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Dazzling Gem will be entered in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) Saturday at Oaklawn and is probable for the 1 1/8-mile race, trainer Brad Cox said Sunday morning.
Cox said the decision to enter Dazzling Gem was made following the lightly raced colt’s half-mile work Saturday morning at Oaklawn, and the results of three high-profile Kentucky Derby prep races later in the day, including the $1 million Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct.
A maiden, Trojan Nation, finished second in the Wood at odds of 81-1 to earn 40 points toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby. If more than 20 enter the Kentucky Derby, starting preference is given to horses with the highest points accumulated in the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” race series.
Dazzling Gem, owned by prominent Arkansas automobile dealer Steve Landers, has 20 points – all coming from a third-place finish in the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G3) March 26 at Fair Grounds – to rank 26th.
“We went from 14th to 25th or 26th on the list,” Cox said. “If we want to run in the Derby, we need to earn a spot – not just fall into it. He’s doing good; obviously, worked well. We wanted to see that before we decided where we were going to go.”
Dazzling Gem worked a half-mile in :49.40 Saturday morning at Oaklawn.
In addition to the Arkansas Derby, Dazzling Gem had been under consideration for Saturday’s $150,000 Lexington Stakes (G3) at Keeneland and Saturday’s $150,000 Northern Spur Stakes at Oaklawn. The Lexington offers 10 points to the winner. The Northern Spur is not part of the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series.
Like the Louisiana Derby, the Arkansas Derby offers 170 points to the top four finishers, with 100 awarded to the winner. Second, third and fourth are worth 40, 20 and 10, respectively.
Before running third in the Louisiana Derby, Dazzling Gem won his first two career starts at Oaklawn, including a Feb. 13 entry-level allowance.
The Misremembered colt will likely need a new jockey for the Arkansas Derby, Cox said, because Shaun Bridgmohan has the call on Synchrony for the Lexington. Bridgmohan has ridden Dazzling Gem in all three lifetime starts.
“We’ve kind of got a couple of people lined up that we’re talking to,” Cox said. “Probably going to finalize something in a day or two.”
The addition of Dazzling Gem pushes the probable Arkansas Derby field to 11.
Two scheduled starters, Gray Sky and Luna de Loco, recorded half-mile works over a fast track Sunday at Oaklawn. Gray Sky went in :50 for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Luna de Loco went in :49 for six-time Oaklawn training champion Steve Asmussen.
Other scheduled Arkansas Derby starters are American Pioneer, Creator, Cupid, Discreetness, Gettysburg, Suddenbreakingnews, Unbridled Outlaw and Whitmore. Cutacorner and Tisdale remain under consideration for the Arkansas Derby.
The Southern California-based Cupid won the final major local prep for the Arkansas Derby – $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 19 – and is scheduled to be flown Wednesday to Arkansas.Cupid will try to give Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his third Arkansas Derby victory since 2012. The trainer won last year’s Arkansas Derby with Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
Gettysburg is scheduled to be flown Monday to Arkansas for trainer Todd Pletcher, who won the Arkansas Derby in 2000 with Graeme Hall, 2001 with Balto Star, 2013 with Overanalyze and 2014 with Danza.
The top locally based hopes include Southwest winner Suddenbreakingnews and Whitmore, runner-up in the Southwest and Rebel. Discreetness won the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 18 at Oaklawn.
Post positions for the Arkansas Derby and $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) will be drawn at 12:15 p.m. (Central) Wednesday on the first floor near the information booth. The event is open to the public.
The Arkansas Derby highlights a 12-race card on Oaklawn’s closing-day program.
Effinex has been assigned top weight of 121 pounds for Saturday’s $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) at Oaklawn. Trained by Jimmy Jerkins, he is scheduled to arrive Monday at Oaklawn following a flight originating in New York.
Effinex finished second to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) Oct. 31 at Keeneland before winning the $500,000 Clark Handicap (G1) Nov. 27 at Churchill Downs.
The 5-year-old Mineshaft horse is coming off a third-place finish behind Melatonin in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap (G1) March 12 at Santa Anita.
Melatonin (119 pounds) is scheduled to arrive at Oaklawn Wednesday following a flight originating in Southern California.
Also assigned 119 pounds is Upstart, who will be returning to Hot Springs after winning the $350,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) March 19, the final major local prep for the Oaklawn Handicap.
