HOT SPRINGS, AR – Steve Asmussen sent a total of nine horses – including seven 3-year-olds – out for timed works on Monday morning at Oaklawn Park as the Hall of Fame conditioner attempts to gain ground in the track’s training standings over the final two weeks of the meet.
Leading the way for Asmussen were Echo Town and Little Menace, who are both possible for this coming Saturday’s $100,000 Bachelor Stakes, a 6-furlong sprint restricted to 3-year-olds. Echo Town covered the distance in :37.00, while clockers caught Little Menace – who was most recently second in the 6-furlong Gazebo Stakes here on March 21 – in :37.60.
A quartet of graded stakes winners also strutted their stuff for Asmussen. The Hopeful Stakes (G1) champion Basin went 5 furlongs in 1:00.80 with Shoplifted, who was second in the Hopeful before later taking the Remington Springboard Mile Stakes. Both are possible for the $750,000 Arkansas Derby (G1) on May 2, which may be split into divisions due to the overwhelming number of nominations (99).
As it currently stands, the Arkansas Derby awards a total of 170 Kentucky Derby (G1) Trail points to the top four finishers: 100 to the winner, 40 to second, 20 to third, and 10 to fourth. If the Arkansas Derby is split and each race’s purse is lowered below $750,000, then the points will be reduced accordingly.
Rotation, winner of last fall’s Super Derby (G3), was just a tick behind them, completing 5 furlongs in 1:01.00, the same as 3-year-old filly Comical. The winner of last year’s Schuylerville Stakes (G3) (while with former trainer Doug O’Neill), Comical is possible for the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) on May 1, which awards Kentucky Oaks (G1) points to the top four finishers on a 100-40-20-10 basis.
Asmussen, who has been the track’s leading trainer in 10 of the past 13 years, is currently second with 40 wins from 280 starters and has earned $3,535,451 in purses, most among trainers. Robertino Diodoro is tops with 49 wins from 205 horses to make the gate and has bankrolled $1,930,804.
Two other stakes-winning fillies made the rounds on Monday morning when Maryanorginger and Critical Value each went 4 furlongs in :48.20 for trainer Jeremiah Englehart. Maryanorginger won her debut in last June’s Astoria Stakes but did not return to the starting gate until April 4, when she was ninth here against allowance foes.
Critical Value, a Ten Strike Racing homebred daughter of Bodemeister, captured the Maid of the Mist Stakes against fellow New York-breds on October 19. She has been unraced since finishing fourth in December’s Demoiselle Stakes (G2).