Noble Bird on Target for Comeback Race at Oaklawn
Following a 5-furlong work earlier this week at Oaklawn, trainer Mark Casse said major stakes winner Noble Bird continues to progress toward his first major objective this year, the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 16.
Noble Bird emerged as one of the country’s top older horses following the 2015 Oaklawn meeting, finishing second in the $400,000 Alysheba Stakes (G2) and winning the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) at the Churchill Downs spring/summer meet. He is on the comeback trail after exiting a ninth-place finish in the $1.25 million Whitney Stakes (G1) Aug. 8 at Saratoga with a hip injury.
Noble Bird recorded a 5-furlong breeze Thursday morning – his second published move this year – going 1:00.60 in company. The 5-year-old son of Birdstone worked a half-mile in :48.20 Jan. 19 in Florida.
“We thought we would bring him back to Hot Springs because that’s where he got on his roll last year,” said Casse, who has divisions in Arkansas and Florida during the winter. “He seems to like the track.”
Casse said next-race plans are pending for Noble Bird, but Oaklawn’s two remaining major preps for the Oaklawn Handicap are the $100,000 Essex Handicap Feb. 13 and $300,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) March 19. He Bird won an allowance/optional claimer last March at Oaklawn, then another allowance/optional claimer at Keeneland before running second in the Alysheba and winning the Stephen Foster.
Casse said Siding Spring, 10th in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) Oct. 31 at Keeneland, is under consideration for the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 15 at Oaklawn. Siding Spring has had two 5-furlong workouts this month at Oaklawn.
Another 3-year-old prospect, Conquest Windycity, is being pointed for an allowance race at Oaklawn, Casse said. While still a maiden, he ran fourth in the $150,000 Iroquois Stakes (G3) last fall at Churchill Downs. The son of Tiznow worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.80 Monday at Oaklawn.
Ivan the Great
Ivan Fallunovalot emerged in good order from his two-length victory in the $100,000 King Cotton Stakes for older sprinters Saturday at Oaklawn, trainer Tom Howard of Hot Springs said Sunday morning and will now be pointed for the $100,000 Hot Springs Stakes March 5 at Oaklawn.
Ivan Fallunovalot, who won the King Cotton for the second consecutive year, was making his first start since finishing ninth in the $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) Oct. 31 at Keeneland.
Howard said Saturday’s race unfolded perfectly for Ivan Fallunovalot, with Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel keeping the gelding just behind front-runners Lewys Vaporizer and Alsvid through a half-mile in :45.03.
“We didn’t want to get into a speed duel,” Howard said. “Calvin used his head and saved our life.”
Ivan Fallunovalot, 6-year-old Texas-bred son of Valid Expectations, ran 6 furlongs over a fast track in a meet-best 1:09.21.
Ivan Fallunovalot finished second to Gentlemen’s Bet in last year’s Hot Springs. Trainer Ron Moquett said Gentlemen’s Bet will also be pointed for the Hot Springs following his fourth-place finish in the King Cotton, which was also his 2016 debut.
On the Work Tab
Several horses pointing for upcoming Oaklawn stakes breezed on a mostly cloudy, windy Sunday morning.
Cutacorner, in company, breezed 5 furlongs in 1:01 after the break for Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg. Cutacorner, a Jan. 21 first-level allowance/optional claiming winner at Oaklawn, is pointing for the $500,000 Southwest Stakes for 3-year-olds Feb. 15.
Durango worked a half-mile in :47.60 after the break for trainer Randy Morse. Durango is scheduled to run in Saturday’s $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.
Also working after the break for Morse was multiple stakes winner Cougar Ridge, who breezed a half-mile in :48.20 in preparation for the $100,000 Essex Handicap Feb. 13.
Super Saks worked a half-mile in :48.40 before the break for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who is pointing the 4-year-old filly for the $100,000 Spring Fever Stakes Feb. 20.
Trainer/co-owner Ron Moquett of Hot Springs said Whitmore looks good physically following Saturday’s 5-furlong work at Oaklawn and continues to target the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 15. Moquett said he will confer with co-owners Harry Rosenblum and Robert LaPenta before giving Whitmore the green light for the Southwest, a major local prep for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16. … Trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel said he will probably work Suddenbreakingnews Monday morning in preparation for the Southwest. … Sebastian Saez rode two winners Saturday at Oaklawn, the first representing his 40th career victory and reducing his apprentice weight allowance from seven pounds to five pounds. Saez, the younger brother of nationally prominent jockey Luis Saez and the late Juan Saez, who was also a jockey, is riding at Oaklawn for the first time this year. According to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization, Saez has 41 victories and $890,471 in career earnings since launching his career last year. He has three victories at this year’s Oaklawn meet. … Multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Brewing worked a half-mile in :48.80 after the break Sunday morning for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. … Ramon Vazquez will ride Red Fern Doll in Saturday’s $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Oaklawn, according to the jockey’s agent, Ruben Munoz. The mile race is expected to be headed by Grade 1 winner Nickname, fourth in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) Oct. 31 at Keeneland in her last start.
Source: Oaklawn Park