(Trainer Mark Casse will saddle Lynn’s Map in Friday’s Smarty Jones Stakes / Photo Courtesy of Keeneland)
From the Oaklawn Media Team:
Mark Casse had the Midas touch last year in Triple Crown races/preps, and the trainer will try to add to that success when he sends out lightly raced Lynn’s Map in Friday’s $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes at 1 mile, Oaklawn’s first of four Kentucky Derby points races.
Lynn’s Map was scheduled to make his stakes debut in the $200,000 Lecomte Stakes (G3) last Saturday at Fair Grounds, but he was scratched after drawing a far outside post position, 14, for the 1 1/16-mile race. Casse won the race anyway with Enforceable, continuing a torrid stretch for the trainer with recent 3-year-old prospects. Casse won last year’s Lecomte and $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds with War of Will, who later captured the Preakness, the second leg of racing’s Triple Crown. Casse also won the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, with Sir Winston.
“It’s a little early yet,” Casse said Tuesday morning, outlining his 2020 Triple Crown outlook. “I don’t want to get too crazy.”
Lynn’s Map, who is from the first crop of multiple Grade 1 winner and millionaire Liam’s Map, has won 2 of 3 starts overall, including an entry-level allowance score by a head Dec. 21 at Fair Grounds. Runner-up in that 1-mile 70-yard race was Mr. Monomoy, who returned to run third, beaten 1 ¾ lengths by Enforceable, in the Lecomte. Owned by HRH Prince Sultan Bin Mishal Al Saud, Lynn’s Map was purchased last April for $285,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s spring sale of 2-year-olds in training.
“He’s beautiful,” Casse said. “We got him, I want to say, a couple of months after they bought him. I think they gave him a little time and from the beginning he’s always shown that he’s pretty good. I think his last race was an exceptionally good race. He’s a beautiful horse.”
Lynn’s Map is scheduled to break from post 8 under Miguel Mena, who will be riding the colt for the first time Friday. Lynn’s Map was ridden in his Sept. 29 career debut at Churchill Downs by Adam Beschizza, his Nov. 8 maiden victory at Churchill Downs by Tyler Gaffalione and last month by Corey Lanerie.
“Our original plan was to run at the Fair Grounds,” Casse said. “Then we draw a bad post and I said, ‘Well, we’ll look at Oaklawn.’ By then, it was just tough … but I’ve had wonderful luck with Miguel. He won the Stephen Foster for me, he won the Kentucky Downs Juvenile, the ‘Win and You’re In’ Bourbon. He rode for me in the Breeders’ Cup, so I’m not worried about that. That’s the least of my worries.”
The Fair Grounds-based Mena has two career stakes victories at Oaklawn – $50,000 Dixieland for 3-year-olds sprinters in 2009 aboard Silver City for trainer Bret Calhoun and the $75,000 Carousel for older female sprinters in 2012 aboard Beat the Blues for Calhoun. Casse has three career Oaklawn stakes victories, including the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) in 2017 with champion Classic Empire. Casse captured two stakes races for 3-year-old fillies last year in Hot Springs – $125,000 Martha Washington with Power Gal and the $200,000 Honeybee (G3) with Chocolate Kisses.
The Smarty Jones will offer 17 points to the top four finishers (10-4-2-1) toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby. Oaklawn’s Kentucky Derby points series continues with the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 17, $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) March 14 and the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 11.
The projected Smarty Jones field from the rail out: Lykan, Terry Thompson to ride, 115 pounds, 20-1 on the morning line; Silver Prospector, Ricardo Santana Jr., 119, 5-2; Shared Sense, Florent Geroux, 115, 12-1; Nucky, Joe Talamo, 119, 10-1; Jungle Runner, Ramon Vazquez, 119, 20-1; Gold Street, Martin Garcia, 119, 5-1; Shoplifted, Tyler Gaffalione, 119, 3-1; Lynn’s Map, Miguel Mena, 117, 6-1; and Three Technique, Irad Ortiz Jr., 119, 9-2.
