(Silver Prospector / Coady Photography & Courtesy of Oaklawn Park)
From the Oaklawn Park Media Team:
Silver Prospector turned in a golden performance Monday afternoon at Oaklawn, earning a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 97, for his one-length victory in the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds.
The 1 1/16-mile Southwest was redemption for Silver Prospector, who was coming off a non-threatening fourth in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 24, Oaklawn’s first of four Kentucky Derby points races. A son of turf standout Declaration of War, Silver Prospector was already on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard after closing his 2-year-old campaign with a victory in the $300,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) Nov. 30 at Churchill Downs for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and Colorado owners Ed and Susie Orr.
Silver Prospector earned 10 points for his Southwest victory and has 21 overall to rank sixth on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard. Points are used to determine starting preference if the race draws more than 20 entrants.
Asmussen said Silver Prospector will be pointed for the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) March 14, the final major local prep for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 11. The Rebel will offer 85 points to the top four finishers (50-20-10-5) toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby.
“We certainly aren’t there yet,” said Ed Orr, whose numerous business interests in Greeley, Colo., include cattle and real estate. “We’re going to have to have another good showing somewhere, I think, with the points system to make it. We obviously have hope, but not a fever.”
Silver Prospector was much closer to the pace in the Southwest, which wasn’t surprising after tipping his hand in a sharp 5-furlong work in company Feb. 5. Silver Prospector finished heads up with stablemate Bankit, a multiple stakes winner who ran second, beaten a head, approximately a half-hour before the Southwest in the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses.
Silver Prospector, along the rail, tracked front-runner Wells Bayou through solid fractions of :46.60 for a half-mile and 1:11.72 for three-quarters. Santana guided Silver Prospector off the rail turning for home and collared the determined Wells Bayou on the outside in midstretch. Silver Prospector ran 1 1/16 miles over a fast track in 1:43.01 and paid $11.40. The winning time for the Razorback was 1:43.00.
“I knew I had a ton of horse,” said Santana, who recorded his 500th career Oaklawn victory Sunday aboard the Asmussen-trained Icecap. “He was working unbelievable the last two weeks. We had a lot of confidence in him.”
The Orrs purchased Silver Prospector for $190,000 at the 2019 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training. Asmussen, a 10-time Oaklawn training champion, was an underbidder on the gray colt, Ed Orr said.
Overall, Silver Prospector has a 3-0-2 record from eight lifetime starts and earnings of $713,051.
“We’re proud of him,” Orr said. “That’s a tough horse.”
Other locally based horses pointing for the 1 1/16-mile Rebel include Smarty Jones runner-up Three Technique for trainer Jeremiah Englehart. The Asmussen-trained Basin is under consideration for the $300,000 Gotham Stakes (G3) March 7 at Aqueduct and the Rebel, the colt’s owner, Jackpot Farm, said in a text message Tuesday night. Basin, who is based at Fair Grounds, hasn’t started since winning the $350,000 Hopeful Stakes (G1) Sept. 2 at Saratoga.
Nominations to the Rebel close March 5.
(Warrior’s Charge / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
Charging to the Winner’s Circle
Other than his many local owners, nobody was likely happier to see Warrior’s Charge win Monday’s $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) than Coady Photography, Oaklawn’s longtime track photographer.
Warrior’s Charge is campaigned, in partnership, by Memphis, Tenn.-based Ten Strike Racing, which considers Oaklawn its home track. The syndicate side of Ten Strike offers fractional ownership of horses and approximately 35 partners have a piece of Warrior’s Charge, founding partner Clay Sanders said a week before the Razorback, a 1 1/16-mile race for older horses.
“If he’s lucky enough to win, it will be a full winner’s circle, I can assure you that,” Sanders said. “If it’s not the biggest one of the year, I will be surprised. There’s a lot of 1 percent, half-percent guys in Arkansas that own part of this horse.”
Get the picture?
Favored Warrior’s Charge won the Razorback, and Oaklawn’s infield winner’s circle reserved for stakes was so packed that track announcer Vic Stauffer wondered aloud if there would be room for the horse in the hedge-shaped horseshoe.
“That was really cool,” said Liz Crow, Ten Strike’s racing manager.
The Razorback represented a breakthrough victory for Warrior’s Charge, who whipped maiden special weights and first-level allowance opponents last year at Oaklawn before running fourth in the May 18 Preakness – the second leg of the Triple Crown – after being supplemented for $150,000 by Ten Strike and co-owner Madaket Stables (Jason Monteleone and Sol Kumin).
A health scare (colic) sidelined Warrior’s Charge following the Preakness and he didn’t resurface until a Dec. 18 allowance race at Fair Grounds. The Munnings colt, off that front-running two-length victory, made his 4-year-old debut in the Razorback.
Warrior’s Charge was hustled to the front Monday by Florent Geroux and led virtually every step, holding off Bankit by a head in 1:43.00 over a fast track. Warrior’s Charge ($8) received a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 97, a career high.
Trainer Brad Cox said Warrior’s Charge came around so quickly late last year that he thought about running him in the $200,000 Sunshine Millions Classic for Florida-breds Jan. 18 at Gulfstream Park. But after conferring with Sanders and Marshall Gramm, Ten Strike’s other founding partner, it was decided to train up to the Razorback.
“It worked out well because we were, obviously, two months between races,” Cox said. “He stepped up and ran well.”
Cox said the major spring target for Warrior’s Charge is the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 18. Warrior’s Charge has a 4-0-3 record from eight lifetime starts and earnings of $565,310. On Crow’s recommendation, Ten Strike privately purchased Warrior’s Charge from his breeder, Al Shaquab Racing, as a yearling.
Luis Quinonez rode two winners Sunday to push his career Oaklawn total to 597, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Quinonez won the fourth race aboard Backseat Promises ($20.80) for trainer Andy Gladd and the fifth race aboard Bank Man ($30.40) for trainer Tom Swearingen. Quinonez was Oaklawn’s leading rider in 2007. … Kelsi Harr, Oaklawn’s leading apprentice jockey this year, had her first career riding double Monday. Harr won the third race aboard Bandit Point ($10.20) for trainer Robert N. Cline and the fifth race aboard Quick Decision ($18.60) for trainer Larry Jones. Harr has three victories at the meeting. … Owner John Ed Anthony of Hot Springs and trainer Will VanMeter teamed for their third Arkansas-bred female maiden special weights winner at the meet in Monday’s second race with Sekani, who scored by 10 lengths under Declan Cannon. All three horses have earned Oaklawn’s “Lasix-free bonus” for winning without running on the anti-bleeder medication. The bonuses have totaled $15,300 – $5,100, or 10 percent of the winner’s share for each victory – for Anthony and VanMeter, who each have a record eight Lasix-free winners since the program debuted in 2015. Money for the bonus is covered by Oaklawn and isn’t drawn from its purse account. … Post positions were to be drawn Wednesday for Saturday’s $125,000 Downthedustyroad Stakes for Arkansas-bred female sprinters.