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Horse of the meet: Bodemeister – Even though he only ran once at Oaklawn, the Dudes just can’t deny him this award. His Arkansas Derby win was the most impressive we’ve seen since Curlin. Alternation was a very close second for this award, but Bodemeister could end up being the best three-year old to come around in quite some time.
Older Male of the Meet: Alternation – No debating this one! Alternation won all three stakes he ran in at Oaklawn, including the feature event for older horses at the meet: The Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap. He’s stamped himself as a legit contender in the older Handicap division.
Older Female of the Meet: Absinthe Minded – Even though Plum Pretty won the Apple Blossom, this award goes to Absinthe Minded. She ran four times at Oaklawn this year, winning twice and finishing second in the Apple Blossom. Her four solid performances gave her the ever so slight edge over Plum Pretty’s one big run.
3 Year Old Male of the Meet: Bodemeister – No debating this one either, Bodemeister’s performance in the Arkansas Derby made him one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby. Another three-year old star was born last Saturday at Oaklawn. Can he follow in the foot steps of Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex, Lawyer Ron, Curlin, and Rachel Alexandra?
3 Year Old Female of the Meet: On Fire Baby – Even though we only got to see her twice, there is no doubting she was the best three-year old filly at Oaklawn this season. While The Racing Dudes did not agree with the decision to hold her out to the Fantasy, we won’t hold it against the horse.
Sprinter of the Meet: Outta Tune – From $5,000 claimer to Grade three winner…Outta Tune is the feel good story of the meet. He went 4 for 4 here, and improved his final time with each race. His win in the Grade 3 Count Fleet on Saturday was amazing considering how low he had dropped at one time.
Flop of the Meet: D Wayne Lukas – After winning the trainer title last year at Oaklawn, Lukas struggled horribly this year winning only seven races. For the second straight year it looks as though he won’t have a starter in the Kentucky Derby as well. Optimizer, his best three-year old, flopped in the Arkansas Derby after showing promise in the Rebel.
Trainer of the Meet: Jamie Ness (Cory Jensen) – While Steve Asmussen won the trainers title for most wins, the barn of Jamie Ness won at a 31% rate this year and gets my vote for trainer of the meet. Ness does not come to Oaklawn, but his assistant Cory Jensen does a solid job. After starting off slow, Jensen closed with a nice run with horses such as Easton Jack and Ask Eddy. Look for him at Delaware Park next, and Presque Ilse Downs later in the summer.
Jockey of the Meet: Cliff Berry – Cliff Berry won the jockey title for the second straight year, this time holding off Terry Thompson by four wins. Berry will now look to repeat as the Lone Star jockey champ, as well as the Remington jockey champ later in the summer.
Farrier of the Meet: Kelby Von Hemel – This soon to be 21-year-old prodigy is the king of the farrier’s. He shoes horses like J.J. Redick shoots three pointers! I asked a random trainer about Kelby one time, and here is what he had to say: “Kelby is like Tim Tebow. All he has to do is touch the horse’s leg and they are automatically faster. I’ve never seen anything like it!” When Alternation won the Oaklawn Handicap last Saturday the Racing Dudes just smiled at each other. We knew what had happened, the field had just been “Kelbowed!”
Owner of the Meet: Little River Racing AKA Jeremy Stone – Although Midwest Thoroughbreds ran away with the owners title, the Dudes went outside the box with this selection. Little River Racing owned one horse this year; One More Week. He won a $5,000 claimer and finished 2nd in two others, but that doesn’t tell the full story. Stone swoops through the back stretch each morning very early looking for info. He gives tours of the Donnie K Von Hemel barn for free, and has been known to eat at the track kitchen every morning. When his horse was claimed in early March, did that stop him…sure didn’t. He owns horses like Bobby Petrino rocks a neck brace….Amazingly! He’s quite simply the most interesting horse owner in the world. Stone says, “I don’t always own race horses….but when I do, I prefer fast ones.”
Honorable Mentions: Secret Circle, Plum Pretty, Tiz Miz Sue, Color Me Blue, Gleaming, Aime’s Dini, Scatman, Sabercat
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