(Dash Attack / Coady Photography & Courtesy of Oaklawn Park)
Dash Attack Preparing for First Works Since Smarty Jones Win
Oaklawn-based Dash Attack is scheduled to return to the work tab this weekend and being pointed to the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds Jan. 29, the unbeaten colt’s trainer, Kenny McPeek, said Wednesday afternoon.
Dash Attack won the $250,000 Smarty Jones Stakes New Year’s Day to go 2 for 2 overall and at the 2021-2022 Oaklawn meeting that began Dec. 3. The 1-mile Smarty Jones was Oaklawn’s first of four Kentucky Derby points races. The 1 1/16-mile Southwest is the second.
“Pretty basic stuff right now,” McPeek said. “He’s in a nice rhythm. Came out of the race good and is galloping. All systems go.”
McPeek said he’s planning “a little easy” half-mile workout this weekend, which will be the first published move for Dash Attack since Dec. 27.
“Probably Saturday or Sunday, depending on the weather,” McPeek said. “As long as the racetrack’s decent.”
McPeek said he plans to come back with “something a little stronger” next week. Dash Attack, a son of Munnings, won his career debut at 1 mile Dec. 5.
Smarty Jones runner-up Barber Road remains on track for a rematch with Dash Attack in the Southwest, trainer John Ortiz said Tuesday afternoon. Barber Road was beaten two lengths after racing farther off the pace than expected and being caught in some traffic on the second turn.
“He came out of his race in the best shape I’ve ever seen him in,” said Ortiz, who trains Barber Road for former Walmart executive William Simon. “He acts like he’s a winner. I love that. He doesn’t realize that the race was won at the sixteenth pole. He tried his best to get in front at the wire, the real wire. He really thinks he won. He’s proud. He walks around like he’s pumped up. You see that confidence in that horse in the morning. He’s training a lot more professionally. His mindset is right where I want him to be – focused, competitive – in the mornings. He doesn’t act like a baby anymore.”
Smarty Jones third-place finisher Ignitis is under consideration for the Southwest, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said. Ignitis, unhurried early, rallied through the short stretch – mile races at Oaklawn begin and end at the sixteenth pole – to finish three lengths behind Dash Attack at odds of 31-1.
“I think he needs some more seasoning,” Lukas said. “He ran a very nice race, finished well, but he hung and was hesitant in traffic. So, he’s got some seasoning to develop yet, but I love the way he finished. He really finished strong.”
Lightly raced Osbourne is pointing for the Southwest, co-owner/trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs said. Osbourne was originally targeting the Smarty Jones before being re-routed to the $400,000 Springboard Mile Dec. 17 at Remington Park, where he finished second.
“I was afraid that the Smarty Jones would be too quick and I’m trying to have a horse that keeps improving as we go at Oaklawn, so I decided to wait for the Southwest,” Moquett said. “He’s been training well and acts like he likes the track. But he ran so good at the Mile that I was kind of thinking about not putting too much pressure on him, back-to-back, like that.”
Osbourne was making his two-turn and stakes debut in the Springboard Mile, which was his third career start. He was beaten a half-length by Make It Big (3 for 3).
“I was tickled to death,” Moquett said.
Osbourne is a gelded son of 2014 Southwest winner Tapiture.
Like the Smarty Jones, the Southwest will offer 17 points to the top four finishes (10-4-2-1) toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby. Post positions for the Southwest will be drawn Jan. 24.
(C Z Rocket / Coady Photography)
Millionaire, multiple graded stakes winner C Z Rocket is scheduled to make his 2022 debut in Friday’s eighth race, which could be a steppingstone to the $150,000 King Cotton Stakes for older sprinters Jan. 29.
C Z Rocket was Oaklawn’s top older male sprinter during the 2021 meeting that ended in May, but the 8-year-old is riding a five-race losing streak. Friday’s 6-furlong allowance race for older horses will mark C Z Rocket’s first start for trainer Rene Amescua, who, like the gelding, was previously based in California.
