(La Renoleta / Coady Photography & Courtesy of Oaklawn Park)
From the Oaklawn Park Media Team:
She’s still flawless – on two continents.
La Renoleta earned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 89 and a chance to possibly try graded stakes company again after drubbing conditioned allowance opponents at 1 1/16 miles Feb. 8 at Oaklawn, the 5-year-old mare’s first start outside her native Argentina. La Renoleta won her first four career starts in Argentina, including the Estrellas Distaff (G1) June 29 – her last race in South America – before being purchased privately by Kentucky bloodstock agent Peter Bradley III (Bradley Thoroughbreds).
La Renoleta won her American debut by 9 ¾ lengths as the heavy favorite under six-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. Santana rode the winner for his major client, Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who has topped the Oaklawn standings 10 times since 2007.
“When you think one’s going to run really well, you’re more nervous than the rest of them, so I was pretty nervous over this filly,” Bradley, one of La Renoleta’s owners, said Thursday morning. “Steve Asmussen doesn’t tell you a lot, but when he tells you he thinks they’re pretty nice, the anticipation goes up even more.”
Bradley said he assembles racing partnerships, or racing ventures, focusing primarily on fillies. Co-owners of La Renoleta are Swift Thoroughbreds Inc. (Mark Mache), Paul Braverman and Tim and Anna Cambron.
“She’s one that caught my eye down in South America,” Bradley said. “It’s a hard place to buy horses out of because their Grade 1s in any given year can have as good as a field as anywhere in the world and the next year their Grade 1 winners might be listed horses anywhere else in the world. Based on her times and her performances, she looked like she was one of those special ones.”
Bradley said he began tracking La Renoleta in June and the deal was finalized in September. The Argentine-bred daughter of grass standout Treasure Beach (a Grade 1 winner in the United States and Group 1 winner in Europe) was sent to Asmussen and had a series of workouts at Fair Grounds in advance of her American debut.
“Even though her pedigree kind of said she was turf, all her races have been great on the dirt down there, so we gave her to Steve to see what he could do with her,” Bradley said. “She came up, I think, in September. The South American horses take a while to kind of come around for U.S. racing. There’s a transition period there between, just the difference in the Southern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere. You kind of throw them off, photosensitive-wise. They also really don’t understand American training, so it takes a while. A lot of those horses down there gallop without a saddle even, if you know how they train. It’s quite a change for their temperament and everything. Steve took his time with her and it looks like it’s going to pay off.”
Bradley said he’s only tried to buy two other South American horses. One private purchase, Chilean-bred Dacita, was a multiple Grade 1 winner in the United States for perennial Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown.
“Right now, it looks like I may have bought two good fillies out of there,” Bradley said.
Bradley said La Renoleta will be considered for Oaklawn’s two signature two-turn races for older fillies and mares – $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 14 and the $1 million Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 18. Both races are 1 1/16 miles.
“Again, the bottom line is Steve makes the call on that,” Bradley said of La Renoleta’s racing schedule.
Bradley, in partnership, won the $200,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) for older fillies and mares last year at Oaklawn with the Asmussen-trained She’s a Julie.
Colorful Fayetteville, Ark., owner Dash Goff said the promising Captain Don is named for the late poultry magnate Don Tyson, a shady character in Northwest Arkansas and Don Von Hemel of Hot Springs, Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 1981.
“There’s three Dons in that,” Goff said Monday morning. “Don Von Hemel is the best.”
In a new installment of “I Love the ’80s,” Von Hemel (85) and Goff (80) could be on the road to the $125,000 Rainbow Stakes with Captain Don, who broke his maiden by 3 ½ lengths in an Arkansas-bred maiden special weights sprint Feb. 9.
Goff purchased the 3-year-old gelded son of Flat Out for $20,000 as a yearling from a consignment of prominent Arkansas breeder Bill McDowell.
“A friend of mine had three horses in a sale over in Oklahoma,” Goff said. “They were well bred. I went over to look at those and Don was there. Don picked this horse out. He said, ‘I like this one better.’ I said, ‘If you like it, that’s it.’ I don’t trust myself. I look at a lot of horses, but I don’t trust myself. These trainers have a much better eye than I do.”
Captain Don made his first two career starts in open maiden special weights company, finishing fifth in his Aug. 24 career debut and second Sept. 14. Both races were at Remington Park in Oklahoma City.
“I’ve known Don forever, but he hasn’t trained for me that long,” Goff said. “This is the first big horse.”
Captain Don is entered in a first-level allowance sprint for Arkansas-breds Thursday. The Rainbow, the biggest prize for Arkansas-bred 3-year-olds, is April 17.
Goff, whose father, Gene, bred and owned Nodouble, the greatest Arkansas-bred in history, has won 2 of 3 starts at the meet. Goff’s other victory came with the Jimmy DiVito-trained Mojo Man in an open allowance sprint Feb. 15.
Grade 3 winner Remembering Rita ($3.80) pushed his career earnings to almost $500,000 with a front-running 3 ¾-length allowance victory in Friday’s eighth race for older horses at 1 1/8 miles. Joe Talamo rode the winner for trainer Doug Anderson of Hot Springs and owner Jeral Keith Adams of DeWitt, Ark. … The $125,000 Spring Fever Stakes for older female sprinters Feb. 29 closed Thursday with 35 nominations. … Something Natural, a first-level allowance winner Feb. 15, is under consideration for the $250,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) for 3-year-olds March 14 at Turfway Park, trainer Brad Cox said Friday morning. The Jeff Ruby Steaks – formerly the Spiral Stakes – is Turfway Park’s major Kentucky Derby prep. Something Natural ran second to stablemate Wells Bayou in an entry-level allowance race Jan. 26. Wells Bayou returned to run second in Monday’s $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3), Oaklawn’s second of four Kentucky Derby points races. Cox said Wells Bayou is a candidate for the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) March 14. … Cox said Friday morning that next-race plans are pending for Bonny South, a two-turn entry-level allowance winner for 3-year-old fillies Feb. 15.