Oaklawn Park Barn Notes: Intrepid Heart Impresses in Career Debut

(Intrepid Heart winning at Oaklawn Park this past Monday / Photo Courtesy of Oaklawn Park)

From the Oaklawn Park Media Team:

Todd Pletcher shipped four horses to Oaklawn last week, with the most intriguing being one that had never started. Triple Crown nominee Intrepid Heart didn’t let the trainer down, rolling to a 7 ¾-length victory in Monday’s third race under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.

Intrepid Heart races for Robert and Lawana Low of Springfield, Mo., who purchased the gray son of super sire Tapit for $750,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s April sale of 2-year-olds in training.

Pletcher and the Lows teamed to win the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) and $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) for 3-year-olds last year at Oaklawn with Magnum Moon, whose career debut had come Jan. 13 at Gulfstream Park. Magnum Moon won the Rebel – his stakes debut – in his third lifetime start.

“I think it’s a wait and see,” Pletcher said Monday night, when asked about Intrepid Heart’s next race. “I’m not sure that we’ll jump into a stake just yet, but at the same time we won’t rule anything out.”

Intrepid Heart led at every point of call in the mile race, but was pressed most of the way by Better Charge It on the outside. The 4-5 favorite finally shook clear approaching the quarter pole and drew off in the short stretch run to cover the distance over a fast track in 1:38.08. Intrepid Heart had a string of works since late December at Palm Beach Downs in south Florida before being flown to Arkansas Feb. 13. The Lows call Oaklawn their home track.

“Very, very pleased,” Pletcher said. “It’s not something we usually do, shipping an unstarted maiden somewhere, but just felt like he was getting ready to go and the Gulfstream options were going to be 6 furlongs, which I felt like were a little too short. It’s either that or you wait a couple of weeks until a mile and a sixteenth. With the 1-mile race there, we felt like he was ready to go. Since we had some other horses ship in, decided to go forward with that.”

Pletcher won the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses later Monday with Coal Front. Intrepid Heart is a half-brother to Commissioner, runner-up in the Belmont Stakes and sixth in the Arkansas Derby in 2014.

“Really pleased with the way he handled himself,” Pletcher said. “Put himself in a good position early on. He’s a horse that’s very well bred. Lot of stamina on the bottom side, so we felt like a mile was a good starting point for him and hopefully that propels him on to some bigger and better things down the road.”

The $1 million Rebel (G2) at 1 1/16 miles is March 16. The $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at 1 1/8 miles is April 13.

Pletcher’s horses were flown back to south Florida Tuesday.

Sweet as Honey

Sparkling Sunday allowance winner Motion Emotion is probably headed to the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies March 9, trainer Tom Van Berg said Monday afternoon.

Motion Emotion, in her two-turn debut, was a front-running 6 ¾-length winner under 2000 Oaklawn riding champion Jon Court, covering 1 1/16 miles over a fast track in 1:44.07. Motion Emotion, a daughter of Take Charge Indy, had broken her maiden by 1 ½ lengths Jan. 25 for owner Mark DeDomenico and Van Berg.

Motion Emotion began her racing career with trainer Mike Puhich, finishing fourth against males Sept. 8 at Emerald Downs. In her second start, and first for Van Berg, Motion Emotion finished a troubled ninth on a sloppy track Nov. 1 at Churchill Downs.

“She broke about three strides out of the gate and her back end totally went out from under her,” Van Berg said. “It was a sloppy track. The starter at Churchill told me, ‘Tom, I thought your mare broke down.’ It was so violent the way it just slipped out from underneath her.”

Van Berg said Motion Emotion was entered again at Churchill Downs, but scratched because of another sloppy track and then pointed for a 3-year-old campaign at Oaklawn.

Motion Emotion also led at every point of call in her maiden victory.

“The way she trained, she has no negative traits that you think that she’s not going to keep on going,” Van Berg said. “She’s real kind. She rates. She’s push button. She’s just a super filly to be around.”

The 1 1/16-mile Honeybee is the final major local prep for the $500,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 12.


Dawn at Oaklawn

Professional handicapper and Fox Sports Saturday at the Races analyst Jonathon Kinchen is the special guest for Saturday’s Dawn at Oaklawn, a weekly question and answer session hosted by paddock analyst Nancy Holthus.

Holthus is scheduled to interview Kinchen at 8:30 a.m. (Central) on the south grandstand apron.

The weekly free program runs 7:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m. and features barn tours and complimentary pastries and coffee.

Finish Lines

The track was rated fast for workouts Thursday morning. … Millionaire and 2018 Oaklawn allowance winner Bravazo worked 5 furlongs in 1:01 moments after the track opened Thursday morning for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Bravazo is being pointed for the $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1) March 30 in the United Arab Emirates. … Multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Amy’s Challengeworked a half-mile in :48 after the renovation break Thursday morning for trainer Mac Robertson. … Multiple stakes winner and 2018 Remington Park Horse of the Meet Welder is scheduled to arrive this weekend and work Sunday morning, trainer Theresa Sue Luneack said Wednesday afternoon. The plan, Luneack said, is for Oklahoma-based Welder to return for the $150,000 Hot Springs Stakes for older sprinters March 9. … Southern California-based horses, including Sueno, runner-up in Monday’s $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds, were to be flown home Thursday. … Larry Robideaux, among Oaklawn’s leading trainers from the late 1980s until the mid-1990s, saddled his first winner since Nov. 8, 2012, in Monday’s first race with Oochie ($23), according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Robideaux, 85, became stall superintendent in 2013 at Louisiana Downs before resurfacing with a starter in late December at Delta Downs. Robideaux’s first Oaklawn starter in 2019, Oxxon, finished eighth in a Feb. 2 maiden special weights sprint.  Robideaux won 25 races in 1987 at Oaklawn, 27 in 1990, 29 in 1991 and 20 in 1995. He won Oaklawn’s Southwest Stakes and Rebel Stakes in 1995 with Mystery Storm. Oochie was a 3 ¼-length winner of her career debut, a maiden special weights sprint for Arkansas-bred females. Oochie earned an additional $5,280 from an adjusted purse for $93,280 for becoming the 30th “Lasix-free Bonus” winner, and fourth this meet, since Oaklawn began the program in 2015. The “Lasix-free Bonus Program” offers a 10 percent hike to the winner’s share of the purse for horses that win without the anti-bleeder medication.

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds

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