Cox and Landers Making Formidable Team
Trainer Brad Cox said last spring that if prominent Arkansas automobile dealer Steve Landers would be patient, they would win races together. Cox was right.
Cox and Landers have teamed for 15 victories the last 10 months, including five this year at Oaklawn, where Landers begins the week as the meet’s co-third-leading owner.
Landers became Cox’s biggest client after the owner moved 11 horses at Oaklawn into his barn late last March. He was Oaklawn’s fourth-leading owner in 2014 with 11 victories, but was 0 for 18 at the 2015 meeting.
Turn Signal represented Cox’s first starter for Landers April 28 at Churchill Downs. Their first victory together was Riding First Class May 22 at Churchill Downs.
“He’s great to work with,” said Cox, who has 12 victories so far this meet. “We’ve got a good friendship/business relationship. It’s working well. We seem to be on the same page, and I think we’re going to have a great year.”
Cox has approximately 13 horses for Landers at Oaklawn, including unbeaten 3-year-old Dazzling Gem, who is scheduled to make his next start in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 19 at Oaklawn. The Rebel is the final major local prep for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16.
Cox is scheduled to send out Twirling Cinnamon, a 3-year-old Twirling Candy colt purchased for $180,000 at the 2014 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, for his local debut in Saturday’s fourth race, a second-level allowance/optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles. He is coming off a victory in the $50,000 Space City Jan. 30 at Sam Houston Race Park, the first stakes triumph in the Cox/Landers partnership.
“He wants good horses, there’s no doubt,” Cox said. “He’s like everybody. He wants to win races, but, obviously, he’d like to play the high end as well. We’re kind of hoping Dazzling Gem is going to be a nice 3-year-old for us.”
Trainer Ingrid Mason said Wednesday morning “there’s a good possibility” multiple graded stakes Sarah Sis will run in the $300,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 19 at Oaklawn instead of traveling to Florida for the $200,000 Inside Information Stakes (G2) the same day at Gulfstream Park.
“The trip that I planned to Gulfstream, it’s kind of a fiasco trying to get her on a plane,” Mason said.
Mason said if Sarah Sis doesn’t run in the Azeri, she’ll be pointed for the $300,000 Madison Stakes (G1) April 9 at Keeneland. The Madison is the same distance (7 furlongs) as the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) Nov. 5 at Santa Anita, which is Sarah Sis’ year-end objective.
Sarah Sis, in her last start, ran fourth in the $100,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) Feb. 14 at Oaklawn. The Bayakoa and Azeri are both 1 1/16 miles. She won at 1 1/16 miles in last year’s $150,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn.
A Big Factor?
Multiple stakes winner The Pickett Factor is scheduled to make his 2016 local debut in Saturday’s sixth race, an allowance/optional claimer for older horses at a mile.
The Pickett Factor, a 4-year-old Gold Tribute gelding trained by Ralph Irwin, won his career debut at the 2015 Oaklawn meeting. He then went through his allowance conditions at Louisiana Downs before winning the $100,000 Super Derby Prelude Stakes Aug. 8 and running fourth in the $400,000 Super Derby (G2) Sept. 12.
The Pickett Factor closed 2015 with two dominating stakes victories against Louisiana-bred competition, including the $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic Dec. 12 at Fair Grounds. He has bankrolled $298,640 after winning 6 of 8 starts last year.
“We’ve been real blessed to have him,” Irwin said during training hours Thursday morning. “He’s been very good to us.”
The Pickett Factor returns to allowance company after finishing third, beaten 1 ¾ lengths as the 3-5 favorite, in his 4-year-old debut in the $200,000 Premier Night Championship Stakes Feb. 6 at Delta Downs.
“Things didn’t develop the way we wanted them to,” Irwin said. “It was somewhat of a rough trip.”
The Pickett Factor is scheduled to break from post 6 Saturday under Luis Quinonez and carry equal top weight of 122 pounds. Irwin said Saturday’s race, which also drew the likes of Regally Ready, Texas Bling, The Truth Or Else and Poseidon’s Way, will give him a line on where The Pickett Factor fits in the local older handicap division.
“If he runs where he shows he can compete with the Oaklawn stock, then we’d like to run him here,” Irwin said.
Irwin trains The Pickett Factor for longtime client Melissa Cantacuzene.
Probable post time Saturday’s sixth race is 3:39 p.m. (Central).
Ivan Fallunovalot to Withdraw from Hot Springs
Multiple stakes winner Ivan Fallunovalot was among seven older sprinters entered in the $100,000 Hot Springs Stakes Saturday afternoon at Oaklawn, but the decision was made that he would not race after watching him train Thursday morning.
The gelding is battling a quarter-crack in his left front foot and trainer Tom Howard of Hot Springs said he was not happy with how it was holding together. It was decided the best course of action was to scratch and point toward the $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 10.
Ivan Fallunovalot, installed as the 7-5 morning line favorite, was scheduled to break from post 3 under regular rider Calvin Borel and carry equal top weight of 122 pounds.
Also entered Saturday were defending Count Fleet winner Alsvid, multiple stakes winner Hebbronville and Subtle Indian, a sharp two-time allowance winner at the meeting. Subtle Indian won the $100,000 Gazebo Stakes last year at Oaklawn.
Racing begins Saturday at 1:05 p.m.
Oaklawn’s surface was rated good for workouts Thursday morning. It was initially sealed, but harrowed during the renovation break. The track was rated fast to begin Thursday’s nine-race program. … Multiple stakes winner Cabana worked a half-mile in :48.40 after the break Thursday morning at Oaklawn for trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel. … Trainer Al Cates of Hot Springs said We Be Stormin and Mallard’s Bro, third and fifth, respectively, in Sunday’s $100,000 Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes at Oaklawn, will be pointed for the $100,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes (open division) at 1 1/16 miles April 1 at Oaklawn. Mallard’s Bro won the Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes (open division) in 2014. … Trainer Ingrid Mason said Bumpy Cat, runner-up in the 6-furlong Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes, will be pointed for a conditioned allowance sprint.
Source: Oaklawn Park