Two Eagles River to go the route

January 7, 2023

Two Eagles River (outside) gamely challenged Frosted Departure in the Renaissance Stakes at Oaklawn to come up short by a head on Dec. 31, 2022. (Coady Photography)

Oaklawn Barn Notes by Robert Yates

HOT SPRINGS, Ark.—Two Eagles River received a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 82 for his runner-up finish in the inaugural $150,000 Renaissance Stakes for 2-year-old sprinters Dec. 31 at Oaklawn. 

Favored at 4-5 in his stakes debut, Two Eagles River was beaten a head in the 6-furlong race by the more experienced Frosted Departure after spotting the field several lengths because of an awkward start. Frosted Departure and Two Eagles River raced as a team from the quarter pole to the wire, brushing slightly in the upper stretch, according to footnotes from the official race chart.

“Brutal beat,” said Chris Hartman, who trains Two Eagles River. “Missed the break and thought there may be something, an inquiry on the race, but nothing transpired. He was flat footed at the gate. He stumbled, actually, is what he did. Ground broke out from underneath him and then he’s left five lengths and had too much to overcome. It’s a nice horse. Come back good. We’ll live to fight another day.”

The Renaissance marked the third career start for Two Eagles River, who won his 5-furlong career debut Oct. 30 at Churchill Downs before finishing second, beaten a neck by the highly regarded Victory Formation, in an entry-level allowance sprint Nov. 26 at Churchill Downs. Unbeaten Victory Formation (3 for 3) returned to win the $250,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 1 in his two-turn debut. The 1-mile Smarty Jones was Oaklawn’s first of four Kentucky Derby points races.

Hartman said Two Eagles River will be pointed for a two-turn race. 

“That’s going to be our focus,” Hartman said. “Hopefully, get enough training in him to get him around two turns. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate with us and we’ll get enough training him and get him ready for the next go.”

Hartman said Two Eagles River will be considered for the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles Jan. 28. The Southwest is Oaklawn’s second Kentucky Derby points races. Kavod, after winning the inaugural $150,000 Advent Stakes for 2-year-olds sprinters at the 2021-2022 Oaklawn meeting for Hartman, stretched out to finish fourth in the Smarty Jones and Southwest.

“I wouldn’t say he’s a definite, but I wouldn’t put him out of it,” Hartman said of Two Eagles River. “I mean, it’s going to be a hell of a leap. I think he’s a nice horse, so we’ll see.”

Purchased for $220,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Spring Sale of 2-year-olds in training, Two Eagles River is from the first crop of 2017 Preakness winner Cloud Computing.

The 10-race program Dec. 31 was the first in Oaklawn history exclusively for 2-year-olds. The Hartman-trained Bolt for Allison ($23) won the second race, a $90,000 maiden special weight for fillies at 1 mile. Bolt for Allison became the second winner at the 2022-2023 Oaklawn meeting for her first-crop sire, millionaire Bolt d’Oro. 

“We’ll look for an allowance race for her,” Hartman said. “She ran a nice race.”

Bolt for Allison was the seventh victory at the 2022-2023 Oaklawn meeting for Hartman and his 192nd overall in Hot Springs. He was Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 2015 and entered Friday tied for second this season.

Frosted Departure, who was making his ninth start, was among four winners on the Dec. 31 program for trainer Kenny McPeek. McPeek also won the inaugural $150,000 Year’s End Stakes for fillies at 1 mile with Defining Purpose. McPeek said following the Renaissance that he planned to keep Frosted Departure sprinting.

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