Other scheduled starters are Blofeld (116), Carve (115), Domain’s Rap (114), Financial Modeling (113) and Point Piper (113).
Post positions for the Oaklawn Handicap will also be drawn Wednesday.
Champion Untapable worked a half-mile in :50 over a fast track Sunday morning at Oaklawn for trainer Steve Asmussen in advance of Friday’s $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) for older fillies and mares.
Untapable, last year’s Apple Blossom winner, is coming off a runner-up finish in her 2016 debut, the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 19 at Oaklawn. The Azeri is the final major local prep for the Apple Blossom.
Untapable will be the 120-pound starting high weight for the Apple Blossom. Also scheduled to run in the Apple Blossom are Azeri winner Call Pat (119 pounds), Tara’s Tango (119), Include Betty (119), Forever Unbridled (117), Streamline (115) and Theogony (114).
Include Betty won last year’s $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn. Tara’s Tango won the $500,000 Santa Margarita Stakes (G1) March 19 at Santa Anita in her last start. She is scheduled to arrive Wednesday in Hot Springs following a flight originating in Southern California.
Stablemates Terra Promessa and Taxable will be pointed for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) May 6 at Churchill Downs, trainer Steve Asmussen said Sunday morning. The fillies finished first and second, respectively, in the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) Saturday at Oaklawn.
“Both the girls came out of the race in great shape,” Asmussen said. “They’ll both go on to Churchill Monday.”
Terra Promessa, a winner of four consecutive starts, was coming off a runaway victory in the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 12 at Oaklawn, the final major local prep for the Fantasy. Taxable won her first two career starts before being beaten a neck in the Fantasy, which was her stakes debut.
Saturday’s victory was the first in the Fantasy for Asmussen, assured of his seventh Oaklawn training title, his 40th at the meet and 492nd overall in Hot Springs.
Asmussen ($2,386,510) surpassed $2 million in purse earnings at the meet Saturday.
The Fantasy also represented the most lucrative career victory for Ricardo Santana Jr., who is assured of his fourth consecutive Oaklawn riding title. Santana ($3,122,596) surpassed $3 million in purse earnings at the meet with his Fantasy victory.
Multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Marquee Miss is pointing for the $200,000 Eight Belles (G2) for 3-year-old fillies May 6 at Churchill Downs, trainer Ingrid Mason said Saturday morning.Marquee Miss won the $100,000 Dixie Belle Stakes and $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes earlier this year at Oaklawn. … Multiple stakes winner Kiss Moon is fine physically after a last-place finish in an allowance/optional claimer Thursday at Oaklawn, four-time Oaklawn training champion David Vance said Sunday morning. Vance said Kiss Moon will return to turf in a May 20 allowance race at Churchill Downs, then point for the $100,000 Mint Julep Handicap on the grass June 11 at Churchill Downs. Kiss Moon was runner-up in the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) in 2014 at Oaklawn. … Trainer Ralph Irwin said multiple stakes winner, The Pickett Factor, is being freshened after running fifth in a March 5 allowance/optional claimer at Oaklawn. Irwin said next-race plans are pending for The Pickett Factor, a debut winner at the 2015 Oaklawn meeting. … After having a division in Hot Springs the last two years, high-percentage trainer Robertino Diodoro said he plans to return to Oaklawn in 2017. Diodoro’s Oaklawn division, under the direction of Rob Atras, finished 9 of 33 last season and is 20 of 62 this year. “Rob’s done an awesome job,” said Diodoro, Oaklawn’s co-fifth-leading trainer this year. “I’ve got to give him a lot of credit. He’s made the right moves at the claim box, and the support of the owners has definitely helped, too.” Diodoro’s Oaklawn division is headed by Subtle Indian, the 2-1 program favorite for today’s $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) for older horses. Subtle Indian is trying to become the meet’s first four-time winner. … Jockey Jon Court will replace jockey Corey Nakatani on California shipper Cautious Giant in the Count Fleet. Seven older filly and mare sprinters are entered in Thursday’s $150,000 Carousel Stakes at Oaklawn: Dancing Diva, Ghost Locket, Super Saks, Haveyougoneaway, Wrath of Ruthie, Be Proud and Harbour Island.
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