(Taraz winning at Churchill Downs / Coady Photography & Courtesy of Oaklawn Park)
From the Oaklawn Park Media Team:
Taraz completed major preparations for the $150,000 Martha Washington Stakes for 3-year-old fillies Feb. 1 by breezing 5 furlongs in 1:01.20 Sunday morning at Fair Grounds for trainer Brad Cox and owner Juddmonte Farms Inc., which also bred the massive daughter of Into Mischief.
Taraz, who is unbeaten in two career starts, is scheduled to make her two-turn debut in the Martha Washington, a 1-mile race that is Oaklawn’s first of three Kentucky Oaks points races. Taraz won her career debut by 7 ½ lengths Nov. 14 at Churchill Downs and the $75,000 Letellier Memorial Stakes Dec. 21 at Fair Grounds by 11 ¼ lengths.
Other early probables, according to the Oaklawn racing department, are O Seraphina for trainer Joe Sharp and Seahawk Lisa for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. A handful of other horses remained under consideration for the race late Sunday morning.
Oaklawn’s Kentucky Oaks points series continues with the $300,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 7 and the $600,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 10. Both races are 1 1/16 miles.
The Martha Washington will share the Feb. 1 spotlight with the $125,000 American Beauty Stakes for older female sprinters.
Early probables for the 6-furlong American Beauty, according to the Oaklawn department, are Amy’s Challenge for trainer Mac Robertson, Ascot Day and Talbeya (Dan Peitz), Pretty Greeley (John Ortiz), Raintree Starlet (Brian Williamson) and Three Chords (Kenny Smith).
Amy’s Challenge was a front-running 5 ¾-length winner of last year’s American Beauty. Raintree Starlet won the $100,000 Dixie Belle Stakes for 3-year-old filly sprinters last year at Oaklawn. Pretty Greeley worked 5 furlongs in 1:03.20 Sunday morning.
Post positions for the Martha Washington and American Beauty will be drawn Wednesday.
Unbeaten Ancient Warrior is targeting a Feb. 2 first-level allowance sprint for his 3-year-old debut, Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said Sunday morning.
Ancient Warrior was a front-running 4 ¼-length winner of his Nov. 23 career debut at Del Mar for Hollendorfer and breeder/owner Al Graziani, covering 6 furlongs in a sharp 1:09.72. Garth, who was runner-up in that maiden special weights event, was exiting a sixth-place finish in the $300,000 Del Mar Futurity (G1) Sept. 2 at Del Mar for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
“We’ve liked him from the very beginning,” Hollendorfer said. “Progressed well and then he won his first out pretty handily.”
Ancient Warrior subsequently had four published workouts in Southern California before breezing for the first time locally Saturday morning. Ancient Warrior went 5 furlongs over a good surface in 1:00.40, a time that ranked second of 80 at the distance.
“He worked really good,” Hollendorfer said.
Ancient Warrior was nominated to last Friday’s $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes – Oaklawn’s first of four Kentucky Derby points races – but Hollendorfer said he’s not rushing the son of millionaire and multiple Grade 1 winner Constitution, the country’s No. 2 first-crop sire in 2019.
“Taking them one at a time,” Hollendorfer said.
Ancient Warrior is among 30 horses at Oaklawn for Hollendorfer, who is wintering in Hot Springs for the first time. Hollendorfer, who is based in Southern California, said also has horses at Los Alamitos in suburban Los Angeles.
“It’s our first year running here, so we don’t know quite what to expect,” Hollendorfer said. “There’s a lot of claiming here and people running their horses in the right spots, so we’ll just try to adjust to see if we can work our horses in with these here.”
Hollendorfer had his first two starters of the meet Friday and had three more horses entered Sunday, including unbeaten 3-year-old Play the Wildcard in first-level allowance race at a mile. Hollendorfer co-owns Play the Wildcard, a Jack Milton gelding who was privately purchased following a Nov. 10 career-debut victory at Woodbine. Play the Wildcard was also nominated to the Smarty Jones.
Hollendorfer was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2011. He entered Sunday with 7,639 career victories to rank third in North American history.
Six horses were on the grounds Sunday morning for Peter Eurton after they were vanned from their Southern California base. … Grade 1 winner Knicks Go worked a half-mile in :48 Sunday morning for trainer Brad Cox. The surface was rated muddy. … Jockey Orlando Mojica and trainer Robertino Diodoro teamed for three victories Saturday, including the second division of the $100,000 Fifth Season Stakes for older horses with Pioneer Spirit ($7.40). Diodoro said Pioneer Spirit will “most likely” make his next start in the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) Feb. 17. … Next-race plans are pending for first-division Fifth Season winner Guest Suite ($24.40), co-owner/trainer Cipriano Contreras said Sunday morning. … Whoa Nellie will be pointed for the $200,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) for older fillies and mares Feb. 17, trainer Larry Jones said, after the 4-year-old daughter of Orb won Saturday’s $100,000 Pippin Stakes. She paid $6.60 as the favorite. … A racing rarity occurred on Saturday’s nine-race program, with dead-heats for the win in two races (fourth and sixth). VictoryElement ($6.80) and Miracle Hill ($13) finished on even terms in the fourth race. Ditto for No Shirt No Shoes ($8.60) and Twilight Fantasy ($8) in the sixth race. … Trainer Cecil Borel won with first starter following a brief retirement in Saturday’s third race with Futile ($10.80). The gelding is owned by Carson McCord, 20, of Hot Springs.