Yuugiri kicks off her 2023 campaign with a win in the Carousel (Coady Photography)
Ortiz Waiting for Allowance Spot for Barber Road
Oaklawn Barn Notes by Robert Yates
HOT SPRINGS, Ark.— Trainer Rodolphe Brisset has a plan for Yuugiri and so far, that plan has worked to perfection after she moved to 2 for 2 this season at Oaklawn with a sharp victory in the $150,000 Carousel Stakes for older females at 6 furlongs Feb. 25.
Brisset was using the Carousel as Yuugiri’s audition for the $600,000 Madison Stakes (G1) at 7 furlongs April 8 at Keeneland. Yuugiri passed the test, earning high marks from Brisset for her push-button style in a 3 ½-length victory over the speedy Pretty Birdie.
Yuugiri, who was ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., dueled early with Pretty Birdie on the inside, dropped back on the turn, then ranged up on the outside turning for home. Yuugiri drew abreast of Pretty Birdie in midstretch and was pulling away at the finish. Favored Yuugiri ($5) covered the distance in 1:10.17 over a sloppy track.
“They ran :44 (for a half-mile) and he decided to take her back a little bit, gave her a breather and she re-engaged,” Brisset said. “We know she knows how to dig in. She won at a mile and a sixteenth. I told him, Ricardo, that it was up to him if he wanted to keep ding-donging all the way around. I would have been OK with that. At some point, somebody’s got to give up and she likes a dogfight. She carried her speed going two turns last year, so I think 7 furlongs, at some point, is going to be very dangerous for the others because she’s got that speed to clear the field and she can dig in going further.”
The Carousel marked Yuugiri’s third victory in four career starts at Oaklawn. She won the $600,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles last April and her Dec. 30 allowance comeback sprinting. Yuugiri is 3 for 3 in her career sprinting (all at 6 furlongs) and will remain around one turn this year, Brisset said, in pursuit of a Grade 1 victory to enhance her broodmare value.
“It (Carousel) just confirmed what we knew,” Brisset said. “Obviously, she’s fast enough to sprint 6 furlongs, but I think 7 furlongs can be even better.”
Road to the Winner’s Circle
After scratching from a 1 1/16-mile allowance race Friday because of an off track, 2022 Arkansas Derby runner-up Barber Road worked 4 furlongs in :47.40 Sunday morning for trainer John Ortiz. Barber Road galloped out 5 furlongs in 1:00.60 over the fast surface.
Barber Road, who breezed with stablemate Ice Orchid, returned to Oaklawn with the goal of running in the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses at 1 1/8 miles April 22. But three consecutive allowance losses at the 2022-2023 meeting, and 10 consecutive overall dating to November 2021, have jeopardized those plans, Ortiz said Saturday morning.
“He’s doing really well,” said Ortiz, who trains Barber Road for former Walmart executive William Simon. “He’s been a horse that’s always had bad luck in races. We’re just trying to get over that hump. He needs to win. He hasn’t won in over a year. I don’t want him to become a herd animal because it becomes a herd mentality. They never learn how to win. I don’t want that to be an issue.”
Ortiz said he will wait for another allowance spot for Barber Road, who, despite winning only 2 of 13 career starts, has bankrolled $697,810. The Oaklawn Handicap, Ortiz said, is still in play if Barber Road can quickly regain his 3-year-old form, when he also finished second in Oaklawn’s $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles and the $250,000 Smarty Jones Stakes at 1 mile. Barber Road ran sixth in the Kentucky Derby.
“I mean, it’s still a goal, but he’s got to win,” Ortiz said.
Chel-c Bailey, Oaklawn’s champion apprentice jockey at the 2021-2022 meeting, recorded her first career stakes victory aboard Summer Shoes ($6.40) in Saturday’s $150,000 Downthedustyroad Breeders’ for Arkansas-bred female sprinters. … Heavily favored Gar Hole ($2.80) repeated in Saturday’s $150,000 Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes for Arkansas-bred sprinters. The Nodouble marked the fifth victory at the meeting for Arkansas lumberman John Ed Anthony, who bred and owns Gar Hole, and a record-extending 284th in his Oaklawn career. … Millionaire multiple Grade 2 winner Lone Rock worked a half-mile in :50 Sunday morning for trainer Robertino Diodoro in advance of the gelding’s scheduled 2023 debut in the $150,000 Temperence Hill Stakes for older horses at 1 ½ miles April 2 at Oaklawn. … Cindy Murphy, Oaklawn all-time winningest female rider, was on the grounds Sunday morning breezing horses for her husband, trainer Travis Swan Murphy. Cindy Murphy has 183 career victories at Oaklawn, the last coming in 2006.