Busy Morning for Arkansas Derby Works

March 26, 2022

Three projected starters for the $1.25 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 2 recorded their final workouts over a fast track Saturday morning at Oaklawn.

The trio of workers included Un Ojo, the one-eyed gelding who recorded an upset victory in Oaklawn’s final major Arkansas Derby prep, the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) Feb. 26, for Louisiana-based trainer Ricky Courville.

Un Ojo breezed by himself after the surface renovation break under Rebel-winning rider Ramon Vazquez and covered a half-mile in :48.80. The gelding galloped out 5 furlongs in 1:02.

“Easy half, in hand,” said Clay Courville, who assists his father and regularly gallops Un Ojo. “Just a maintenance work. Northing hard. Just something to keep him happy.”

Un Ojo was breezing for the second time since winning the 1 1/16-mile Rebel at odds of 75-1. Un Ojo arrived Wednesday afternoon after a 5 ½-hour van ride from his south Louisiana base, The Training Center At Copper Crowne. Un Ojo returned to the work tab March 19 at The Training Center At Copper Crowne, clocking 5 furlongs in 1:03.

Working a half-mile approximately 15 minutes after the track opened at 7 a.m. (Central) was unbeaten We the People for trainer Rodolphe Brisset. We the People, as he normally does, breezed in company, this time with Triple Crown nominee and stablemate Kuchar, who is being pointed for the $150,000 Oaklawn Stakes April 23. We the People went in :47.80 and galloped out 5 furlongs in 1:00.80 under Brisset, his normal morning partner.

“Very good,” Brisset said. “Usual work for him. Same work we did last time before the allowance – :48, a minute and change – galloped out strong. Just a maintenance work at seven days. It was very good. Hopefully, he came out of it OK and we go from there.”

Also working in company just after the track opened was Ben Diesel for trainer Dallas Stewart. A full brother to multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Girls Secret, Ben Diesel recorded a 5-furlong bullet (:59) under regular rider Jon Court. Ben Diesel breezed with older stablemate Last Samurai, who won the $150,000 Poinsettia Stakes for 3-year-olds Dec. 11.

Post positions for the Arkansas Derby will be drawn Sunday at 12:30 p.m. (Central) in the Larry Snyder Winner’s Circle. The Arkansas Derby will offer 170 points (100-40-20-10, respectively) to the top four finishers toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby, which is limited to 20 starters.

The Oaklawn racing department listed nine probables Saturday morning, with a handful of others still being considered for the 1 1/8-mile race. Confirmed starters are Barber Road for trainer John Ortiz, Ben Diesel, Call Me Jamal (Mike Puhich), Chasing Time (Steve Asmussen), Cyberknife (Brad Cox), Doppelganger (Tim Yakteen), Secret Oath (D. Wayne Lukas), Un Ojo and We the People.

Oaklawn-based Barber Road and Call Me Jamal are scheduled to have their final works for the Arkansas Derby Sunday morning, their respective trainers said.

Secret Oath, who will be facing males for the first time, has won her three starts at the meeting by a combined 23 lengths. She won a Dec. 31 allowance race at 1 mile by 8 ¼ lengths, $200,000 Martha Washington Stakes Jan. 29 by 7 ¼ lengths and the $300,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) Feb. 26 by 7 ½ lengths. The Martha Washington and Honeybee were 1 1/16 miles.

Secret Oath, with 60 points for her Honeybee and Martha Washington victories, tops the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard. The daughter of Arrogate had been under consideration for the $600,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles April 2 – Oaklawn’s final major Kentucky Oaks prep – before targeting the Arkansas Derby.

Lukas won the 1984 Arkansas Derby with Althea, a week after she finished second in the Fantasy. Lukas finished third in the 1986 Arkansas Derby with another filly, Family Style, a week after she finished fourth in the Fantasy. Althea and Family Style were both Eclipse Award winners at 2.

Chasing Time and Ben Diesel finished 5-8, respectively, in the Rebel, while We the People exits a five-length entry-level allowance victory at 1 1/16 miles March 12. Cyberknife was a sharp allowance winner Feb. 19 at Fair Grounds in his last start.

The Southern California-based Doppelganger had been with Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert – a four-time Arkansas Derby winner – before being moved earlier this week to Yakteen, a former assistant. Baffert-trained horses were ineligible to collect Kentucky Derby qualifying points because of his two-year ban by Churchill Downs. He also is scheduled to begin serving a 90-day suspension April 4, sanctions stemming from the disqualification of his 2021 Kentucky Derby winner, Medina Spirit, because of a medication violation.

Doppelganger, Grade 2 placed, worked 5 furlongs in 1:00.20 Saturday morning at Santa Anita. Cyberknife went the same distance in 1:01.80 Saturday morning at Fair Grounds.

The $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1), the nation’s biggest race for 3-year-old fillies, is May 6 at Churchill Downs. The $3 million Kentucky Derby (G1), the first leg of the Triple Crown, is May 7 at Churchill Downs.

In addition to the Arkansas Derby and Fantasy, post positions also will be drawn Sunday for three other April 2 stakes races – $400,000 Oaklawn Mile (G3) for older horses, $200,000 Carousel for fillies and mares at 6 furlongs and the $150,000 Temperence Hill for older horses at 1 ½ miles.

Among the Fantasy problems listed Saturday morning by the Oaklawn racing department were Beguine, Bubble Rock, Dream Lith, Heartyconstitution, I Feel the Need, Magic Circle, Under the Stars and Yuugiri.

Oaklawn Mile probables, according to the Oaklawn racing department Saturday morning, included Cezanne, Dark Vader, Fulsome, Law Professor, Mo Mosa, Market Analysis, Necker Island, Roadster and Runnin’ Ray.

Oaklawn stakes winner Frank’s Rockette is expected to lead the Carousel field. Millionaire multiple Grade 2 winner Lone Rock and Strong Tide, Oaklawn’s track record holder for 1 3/16 miles, are expected Temperence Hill headliners.

Finish Lines

Beau Luminarie is being pointed for the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses at 1 1/8 miles April 23, trainer Rodolphe Brisset said Thursday morning. Beau Luminarie finished third in the $500,000 Essex Handicap (G3) for older horses at 1 1/16 miles March 19. … New York-based trainer Rob Atras recorded his first career Oaklawn victory in Thursday’s fourth race with favored Shi O’Shi ($3.80). Atras, a former assistant to 2020 Oaklawn training champion Robertino Diodoro, has a small string in Hot Springs for the first time this season, headed by Grade 1 winner Maracuja.

Dash Attack, winner of the $250,000 Smarty Jones Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 mile Jan. 1, worked 5 furlongs in 1:00 Saturday morning for trainer Kenny McPeek. Dash Attack is pointing for the $400,000 Lexington Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles April 16 at Keeneland, McPeek said.

Oaklawn Barn Notes by Robert Yates

Photo: Coady Photography

 

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