Summer Shoes and Chel-c Bailey win the Downthedustyroad (Coady Photography)
Gar Hole Successfully Defends Nodouble Title
Oaklawn Park Press Release
HOT SPRINGS, Ark.— Jockey Chel-C Bailey and John Carver’s Summer Shoes have made a formidable team over the last year, winning four of five starts together and on Saturday, they both collected their first career stakes win in the $150,000 Downthedustyroad Breeders’ Stakes before on-track crowd of 30,000.
Summer Shoes broke alertly and dueled with defending Downthedustyroad winner Connie K through early fractions of :22 2/5 and :45 4/5 for the first half mile. The winner began to shake free around the turn for home and was able to take a little breather before holding off a late challenge by Kaboom Baby to win 1 ½ length in 1:10 3/5 for six furlongs over a fast track. Connie K, the 7-5 favorite, held on for third.
Summer Shoes, a 5-year-old Commander’s Shoes mare trained by Tom Swearingen, has now won four of six career starts and has earned $285,050. She returned $6.50, $3.80 and $2.40 as the 2-1 second choice.
Two races later, Gar Hole impressively defended his title in the $150,000 Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes for owner Shortleaf Stable Inc., trainer John Ortiz and jockey Ricardo Santana Jr.
Gar Hole broke sharp and never looked back, setting fractions of :22 3/5 and :45 2/5 for the first half mile. He continued to hold a comfortable advantage entering the stretch and had plenty left to hold of Twisted Dixie by 1 ½ lengths in 1:10 for six furlongs over a fast track. The veteran Bandit Point closed well for third for trainer Robert Cline, who also trains Twisted Dixie.
Gar Hole, 5-year-old homebred by Tekton, improved his record to six wins from 10 starts and has now earned $451,124. He returned $2.80, $2.40 and $2.10 as the heavy 2-5 favorite.
Live racing resumes tomorrow with a 12:30 p.m. first post.
Winning jockey Chel-c Bailey: “Check that off the bucket list (first career stakes victory). The only horses I was looking at were Connie K and Unbridled Twister and when I went past them, I wasn’t going to wait for them. It’s not a mile. She set the tone and I know her. I knew her game was on. She’s a fantastic filly. I know her inside and out. Yeah, mission complete.”
Winning trainer Tom Swearingen: “She was on her toes today. When she’s flat, she’s not herself. She’s always been a happy horse. I didn’t expect it (to be ahead of Connie K early). Our plan was to just lay off her, let her go ahead and get the run out of her that she had and try to run her down late. She (Summer Shoes) just got ahead of her quicker than we anticipated, but Chel-c (Bailey) said she took her there and she was doing it easy. So, it all worked out.”
Winning jockey Ricardo Santana Jr.: “He’s a nice horse. The last time he ran (King Cotton Stakes), those horses are going to be some of the best sprinters this year, 2023. He finished fourth, an Arkie-bred, against that company of horses. I was happy I won the race (aboard Gunite). We ran 1:08. He fought until the end with Johnny V. (John Velazquez). I was really, really confident with him today. I know the last race was going to hurt him a little bit, so I didn’t want to do much with him today. He was much the best today.”
Winning trainer John Ortiz: “He did what he was supposed to do. He’s been preparing for this race since he came off the layoff. All the other races were steppingstones to get to here. The last race was obviously a big step up for him. He ran a really great race in the King Cotton. It just kind of set him up for this race. We’re just happy to see him back in the winner’s circle.”