(Guest Suite / Photo Courtesy of Oaklawn Park)

From the Oaklawn Media Team:

Joevia will be running for more than a $300,000 first-place check in the Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses Monday at Oaklawn.

Co-owner Jeff Fazio said a portion of the colt’s winnings from the $500,000 race are earmarked for the Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation, a New York-based community service organization founded in 1997 by celebrated boxing trainer and commentator Teddy Atlas to honor his father’s memory. According to the organization’s website, Theodore Atlas “would provide free medical care to those who couldn’t afford it and made house calls to give personal care to his patients until he was 80 years old.” The foundation, the website further states, focuses particularly on the needs of children.

Fazio said he was inspired to give following the unexpected death of a college friend’s son Jan. 28. Julian Mittman was only 20 months old.

“They put him to bed and he just never woke up,” said Fazio, the son-in-law of Teddy Atlas. “When my friend said his words at the services, he really tried to say that life is about making people smile. It just made sense for my brother and I to run this race for Julian and dedicate a portion of the proceeds that we win for the Theodore Atlas Foundation.”

Fazio and his brother, Michael, co-own Joevia, who finished third in last year’s Belmont Stakes and was an allowance winner sprinting in his 4-year-old debut Jan. 17 at Aqueduct. Trained by Gregory Sacco, Joevia recorded his biggest career victory to date in the $100,000 Long Branch Stakes last May at Monmouth Park.

Jeff Fazio said Joevia, a son of champion Shanghai Bobby, is the first horse he’s owned and special because of how he was named.

“My brother’s been in the sport 10-plus years,” Jeff Fazio said. “When he named the horse, he named the horse after my son, Joseph, and his daughter, Olivia. When he named the horse, I really felt connected to the horse. That’s sort of when I decided to go into partners with him.”

Sacco, who is based in the East Coast/Mid-Atlantic region, has never started a horse at Oaklawn. Fazio, who grew up in New Jersey, said he’s never been to Oaklawn.

“The field is high quality,” Fazio said of the Razorback. “Every horse in it is a good horse, but we’re coming in confident. The horse came out of the layoff race amazing. We feel we’re as good as any horse in that race. Hopefully, we get a good trip and when we come for home, we can finish strong and win.”

Joevia’s half-sister, Specially, finished second in Saturday’s $125,000 Dixie Belle Stakes for 3-year-old filly sprinters.

Special Guest

(Guest Suite / Photo Courtesy of Oaklawn Park)

Guest Suite’s victory in the first division of the $100,000 Fifth Season Stakes for older horses Jan. 25 represented another success story for co-owner/trainer Cipriano Contreras, who has excelled with claims of seasoned route runners.

Contreras claimed Guest Suite, a 6-year-old Quality Road gelding, for $62,500 last October at Keeneland and has already received a healthy return on that investment ($135,183 in earnings) after two victories, including a neck decision over millionaire Snapper Sinclair in the 1-mile Fifth Season.

Another $62,500 claim, Rated R Superstar, won the $350,000 Essex Handicap for older horses at 1 1/16 miles last year at Oaklawn. After being claimed by Contreras for $25,000 at the 2018 Oaklawn meeting, Matrooh won his next two starts, including the $100,000 Hanshin Cup Stakes (G3) at a mile in May 2018 at Arlington Park.

Contreras said working under Chicago training stalwart Mike Reavis was the blueprint for claiming success.

“We used to claim a lot of horses,” said Contreras, who saddled his first winner in 2016. “I mean, that’s what we do. Nobody has a farm and nobody is a breeder, so we claim horses. Sometimes we get lucky. Really, that’s all there is to it.”

Contreras said he didn’t have to shake for Guest Suite, who as a 3-year-old won the $200,000 Lecomte Stakes (G3) in 2017 at Fair Grounds for his high-profile connections of trainer Neil Howard and co-owner/co-breeder Will Farish. Guest Suite is from the family of 1992 Horse of the Year and subsequent super sire A.P. Indy and Summer Squall, Howard’s 1990 Preakness winner who was bred, in partnership, by Farish.

“I guess he was on the Derby trail for a little bit,” Contreras said of Guest Suite. “There’s nothing I did. He’s just a good horse.”

Overall, Guest Suite has a 6-2-8 record from 24-lifetime starts and earnings of $477,633. The Fifth Season was his first start at Oaklawn.

Contreras is scheduled to start Guest Suite and Rated R Superstar in Monday’s $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) at 1 1/16 miles, a major local steppingstone to the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 18. Rated R Superstar finished third in last year’s Razorback before winning the Essex in his next start.

Finish Lines

Unbeaten Ring Leader (3 for 3) will most likely make her two-turn debut in the $300,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies March 7, trainer Mac Robertson said moments after her victory in Saturday’s $125,000 Dixie Belle Stakes at 6 furlongs. Other locally based horses pointing for the Honeybee include unbeaten Taraz for trainer Brad Cox and O Seraphina for trainer Joe Sharp. O Seraphina worked a half-mile in :49.60 Saturday morning. Taraz and O Seraphina ran 1-2 in the $150,000 Martha Washington Stakes Feb. 1. … Trainer Robertino Diodoro had his meet-high 21stvictory Saturday, the 13th day of the scheduled 57-day season. Diodoro won the seventh race with first-time starter Lexi On the Move ($10.40) under leading rider David Cohen. Diodoro has at least one victory in 12 racing days and entered Sunday 21 of 55 overall. … Stakes-winning sprinter Pete’s Play Call worked a half-mile in :50 Sunday morning for trainer Mike Maker and owner Michael Huiof Little Rock, Ark., who said the 7-year-old gelding is being pointed for an allowance race. Maker and Hui will be represented by Exulting in Monday’s $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses. Exulting won last year’s inaugural $250,000 Oaklawn Mile. … Red Again, a five-time winner at last year’s meet, is entered in Monday’s first race, a starter-allowance for older horses at 1 3/16 miles. Red Again, who is trained by Aaron Shorter, ran his local record to 6 for 7 with a front-running 1 ¾-length victory Jan. 31 under Cohen.