Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Honeybee Produces 1-2 Finishers of Grade 1 Alabama Stakes

Maybe the key race of the 2017 Oaklawn meeting was flattered again when Elate and It Tiz Well ran 1-2, respectively, in the $600,000 Alabama Stakes (G1) for 3-year-old fillies Saturday at Saratoga.

Elate, a daughter of Oaklawn stakes winners Medaglia d’Oro and Cheery, finished 5 ½ lengths ahead of It Tiz Well in the prestigious 1 ¼-mile race. It Tiz Well and Elate finished first and third, respectively, in the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 11 at Oaklawn, a 1 1/16-mile race that was the final major local prep for the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 14.

Post-Honeybee results have been spectacular, with six of the 11 starters returning to win stakes races: Ever So Clever, Fantasy; Benner Island, $200,000 Eight Belles (G2) at Churchill Downs; Someday Soon, $75,000 Tomboy at Belterra; Chanel’s Legacy, $65,000 Panthers at Prairie Meadows; It Tiz Well, $300,000 Delaware Oaks (G3) at Delaware Park; and Elate, $50,000 Light Hearted Stakes at Delaware Park and the Alabama.

Ridden Saturday by Jose Ortiz, Saratoga’s leading rider, Elate covered the 1 ¼ miles over a fast track in 2:02.19 for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, who led the Oaklawn standings in 1986. Elate ($10.60) won for the third time in eight starts to increase her lifetime earnings to $530,325. She races for her breeders, Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider. They also bred and owned Cheery, who concluded her racing career with a victory in the $60,000 American Beauty Stakes in 2013 at Oaklawn.

Medaglia d’Oro broke his maiden at the 2002 Oaklawn meeting for four-time Oaklawn training champion David Vance. Sold privately following his maiden victory, Medaglia d’Oro returned to Hot Springs the following year to win the $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel.

Two other Honeybee starters, My Sweet Stella and Lovely Bernadette, have subsequently won allowance/optional claiming events, with the latter also finishing third in the $100,000 Pucker Up Stakes (G3) Aug. 12 at Arlington Park. My Sweet Stella ran second in an allowance/optional claimer Friday at Saratoga.
 
He’s No. 1

Gun Runner, who began his 4-year-old campaign with a runaway victory in the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) Feb. 20 at Oaklawn, tops the weekly National Thoroughbred Racing Association Poll for horses of all ages released Monday.

Reigning Horse of the Year Arrogate had held the No. 1 ranking for the first 29 weeks this year before falling to second following his runner-up finish in the $1 million Pacific Classic (G1) Saturday at Del Mar.

Gun Runner is 3 for 4 this year, including an easy victory in the $1.2 million Whitney Stakes (G1) Aug. 5 at Saratoga in his last start. Gun Runner had been second to Arrogate in the poll’s previous 21 weeks.

Collected, who entered the poll at No. 4 following his front-running half-length victory in the Pacific Classic, is unbeaten in four starts this year (all stakes).

Collected, as the 5-2 favorite, finished fourth in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds last year at Oaklawn. The 2-3-4 finishers in the Southwest, Whitmore, American Dubai and Collected, respectively, have combined for nine stakes victories this year.

Whitmore is a three-time stakes winner in 2017, including the $125,000 Hot Springs March 11 at Oaklawn and $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 15 at Oaklawn.

Oaklawn-raced horses hold four of the top six positions in this week’s NTRA Poll for horses of all ages.

In addition to No. 1 Gun Runner (27 first-place votes and 394 points) and Collected (235), Stellar Wind is No. 5 (213) and Mor Spirit is No. 6 (166).  Stellar Wind, the country’s champion 3-year-old filly of 2015, won the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 14 at Oaklawn. Mor Spirit won the $250,000 Essex Handicap March 18 at Oaklawn.

Rankings are based on the votes of sports and thoroughbred racing media representatives, with points awarded on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.

Hail to the Chief

Chief Know It All, in first start for Robertino Diodoro, second in the Oaklawn trainer standings this year, was a half-length winner of the $150,000 Canadian Derby (G3) Saturday at Northlands Park in Edmonton, Alberta.

Chief Know It All began his 3-year-old campaign with an allowance/optional claiming victory Jan. 27 at Oaklawn. He then ran 10th in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 20 at Oaklawn. He made his first 10 career starts for Brad Cox, third in the trainer standings, before being claimed by Diodoro for $100,000 out of a runner-up finish in an allowance/optional claimer June 30 at Churchill Downs.

Chief Know It All ($6.30) raised his career earnings to $216,020 following his victory in the Canadian Derby, his fourth in 11 starts overall. Ridden by Rico W. Walcott, he covered 1 3/8 miles over a fast track in 2:17.06.

Walcott also guided the Diodoro-trained Broadway Empire and Edison to Canadian Derby victories in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

Chief Know It All, a gray son of Flashy Bull, is co-owned by Randy Howg. Diodoro and Howg, who are both Canadian, teamed to win the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 15 at Oaklawn with Inside Straight.

This year’s Southwest Stakes has also produced Kentucky Derby runner-up Lookin At Lee and Hence, winner of the $800,000 Sunland Derby (G3) March 26 at Sunland Park and $250,000 Iowa Derby (G3) July 7 at Prairie Meadows.
 
Finish Lines

Katie Clawson, Oaklawn’s leading apprentice jockey this year, finished 7th, 10th and second in her first three mounts Sunday and Monday at Saratoga. Clawson has a meet-high 71 victories at Indiana Grand. … Kelly’s Humor ($24.40) remained unbeaten in two career starts with a one-length victory in Sunday’s $75,000 Ellis Park Debutante Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. It marked trainer Brad Cox’s first stakes victory for new clients Ike and Dawn Thrash, who campaigned 2010 Arkansas Derby winner Line of David. … Hall of Famer Jack Van Berg, Oaklawn’s co-sixth-leading trainer this year, finished second with Northern Trail in Sunday’s $75,000 Ellis Park Juvenile for 2-year-olds. Northern Trail, who is owned by Jerry Caroom of Hot Springs, went off at 81-1.
 
 

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