“He’s doing good and he’s been here for a while now,” Amescua said.
C Z Rocket was entered in a high-end allowance sprint Dec. 18, but he was scratched because of an off track, co-owner Tom Kagele said. C Z Rocket has subsequently recorded three works at Oaklawn, the last a more demanding 5-furlong drill (1:01.20) Jan. 6. Kagele said C Z Rocket was using the Dec. 18 race as a prep for the King Cotton, Oaklawn’s first of three stakes for older sprinters. C Z Rocket was then supposed to return in a Jan. 7 allowance race, but it didn’t fill.
“I think it’s still a possibility,” Amescua said of the King Cotton. “It’s just a matter of how things go. I think the original plan was to run in the other race and then the King Cotton, but sometimes the weather plays a little part here and things have to change a little bit and you have to make whatever adjustments you have to make.”
C Z Rocket was 2 for 2 last season at Oaklawn, toppling reigning male sprint champion Whitmore in the $200,000 Hot Springs Stakes and the $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3). C Z Rocket is winless since and exits a seventh in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) Nov. 6 at Del Mar. But he gets Lasix for the first time since last May’s $400,000 Steve Sexton Mile Stakes (G3) Friday.
C Z Rocket, prior to leaving Southern California, recorded three workouts at San Luis Rey Downs following the Breeders’ Cup. On behalf of Kagele, trainer Peter Miller claimed C Z Rocket for $40,000 out of a fifth-place finish April 30, 2020, at Oaklawn. C Z Rocket then ripped off five consecutive victories, including the $150,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes (G2) at Del Mar and $200,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G2) at Santa Anita, before finishing second to Whitmore in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) in November 2020 at Keeneland.
Miller, who co-owns C Z Rocket, announced shortly after the 2021 Breeders’ Cup that he was taking a sabbatical from training.
Amescua saddled three winners New Year’s Eve. All previously had been with Miller in Southern California. Amescua has raced extensively in California and won more than 900 races in his career, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.
“A few times, I’ve been fortunate enough to win three in a day,” Amescua said. “One time, I won four in a day and a few times I’ve won three in a day.”
Regular rider Florent Geroux is named on C Z Rocket, who has raced strictly in listed or graded stakes, spanning 10 races, for the last 16 ½ months. C Z Rocket is the 9-5 program favorite from the rail.
Probable post time for Friday’s eighth race, which has a $101,000 purse is 3:46 p.m. (Central). Also entered is multiple Oaklawn allowance/optional claiming winner Mojo Man for trainer Jimmy DiVito, 2020 Kentucky Derby starter Attachment Rate for trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs and Grade 3 winner Cazadero for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.
C Z Rocket, a son of City Zip, has an 11-4-4 record from 30 career starts and earnings of $1,511,641.
Following the King Cotton, Oaklawn’s stakes series for older sprinters continues with the with the $200,000 Whitmore (formerly the Hot Springs) March 19 and the $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 16.
Strong Tide ($37.60) set a 1 3/16-mile track record in Sunday’s featured eighth race, an allowance for older horses. Strong Tide ran the distance in 1:56.33 over a good track to eclipse the previous record (1:57.40), set by Brassy March 29, 1952. The starter-allowance event was the final race of the meeting. Brassy’s time was converted from fifths of a second. Geovanni Franco rode Strong Tide for trainer Mike Lauer. … Joyful Cadence is pointing for the $150,000 American Beauty Stakes for older female sprinters Jan. 22, trainer John Ortiz said. Joyful Cadence became the first Oaklawn winner sired by champion Runhappy during the 2021 meeting before running second, beaten a half-length, in its $200,000 Purple Martin Stakes for 3-year-old filly sprinters. … Nominations to the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds, $200,000 Martha Washington Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and the $150,000 King Cotton Stakes for older sprinters close Friday. All three races are Jan. 29.