June 24, 2024

Oaklawn Park Notebook

Last updated: 3/30/05 5:55 PM


OAKLAWN NOTEBOOK

MARCH 31, 2005

by Mark Weatherton

It was a short week with no racing on Easter Sunday. Saturday’s Hot Springs
S. was run on a sloppy track resulting from heavy, sometimes near torrential
rain, that fell throughout the day. The $50,000 sprint for older horses drew
five entrants and was essentially a rematch of the King Cotton S., where all five
horses finished within two lengths of each other.

Deputy Storm (Forestry), who won the King Cotton by a head, was the only one
who had not run since that race and was sent off as the post-time favorite. Each
starter in the Hot Springs owned at least one win over an off track and all had
more than one century-topping BRIS Speed figure to their credit, so the race
came up very well-matched with the longest price on the board being 9-2.

The speedy colts Deputy Storm and Wildcat Shoes (Forest Wildcat) broke on top
and dueled through fractions of :22 and :45 2/5. Wildcat Shoes took a bad
step entering the turn and fell back a couple of lengths before regrouping and
coming back to the leader, but the expenditure of extra energy probably cost him
in the end. As they raced to the five-eighths marker the field tightened up and
for a brief time it appeared that it was anyone’s race to win. 

THAT TAT (Faltaat) got a head in front and but could not separate as Level
Playingfield (Level Sands) closed and those two battled to the wire with That
Tat prevailing by a neck. Engineered (Langfuhr) finished just behind the top
pair, a half-length better than Wildcat Shoes. Deputy Storm faded in the last
sixteenth to fifth.

There is a new leader among the jockeys. Luis Quinonez, with 35 victories,
has taken a one-win lead over Calvin Borel, Roman Chapa and Jamie    
Theriot. Quinonez booted home nine winners over the four-day week to move from
fifth to first in this tightly packed race. In other rider news, Willie Martinez
has moved his gear to Kentucky and Theriot, after losing an appeal to the review
board, has filed an appeal in the courts, challenging his seven-day suspension
for careless riding. The suspension is on hold awaiting a judge’s ruling.

Cole Norman tightened the cinch around the trainer’s title as he continues to
pull away from his nearest rivals. He now has amassed 49 firsts, tripling the 16
wins for Bob Holthus and Steve Asmussen, who both currently reside in second.

HORSES TO WATCH

Wednesday (3/23)

9TH – VAZANDAR (Demidoff) returned to the races after a six-month layoff in
a tough spot chasing some in-form and very fast colts.  The Minnesota
bred brought an excellent in-the-money record (11  4-3-3) to the race and even
though he missed the money here, the four-year-old looked sharp before fading
at the end. He should move forward off this effort for the Mac Robertson barn.

Thursday (3/24)

3RD – HUMBLE LANE (Humble Eleven) destroyed  a group of bottom level
state-bred claimers by almost 10 lengths. The Jim Danaher filly, who has shown
promise in the past, stopped the clock in 1:11 4/5 seconds. Watch for her on the
rise.

Friday (3/25)

9TH – SEMAPHORE MAN (Formal Gold) was a huge winner at first asking and then
disappointed when trying two turns. He came back with another big effort when
cutting back to six furlongs here, showing sudden acceleration in the stretch
that carried him to a two-length lead. In his second career start, he blew the
first turn and came up empty, but trainer Kelly Von Hemel will likely stretch
him out again. You may get a price on the stretch out.