday’s program with $1,904,777 in purse earnings, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. He also tops the Oaklawn standings in victories, holding a commanding 36-24 lead over defending champion Chris Hartman with seven days remaining in the meeting.
Divine Interventio represented Asmussen’s 488th Oaklawn victory.
Milestone for Santana
Three-time defending Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. rode two winners Thursday, increasing his meet-leading total to 71. His 71 victories represents his highest single-season total at Oaklawn since he began riding in Hot Springs in 2011.
Santana rode 70 winners in 2013 to capture his first Oaklawn riding championship. He repeated in 2014 and 2015 with 59 and 53 victories, respectively.
Santana also leads all riders this year at Oaklawn in purse earnings ($2,738,226), also a career-best mark in Hot Springs. The 23-year-old had $2,552,303 in purses earnings at the 2014 Oaklawn meeting.
Ramon Vazquez (36) ranks second in victories at this year’s Oaklawn meet.
Thursday was jockey Chris Landeros’ final day at Oaklawn as a regular this season, his agent, Jay Fedor said. Landeros is headed to Keeneland, but will return to Oaklawn April 15 to rideStreamline in the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1), Fedor said. Landeros has won 23 races this year at Oaklawn. … Set the Trappe, sixth as a maiden in the $350,000 (G1) Sept. 7 at Saratoga, is scheduled to make his 3-year-old debut next week at Oaklawn, trainer Steve Hobby of Hot Springs said. … Six-time Oaklawn training champion Steve Asmussen is the guest for Saturday’s “Dawn At Oaklawn,” which offer fans a behind the scenes look at the racing industry from 7:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m. (Central). The program is free to the public and complimentary coffee and pastries will be served. Oaklawn paddock analyst Nancy Holthus will host a question and answer session with Asmussen on the south apron of the grandstand. Barn tours are also available. This season’s final edition of Dawn At Oaklawn is Friday, April 15. … Subtle Indian is the 2-1 program favorite for Sunday’s $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn. Subtle Indian is trying to become the meet’s first four-time winner.
Source: Oaklawn Park