Oaklawn Park Barn Notes: Super Steed Being Pointed to G2 Rebel Stakes Next

(Super Steed winning the G3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park / Photo Courtesy of Oaklawn Park)

From the Oaklawn Park Media Team:

Super Steed emerged in good order from his upset victory in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Monday at Oaklawn and will return to the track in the new few days, depending on weather, to begin preparations for the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) March 16, trainer Larry Jones said Wednesday morning.

“Right now, everything is about normal,” Jones said.

Super Steed earned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 87 for his three-quarter length victory over Sueno in the 1 1/16-mile Southwest, Oaklawn’s second of four major Kentucky Derby prep races. Ridden by Terry Thompson, Super Steed ($126.60) earned 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points with his second victory in five lifetime starts and first in stakes company.

Super Steed came to Oaklawn a live horse on the Kentucky Derby trail, but his stock fell after finishing a flat fourth as the even-money favorite in the $74,250 Sugar Bowl Stakes Dec. 22 at Fair Grounds and seventh in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 25, his two-turn debut and Oaklawn’s first major Kentucky Derby prep.

“You always worry after he had two subpar performances,” Jones said. “We knew that he wasn’t feeling well when we got to Louisiana, but he needed experience. He wasn’t sick, he just didn’t feel good. It didn’t look like afterward that it hurt him any, so I am glad we did go ahead and do it. Then over here on Smarty Jones Day, it was merry-go-round racing all day long. We were hoping that it was track bias. We didn’t get beat bad. I hadn’t lost any confidence in him, but it’s one of those deals where you couldn’t sell the idea that, boy, we’re going to be tough in the Southwest.”

Jones also won the Southwest in 2009 with Old Fashioned, who suffered his first career defeat in the Rebel. Super Steed, a son of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, races for his breeder, Mike Pressley, a semi-retired automobile dealer from Henderson Ky., and Steed Jackson, a physician from Evansville, Ind., and the colt’s namesake.

Pressley also campaigned Ruby’s Reception, who gave Jones his first career graded stakes victory in the $200,000 Fantasy Stakes (G2) for 3-year-old fillies in 2003 at Oaklawn.

Super Steed, who broke his maiden by six lengths in allowance company Nov. 24 at Churchill Downs, has earned $364,500.

The 1 1/16-mile Rebel is the final major local prep for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 13. The Rebel will offer 85 Kentucky Derby qualifying points (50-20-10-5) to the top four finishers.

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Trainer Todd Pletcher said Monday night that next-race plans are pending for lightly raced Coal Front, a neck winner of the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses at 1 1/16 miles Monday in his seasonal and two-turn debut.

Coal Front, among four Pletcher horses flown back to their south-Florida base Tuesday, raised his career earnings to $777,280 after winning for the sixth time in eight starts.

A 5-year-old son of Stay Thirsty, Coal Front’s career has been interrupted twice, Pletcher said, because of fractures in both front legs. The second setback, necessitating a 13-month layoff, came after a victory in the $300,000 Gallant Bob Stakes (G3) in September 2017 at Parx.

“Since he was a 2-year-old, man, he’d show up in the mornings and did all the work very fast,” said Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, who has ridden Coal Front six times, including the Razorback. “He did everything a good horse was meant to be. Obviously, all his problems and other things that happened to him really set him back, unfortunately, because he was definitely meant to be a really good horse.”

Coal Front ($4.60) earned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 93 for his Razorback victory, the ridgling’s fourth graded stakes score. Coal Front, exiting a 3 ¾-length victory in the $100,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3) at 7 furlongs Dec. 22 at Gulfstream Park, was able to secure a stalking position Monday after breaking from post 14 in the 14-horse field.

“Confident the way he was training that he was ready to try to stretch out,” Pletcher said. “Happy to see him do it. He’s a really, really nice horse. He’s had a few setbacks along the way. It’s nice to see him try to put together a consistent schedule. Hopefully, he can continue to do that.”

Coal Front is owned by Robert LaPenta and Head of Plains Partners LLC, also partners in multiple Oaklawn stakes winner and 2018 Breeders’ Cup Sprint runner-up Whitmore.

Heartwood, third in the Mr. Prospector, won the $100,000 King Cotton Stakes for older sprinters Feb. 9 at Oaklawn in his 2019 debut.

Asmussen Nears 600

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen saddled four winners Monday to reach 599 in his Oaklawn career.

Asmussen won the second race with favored New York Central ($5), fifth race with Laughing Fox ($17.60), sixth race with Comedian ($11.60) and seventh race, the $200,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3), with favored She’s a Julie ($4.80). All four winners were ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., Oaklawn’s leading jockey the last six years.

Asmussen has collected nine Oaklawn training titles since 2007 and recorded his 500th career local victory Jan. 16, 2017, with Hence. Asmussen started his first horse at Oaklawn in 1989 and has a meet-high 16 victories this year.

She’s a Julie represented Asmussen’s 76th Oaklawn stakes victory. He has at least one stakes victory every year in Hot Springs since 1996.

Asmussen has two horses entered Thursday at Oaklawn.

Asmussen ($1,086,838) became the first trainer at the meet to reach $1 million in purse earnings Monday, the 15th day of the scheduled 57-day season.

Finish Lines

The track was rated muddy for workouts Wednesday morning. … Grade 1 winner Sporting Chanceworked a half-mile from the gate in :49.20 Wednesday morning for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Sporting Chance, who breezed in company, finished third in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) and fifth in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds last year at Oaklawn. … Multiple Oaklawn stakes winner and 2018 Breeders’ Cup Sprint runner-up Whitmore worked a half-mile in :49 Monday morning for co-owner/trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs. Moquett said Whitmore is scheduled to make his 2019 debut in the $150,000 Hot Springs Stakes March 9, a race he won in 2017 and 2018. … Allen Milligan, Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 2009, had 999 career North American victories through Tuesday, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Milligan entered Keene’s Desire in Thursday’s seventh race at Oaklawn. … Karl Broberg, Oaklawn’s co-seventh-leading trainer this year, had 2,990 career North American victories through Tuesday, according to Equibase. Broberg has two horses entered Thursday at Oaklawn – Joan’s Delight in the second race and Sure Thing Sheila in the fifth race. … Through Monday, the 15th day of the scheduled 57-day season, 148 claims had totaled $2,285,250.

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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