HOT SPRINGS, AR – Bandit Point has a fourth chance to make a good first impression in the $200,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Championship Saturday at Oaklawn.
Anchoring the penultimate card of the 66-day meeting, the Arkansas Breeders’ Championship goes as the 11th of 12 races, with probable post time 6:17 p.m. (Central). Racing begins at 12:05 p.m.
A full field of 14, including two past winners, is entered in the 1 1/16-mile Arkansas Breeders’ Championship, which is restricted to Arkansas-breds, 3-year-olds and up.
Owned and trained by Robert N. Cline, Bandit Point will be making his fourth start in the Arkansas Breeders’ Championship after finishing third in its inaugural running in 2019, fourth in 2020 and fifth last year. Bandit Point is seeking his first career stakes victory after finishing second or third in eight prior attempts, including seven at Oaklawn for Cline and his longtime fiancée, jockey Kelsi Harr, who is the horse’s regular rider. Bandit Point, a late-running 7-year-old chestnut son of Indy Squall, represented the first career mount and victory for Harr, June 17, 2018, at Canterbury Park.
“Oh, man, you might see me and Robert roll around in the dirt if he were to pull that off,” Harr said, referring to the Arkansas Breeders’ Championship. “He’s been chasing it so long now. Oh, man, to pull off a Stakes win on him, being my first mount and first win and my favorite horse, it would just be the cherry on top.”
Bandit Point, the 7-2 program favorite, exits a one-length victory in the April 10 allowance prep at 1 1/16 miles. Bandit Point earned a solid 84 Beyer Speed Figure for his fifth career victory, which pushed his earnings to $470,363.
“Numbers-wise, I don’t think they gave him a great number,” Cline said. “As far as making me feel like we’ve got a real shot at winning the Championship, man, I was super proud of the horse. I felt like I was the only one possibly prepped for the prep. I ran eight days prior to the prep because I wanted to win it. It’s $107,000. I definitely feel like our horse is coming out of it good and I feel like they’ll be knowing that we’re coming down the lane.”
The projected 14-horse Arkansas Breeders’ Championship field from the rail out: Twisted Dixie, Gabriel Saez to ride, 124 pounds, 20-1 on the morning line; Bandit Point, Kelsi Harr, 124, 7-2; Big Success, David Cohen, 124, 12-1; Bellamys Roan, Calvin Borel, 124, 15-1; J. E.’s Handmedown, Isaac Castillo, 115, 12-1; Promising Shoes, Emmanuel Esquivel, 118, 30-1; Implicator, Iram Diego, 118, 8-1; Dinner At Crumpies, Francisco Arrieta, 124, 10-1; More Than Blessed, Geovanni Franco, 124, 12-1; Tempt Fate, John Hiraldo, 118, 10-1; Souixper Charger, Luis Quinonez, 118, 5-1; K J’s Nobility, Elvin Gonzalez, 115, 10-1; Mrs. Beans, Martin Garcia, 124, 5-1; and Man in the Can, Alex Canchari, 124, 9-2.
Man in the Can won the 2020 Arkansas Breeders’ Championship en route to Arkansas-bred Horse of the Year honors for trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs. Man in the Can was a front-running 7 ½-length state-bred allowance winner at 1 1/16 miles Jan. 16, but finished seventh behind Bandit Point April 10.
Tempt Fate was a front-running two-length winner of last year’s Arkansas Breeders’ Championship for owner Jerry Caroom of Hot Springs. Temp Fate, the 2021 Arkansas-bred Horse of the Year, has had two half-mile works since being a veterinarian scratch going to the gate for the April 10 prep. Caroom also won the inaugural Arkansas Breeders’ Championship in 2019 with the now-retired Hoonani Road.
Also returning from the April 10 allowance prep are Souixper Charger and K J’s Nobility, who finished second and third, respectively. K J’s Nobility also ran second, beaten a neck, in the 2020 Arkansas Breeders’ Championship.
The Arkansas Breeders’ Championship, the richest race for state-breds, drew 20 nominees. It is the final stakes race of the 2021-2022 Oaklawn meeting.
Oaklawn Press Release
Photo: Bandit Point (Coady Photo)