Silver Prospector, Jungle Runner, Gold Street and Shoplifted are trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, a 10-time Oaklawn training champion who is seeking his first Smarty Jones victory.
The Smarty Jones will go as the eighth race on the nine-race opening-day program, with probable post time 3:52 p.m. (Central). Racing begins at 12:35 p.m.
Lykan to Represent Mason in Smarty Jones
Another horse from trainer Ingrid Mason’s go-to sale is headed for a stakes race at Oaklawn, this time in the $150,000 Smarty Jones for 3-year-olds Jan. 24.
Lykan, purchased for $15,000 at the 2019 Ocala Breeders’ Sales June 2-Year-Olds and Horses of Racing Age Sale, will be making his stakes and two-turn debut in the 1-mile Smarty Jones, Oaklawn’s first of four Kentucky Derby points races.
Mason has already struck gold with two other modest 2-year-old purchases from the same sale in Sarah Sis and Marquee Miss, both campaigned by Oklahoma owner Joe Ragsdale. On the advice of Mason, Ragsdale purchased Sarah Sis for $20,000 in 2014 and Marquee Miss for $20,000 in 2015.
Sarah Sis was a six-time stakes winner, including Oaklawn’s $150,000 Honeybee (G3) for 3-year-old fillies in 2015, and earned $912,667 before selling for $750,000 as a broodmare prospect at Fasig-Tipton’s Kentucky Mixed Sale in 2016. Marquee Miss was a five-time stakes winner, including the $100,000 Dixie Belle and $100,000 Martha Washington for 3-year-old fillies in 2016 at Oaklawn. The half-sister to Grade 1 winner Promises Fulfilled earned $373,516 before selling for $750,000 at the 2018 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.
“It’s been good to me, that sale, for whatever reason,” Mason said during training hours Saturday morning. “It’s interesting that probably my best horses were bought on the fly. He’s a horse I looked at, but really didn’t mark him down. But then when I watched him walk over, I just really liked him. There was something about him that just caught my eye and the fact that he had such a good mind. You can learn a lot about them when you watch them walk through the sale – all the noise and stuff and how they react to it. I just like the way he acted. He acted like a good horse.”
Mason co-owns Lykan with significant other Mike Waters, who races under the Muddy Waters Stables LLC banner. Bred in Kentucky by Richard Holder, Lykan, a son of Congrats, has a 1-0-3 record from seven lifetime starts and earnings of $59,175. After beginning his racing career on Arlington Park’s synthetic surface, Lykan broke his maiden in his 6-furlong dirt debut Oct. 4 at Keeneland.
“He seems to be handling the track really well here, so that’s why we decided to give him a shot at it,” Mason said of the Smarty Jones. “I don’t know all about the distance with him, but he acts like he can go that far. I know he’s got an on and off switch, which is good with a horse like that and nothing seems to bother him.”
A Gray Attempt
Multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Gray Attempt is scheduled to make his 4-year-old debut in Friday’s seventh race for trainer Jinks Fires of Hot Springs and owner Dwight Pruett of Texarkana, Ark. The 6-furlong conditioned allowance event will mark Gray Attempt’s first start since concluding his 3-year-old campaign with a sixth-place finish in the $75,000 Bonapaw Stakes Dec. 21 at Fair Grounds.
Fires attributed Gray Attempt’s poor performance to a sloppy track and facing older horses for just the second time in his 10-race career.
“He went from minor league to major league,” Fires said during training hours Saturday morning. “A 7-year-old won it, a 7-year-old was second, a 3-year-old was third and a 6-year-old was fourth. It was kind of like running a 12-year-old against a 16-year-old or 18-year-old.”
Gray Attempt has recorded two bullet works at Oaklawn since the Bonapaw, including a half-mile move in :47.60 Friday morning. Gray Attempt was among Oaklawn’s leading 3-year-olds last year after winning the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes and $125,000 Gazebo Stakes.