Defining Purpose breaks her maiden Nov. 17 at Churchill Downs (Coady Photography)
Oaklawn Park Press Release
HOT SPRINGS, Ark.— Defining Purpose has been installed the 7-5 program favorite for the inaugural $150,000 Year’s End Stakes for 2-year-old fillies Saturday at Oaklawn.
Probable post time for the 1-mile Year’s End, the ninth of 10 races, is 4:14 p.m. (Central). Racing begins at 12:30 p.m. The card, the first in Oaklawn history exclusively for 2-year-olds, also features the inaugural $150,000 Renaissance Stakes at 6 furlongs.
The projected nine horse Year’s End field from the rail out:
Defining Purpose, David Cabrera to ride, 117 pounds, 7-5 on the morning line; Unifying, Ricardo Santana Jr., 117, 12-1; Taxed, Joe Talamo, 117, 20-1; Midnight Heiress, Angel Rodriguez, 117, 8-1; Charlee Mae, Nik Juarez, 117, 20-1; Take Charge Briana, Cristian Torres, 117, 6-1; Bluelightspecial, Francisco Arrieta, 117, 9-2; Need Some Money, Gabriel Saez, 117, 12-1; and Fabulous Candy, John Hiraldo, 117, 5-1.
The Year’s End is the first major local prep for the $200,000 Martha Washington Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles Jan. 28. The Martha Washington is Oaklawn’s first of three Kentucky Oaks points races. The series continues with the $300,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) Feb. 25 and the $600,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 1. Those races are also 1 1/16 miles.
A $120,000 allowance race at 1 mile last New Year’s Eve at Oaklawn – rebranded in 2022 as the Year’s End Stakes – was won by Secret Oath, who captured the Martha Washington and Honeybee in her next two starts. After finishing third against males in the $1.25 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn, Secret Oath won the $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) last May at Churchill Downs. The Kentucky Oaks is the country’s biggest race for 3-year-old fillies.
Defining Purpose, who has raced around two turns in all three career starts, broke her maiden by six front-running lengths Nov. 17 at Churchill Downs. Returning nine days later for trainer Kenny McPeek, Defining Purpose finished fifth, beaten 6 ¼ lengths, by the highly regarded Hoosier Philly in the $400,000 Golden Rod Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs. Defining Purpose was only beaten 1 ¼ lengths for second in the 1 1/16-mile Golden Rod.
“We got ambitious with her in that last run at Churchill,” McPeek said. “There was a really good filly that won the race, of course. She acts like a filly with a lot of talent. She handled the wheel back and short rest at Churchill and this timing is really good for her. I think it’s five weeks in between races. Like anything, we want to see if she’s a black-type filly and if she’s competitive, then we’ll go on down that path – Martha Washington, Honeybee, Fantasy route. And if she’s not, then we’ll regress to (allowance) other than.”
Defining Purpose races for a trio of owners, including McPeek’s wife, Sherri, and breeder Colette Marie Vanmatre.
Fabulous Candy returns to stakes company after an entry-level allowance victory at 1 mile and 70 yards Nov. 2 at Delaware Park for trainer Chelsey Moysey and owner Lewis Mathews of Bismarck, Ark. After breaking her maiden by 10 ½ lengths sprinting Sept. 2, Fabulous Candy stretched out to finish fourth in the $100,000 White Clay Creek Stakes at 1 mile Oct. 14. Those races were also at Delaware Park.
“I love her post position,” Moysey said. “Honestly, you can kind of put her anywhere and she’s going to do well. I’m happy with the post. I think it’s a lighter field than I was expecting. I think some of the better horses went other places. Not too thrilled about the weather, but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be as bad, maybe.”
Take Charge Briana broke her maiden sprinting Sept. 4 at Saratoga for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, but was pulled up and vanned off in the Golden Rod. The daughter of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin returned with a half-mile work in :48.80 Dec. 11 at Oaklawn in advance of the Year’s End.
“That’s a good spot for her,” Lukas said. “A real good spot.”
Defining Purpose, Unifying, Take Charge Briana and Need Some Money will be racing on the anti-bleeder medication Lasix for the first time Saturday. Bluelightspecial removes blinkers for trainer Cipriano Contreras.
Unifying marked the first career winner for trainer Riley Mott, who went out on his own Nov. 1 after assisting his father, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, for eight years. Unifying, who broke her maiden Nov. 10 at Churchill Downs, will be Riley Mott’s first career stakes starter.