Hoosier Philly Hopes to Capture Some Bling

April 27, 2024

Hoosier Hoosier Philly winning the Monomoy Girl. (Coady Photography)

Valentine Candy Goes for 4th Oaklawn Stakes

By Robert Yates

HOT SPRINGS, AR – Graded stakes winners Hoosier Philly and Crypto Mo are among nine horses entered in the second running of the Dig A Diamond.

Hoosier Philly, the 2-1 program favorite, is scheduled to break from post 3 under Rafael Bejarano. Hoosier Philly finished an even fifth in her 4-year-old debut, the $250,000 Matron Stakes for older female sprinters March 30 at Oaklawn. Hoosier Philly removes blinkers in her return to a route race.

“I was actually disappointed,” Amoss said, referring to the Matron. “I thought we were in really good position and the race really didn’t back up. But I thought she might show a little bit more kick. Again, her preferred distances are two-turn races, and it was her first start off the bench. So, I forgive it and she’s trained really well.”

Hoosier Philly’s biggest career victory to date came in the $400,000 G2-Golden Rod Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles in November 2022 at Churchill Downs. 

Crypto Mo (5-2) was a front-running winner of the $225,000 G3-Iowa Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles July 8 at Prairie Meadows. Crypto Mo resurfaced in the $60,000 Spotted Horse Stakes April 5 at Evangeline Downs – her first start for trainer Brad Cox – and finished second in the one-mile race.

Crypto Mo made her 3-year-old debut in an allowance sprint last April at Oaklawn for trainer Travis Swan Murphy. The Iowa Oaks was the 2,000th career victory for Murphy’s wife, now-retired jockey Cindy Murphy, the winningest female rider in Oaklawn history.

Crypto Mo moved to Cox after selling for $500,000 in July’s Fasig-Tipton Horses of Racing Age Sale. Indiana-bred standout Bluelightspecial (7-2) exits an allowance victory at 1 1/16 miles April 4 at Oaklawn for co-owner/trainer Cipriano Contreras.

The Dig A Diamond Field

Valentine Candy Goes for 4th Oaklawn Stakes

Valentine Candy scoring a sloppy The Ozark victory.  (Coady Media/Kurtis Coady)
Valentine Candy scoring a sloppy The Ozark victory. (Coady Media/Kurtis Coady)

Valentine Candy can become the first horse in 33 years to win four Oaklawn stakes races at the same meeting in Saturday’s $200,000 Bachelor for 3-year-old sprinters.

The Bachelor and $200,000 Dig A Diamond Stakes for older fillies and mares at one mile headline an 11-race card that begins at 12:30 p.m. (Central). Probable post time for the Bachelor (Race 8) is 4:20 p.m. CDT. The Dig A Diamond (Race 10) will be run at approximately 5:38 p.m.

Valentine Candy races for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and an ownership group that includes Texans William and Corinne Heiligbrodt. Asmussen and the Heiligbrodts teamed to win the 2018 Bachelor with future Eclipse Award recipient Mitole and last year’s running with Ryvit.

Valentine Candy, a son of 2018 Triple Crown champion Justify, is three for three at the meeting after winning the $150,000 Advent Stakes at 5 ½ furlongs Dec. 8, $150,000 Renaissance Stakes at six furlongs Dec. 31 and $150,000 Ozark Stakes at six furlongs Feb. 10.

“With the Heiligbrodts, we’ve had some beautiful sprinters and some extremely good horses,” Asmussen said. “I expect this one to be another one.”

Overpeer was a four-time stakes winner at the 1991 Oaklawn meeting. 

In addition to Valentine Candy, the 5-2 program favorite, Asmussen is scheduled to start Cats by Five (6-1) in pursuit of a record-extending 114th career Oaklawn stakes victory and a single-season Oaklawn record 10th stakes victory. Asmussen could also become the first trainer in Oaklawn history to win the same stakes race nine times. Asmussen has eight victories in the Bachelor and Carousel. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has eight victories in the Rebel, traditionally Oaklawn’s third Kentucky Derby points race.

Valentine Candy returns to dirt after prepping for the Bachelor with a fourth-place finish in the $250,000 Animal Kingdom Stakes over a synthetic surface March 23 at Turfway Park. The Animal Kingdom was six furlongs.

Time for Truth cuts back to a sprint after finishing sixth in the $1.5 million G1-Arkansas Derby March 30 for trainer Ron Moquett. Time for Truth was a front-running 1 ¾-length debut winner at six furlongs Dec. 31, then was favored over Valentine Candy in the Ozark. Time for Truth, facing winners for the first time, finished second, beaten 2 ½ lengths, after leading for the initial five furlongs.

The Bachelor field

“It’s a reset,” Moquett said. “We know he can do that (sprint). So, we’re going to reset him. We know that he’s OK with other distances, but right now that’s what’s here and he gets to run on a familiar surface. Kind of reset him and we’ll figure out what to do after this.”

Bergen also returns to sprinting for trainer Brad Cox after finishing eighth in the one-mile $300,000 G3-Gotham Stakes March 2 at Aqueduct. Bergen, in his 3-year-old debut, won Aqueduct’s six-furlong $100,000 Jimmy Winkfield Stakes Jan 27.

The speedy Frost Free also returns to sprinting after finishing third in the one mile $200,000 Hot Springs Stakes for trainer Brett Creighton. Frost Free finished fifth in the Renaissance and was a sharp first-level allowance winner sprinting March 1 at Oaklawn. Frost Free, who adds blinkers, led at every point of call in his victory.

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