From the Oaklawn Park Media Team:
California-based Trainers Looking to Build on 2020 Oaklawn Success
Southern California-based trainers flourished last year at Oaklawn, with two finishing in the top 10 in the standings.
Horses for John Sadler were scheduled to arrive Sunday in advance of the 57-day meeting that is scheduled to begin Friday. Sadler, in his Oaklawn debut, won 15 races in 2020 to finish fifth. Horses for another Southern California-based trainer, Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, have been on the grounds since late December under the direction of his longtime assistant, Dan Ward. Hollendorfer wintered at Oaklawn for the first time in 2020 and recorded 12 victories to finish eighth in the standings.
“We finished good,” Ward said Sunday morning. “We were in the top 10. We ran a lot of horses and we stayed safe and finished up good.”
Hollendorfer has more horsepower this year, roughly 40 head, including several holdovers from the 2020 meeting and seven for a high-profile new client, Frank Stronach.
A 2008 Eclipse Award winner as the country’s outstanding owner, Stronach has campaigned, among others, 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper, champions Ginger Punch, Perfect Sting and Macho Uno, Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Awesome Again and Preakness winner Red Bullet. Stronach also campaigned Spun Sugar, winner of the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) for older fillies and mares in 2006 at Oaklawn.
Stronach’s 2021 Oaklawn contingent is headed by Green Light Go, who won the $200,000 Saratoga Special Stakes (G2) for 2-year-olds in 2019 at Saratoga when with trainer Jimmy Jerkens. Unraced since mid-May, Green Light Go has recorded two workouts at Oaklawn, the last a 5-furlong move from the gate in 1:00.20 Wednesday.
“He’s coming along good,” Ward said.
Sunny Dale, a three-time winner last year at Oaklawn, has also recorded two local works in advance of her 5-year-old debut. The well-traveled Sunny Dale ran fifth in the $125,000 Carousel Stakes for older female sprinters last April at Oaklawn and completed her 2020 campaign with a fifth-place finish in the $80,000 Floral Park Stakes Oct. 17 at Belmont Park.
“We freshened her up a little bit and she’s doing good,” Ward said.
Another 2020 Oaklawn winner, Awesome Anywhere, could resurface late in the meeting, Ward said. Awesome Anywhere ran 6 furlongs in 1:08.76 to capture a starter-allowance race last March at Oaklawn and closed 2020 with a runner-up finish in the $100,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes Sept. 12 at Monmouth Park.
Hollendorfer entered seven horses for the first two days of racing, including Causeway Jones in an entry-level allowance sprint for 3-year-olds Saturday. Hollendorfer and two partners privately purchased the Creative Cause colt following a 7 ½-length debut victory Dec. 18 at Remington Park. Causeway Jones also has two published works at Oaklawn.
“We noticed last year that we started running better once we worked a couple of times over the track,” Ward said. “We got here like (Jan. 16) and a lot of starters didn’t even have a work over the track. We got here earlier and have gotten two or three breezes over the track – most of them – and I think that will help.”
Hollendorfer has 18 career victories at Oaklawn, including four stakes (all graded). The stakes victories include Blind Luck in the $300,000 Fantasy Stakes (G2) in 2010. Blind Luck was named the country’s champion 3-year-old filly of 2010.
Southern California-based trainers Phil D’Amato and Peter Miller also have horses on the grounds in advance of the 2021 meet. They each won five races last year at Oaklawn.
Oaklawn’s 2020 Eclipse Awards finalists (listed in bold)
HORSE OF THE YEAR: Authentic, Improbable, Monomoy Girl
THREE-YEAR-OLD MALE: Authentic, Nadal, Tiz the Law
THREE-YEAR-OLD FILLY: Gamine, Shedaresthedevil, Swiss Skydiver
OLDER DIRT MALE: Improbable, Maximum Security, Vekoma
OLDER DIRT FEMALE: Midnight Bisou, Monomoy Girl, Serengeti Empress
MALE SPRINTER: Vekoma, Volatile, Whitmore
FEMALE SPRINTER: Gamine, Glass Slippers (GB), Serengeti Empress
TRAINER: Steve Asmussen, Bob Baffert, Brad Cox
Votes Are in
Nine Oaklawn-raced horses and the second- and third-leading trainers from last year’s meet were announced Saturday as 2020 Eclipse Awards finalists. Winners in 17 horse and human categories will be revealed during the 50th annual Eclipse Awards ceremony Jan. 28.
Oaklawn is represented by all three finalists in the 3-year-old filly division – Swiss Skydiver, Shedaresthedevil and Gamine.
Swiss Skydiver won the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3), Oaklawn’s biggest race for 3-year-old fillies, last May. Shedaresthedevil finished third in the Fantasy after winning the $300,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) last March at Oaklawn. Shedaresthedevil, co-owned by Staton Flurry of Hot Springs, won the $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1), the nation’s biggest race for 3-year-old fillies, Sept. 4 at Churchill Downs. Gamine crossed the finish line first in the fastest 1 1/16-mile race of last year’s Oaklawn meeting (1:41.91), an entry-level allowance the day after the Fantasy.
Gamine returned to win three Grade 1 events and is also a finalist for champion female sprinter. Serengeti Empress, who won Oaklawn’s $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) last March, is a finalist for champion female sprinter and champion older dirt female. Another finalist for champion older dirt female is Midnight Bisou, who won the Azeri and Oaklawn’s $750,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) in 2019.
Whitmore, winner of the $350,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) and $150,000 Hot Springs Stakes last year at Oaklawn, is a finalist for champion male sprinter. Whitmore, co-owned and trained by Ron Moquett of Hot Springs, won the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) Nov. 7 at Keeneland in his last start. Volatile, who ran the fastest 6 furlongs of the 2020 Oaklawn meeting (1:08.48) in an allowance romp last April, is another finalist for champion male sprinter.
Unbeaten Nadal is a finalist for champion 3-year-old male after winning the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) and the second division of the $500,000 Arkansas Derby (G1) last year at Oaklawn.
Improbable, runner-up in the $150,000 Oaklawn Mile last April, is a finalist Horse of the Year and champion older dirt male.
Hall of Famer and 10-time Oaklawn champion Steve Asmussen is a finalist for outstanding trainer. Asmussen recorded 49 victories to finish second in last year’s Oaklawn standings. Brad Cox, another finalist for outstanding trainer, won 26 races to finish third in the 2020 Oaklawn standings.
The finalists in each category were determined by the top three selections of eligible voters from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB) on a 10-5-1 point basis. Eclipse Award winners are determined solely by first-place votes.
Horses for south Florida-based trainer Saffie Joseph are scheduled to arrive Monday. Joseph’s Moonlite Strike is entered in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes for 3-year-olds Friday (opening day) at Oaklawn. … Dean Martini, winner of the $500,000 Ohio Derby (G3) last June at Thistledown, worked a half-mile in :49.20 over a fast track Saturday morning at Oaklawn. Trainer Tom Amoss said Dean Martini could make his 4-year-old debut in an allowance race early in the Oaklawn meeting. … Two starters from the $350,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) for older sprinters last April at Oaklawn were stakes winners Saturday. Manny Wah ($27.60) won the $100,000 Duncan F. Kenner on the turf at Fair Grounds. Wendell Fong ($15.20) won the $100,000 Fire Plug at Laurel. Manny Wah and Wendall Fong ran third and fifth, respectively, in the Count Fleet. Whitmore, the Count Fleet winner, returned to win the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) Nov. 7 at Keeneland. …. Oaklawn-raced horses have won more than 155 stakes races since the 2020 meeting ended May 2.