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HOT SPRINGS, AR – Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen’s undefeated Jaxon Traveler makes his seasonal debut while racing outside the state of Maryland for the first time in Saturday’s $150,000 Gazebo Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
The Gazebo is a 6-furlong dirt sprint restricted to 3-year-olds. This year’s edition is the penultimate event on an 11-race card and has a local post time of 5:52 PM.
Here’s a look at the full field for the Gazebo:
1. Sir Wellington 7/2 – He finished a solid second against first-level allowance rivals while going this distance in his local debut on January 23. He earned a career-best 79 Beyer Speed Figure that day, 1 start after beating fellow Louisiana-breds in a small stakes over a muddy (sealed) Fair Grounds main track. He’ll team up for the first time with Alex Canchari, who has an 11-3-0-1 riding record (through Tuesday).
“He runs good all the time,” said Mac Robertson, who trains Sir Wellington for Extreme Racing Stables. “I thought he ran a good race last time. A couple of Asmussen’s look a little better on paper, but we’ll see how we do.”
2. Dusty Hill 8/1 – He steps up to the big leagues after breaking his maiden over this course and distance by 12 1/4 lengths while springing a 41/1 upset against fellow Arkansas-breds. The waters get much deeper here, but he reunites with jockey Terry Thompson after their success together last month and is proven under these circumstances. Trainer Tim Dixon repeats at 13% with last-out winners.
3. Lock Up 10/1 – He gives stakes action a try despite failing to hit the board in either start over this course and distance, including 2 starts back when he finished seventh behind runner-up Sir Wellington. The D. Wayne Lukas trainee will likely challenge for the early pace and try to take them all the way around, just as he did 3 starts back when he wired a field of maidens going 5 1/2 furlongs at Churchill Downs.
4. Jaxon Traveler 5/2 – He looked unstoppable in 2020, winning all 3 starts including the Maryland Juvenile Futurity Stakes against state-bred rivals going 7 furlongs at Laurel Park. The fleet-footed son of elite sprint stallion Munnings should challenge the rival to his inside for the lead early; he led at each point of call in every start last year. Asmussen connects at 19% with runners returning from similar layoffs.
5. Game Day Play 3/1 – He steps back up to the stakes ranks after finishing second by a neck in a sloppy off-turf 5 1/2-furlong Fair Grounds sprint against optional claimers last month. He won last October’s Clever Trevor Stakes at Remington Park but misfired in the 1 1/16-mile Lecomte Stakes (G3), which may have just been too long for him (though it was also his only start without race-day Lasix).
6. Cazadero 9/5 – Asmussen’s second entry kicked off his career early, winning by daylight in 2 straight Churchill Downs dirt sprints last May and June including the Bashford Manor Stakes (G3). He’s worked steadily for over three months as he makes his first start since most recenty finishing fifth in the Saratoga Special Stakes (G2) last August, and the barn’s first-call jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. rides.
“Cazadero showed a lot of promise,” Santana Jr. said. “So glad to be back on him.”
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