Today’s Oaklawn Park barn notes by the track’s publicity department:
Super Steed, winner of the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 18 at Oaklawn, is off the Kentucky Derby trail because of bone bruising in a front leg, trainer Larry Jones said Sunday morning.
Jones said the problem was discovered Saturday and isn’t career threatening, but Super Steed will need 60-90 days off and thus miss anticipated starts in Oaklawn’s final two Kentucky Derby points races – $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) March 16 and the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 13. Super Steed was a three-quarter length winner of the Southwest, which marked the biggest career victory for the son of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver.
“He came out of that last race with a little more of an issue than I realized,” Jones said. “We did some X-rays and it just looks like if we don’t stop now, we’re going to run into trouble. Thank God, there’s no surgery, nothing is needed. He just needs rest.”
Campaigned by his breeder, Mike Pressley, and Steed Jackson, Super Steed broke his maiden by six lengths against allowance company Nov. 24 at Churchill Downs. After disappointing performances in the $74,250 Sugar Bowl Stakes Dec. 22 at Fair Grounds and the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 25 at Oaklawn, Super Steed won the Southwest with a powerful five-wide move on the backstretch under Terry Thompson.
“It’s one of these FRAM oil filter deals – pay me now or pay me later,” Jones said. “We could probably get another race out of him. We would probably be OK, but probably wouldn’t come out of it as good as what we went in. He’s going to have to get a little time. He’s getting bone bruising and he’s only going to get worse.”
Jones said Super Steed will be sent to Kentucky to recover.
Smarty Jones winner Gray Attempt will also miss the Rebel because of a minor setback, trainer Jinks Fires said Sunday morning. Fires said the hope is Gary Attempt, who finished 11th in the Southwest, can make the Arkansas Derby.
Two starts. Two victories. Three records. That’s the slash line this year for Amy’s Challenge, who recorded her third career Oaklawn stakes victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Spring Fever for older females at 5 ½ furlongs.
Ridden by Alex Canchari, favored Amy’s Challenge ($3.80) set stakes records for time (1:03.10) and margin of victory (8 ¼ lengths) to remain unbeaten in six career starts at 6 furlongs or less.
“She came back a little tired,” Robertson said Sunday morning. “Long day for her. She was a little keyed up in the paddock yesterday, but then she settled down at the end.”
Amy’s Challenge set a stakes record (1:09.32) in winning the $100,000 American Beauty Stakes – her 4-year-old debut – by 5 ¾ lengths Jan. 26. She also won Oaklawn’s $125,000 Dixie Belle Stakes in her 3-year-old debut.
Robertson said next-race plans are pending for Amy’s Challenge, but mentioned the $150,000 Carousel Stakes April 6 at Oaklawn, $300,000 Madison Stakes (G1) April 6 at Keeneland and the $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 13 at Oaklawn as possible targets.
The Carousel and Madison are restricted to females. The Count Fleet is an open event.
Amy’s Challenge has a 6-1-1 record from 10 starts overall and earnings of $359,156. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Artie Schiller is owned by Novogratz Racing Stables Inc. Amy’s Challenge beat males in her first two career starts at Canterbury Park, including the $80,000 Shakopee Juvenile Stakes in September 2017.
Amy’s Challenge received a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 98, a career high, for her Spring Fever victory.
Multiple stakes winner Mitole dazzled in his 4-year-old debut, rolling to a 4 ¼-length allowance victory in Saturday’s seventh race under regular rider Ricardo Santana Jr.
Unraced since May, favored Mitole ($2.80) covered 6 furlongs over a fast track in a meet-best 1:08.99 to receive a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 102.
“It’s hard to explain, but I missed him,” Santana said Sunday morning. “Wow!”
Mitole broke his maiden by 10 lengths last year at Oaklawn before winning its $150,000 Bachelor Stakes by nine lengths when he ran 6 furlongs in 1:08.41.
Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen trains Mitole for longtime clients William and Corinne Heiligbrodt. Mitole, by Eskendereya has won four consecutive starts and is 5 for 8 overall with earnings of $401,510. He was coming off a 6 ¼-length victory in the $200,000 Chick Lang Stakes at Pimlico.
Mitole represented Santana’s 495th career victory for Asmussen. Santana has won six consecutive Oaklawn riding titles, while Asmussen has collected nine local training titles since 2007.
She’s a Julie, powerful winner of the $200,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) for older fillies and mares, worked 5 furlongs in 1:03.80 Sunday morning for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. … Grade 1 winner Eskimo Kisses is returning to Oaklawn for the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) for older fillies and mares March 16, trainer Kenny McPeek said Saturday. Eskimo Kisses broke her maiden and was a first-level allowance winner at last year’s Oaklawn meeting before capturing the $600,000 Alabama Stakes (G1) for 3-year-old fillies last summer at Saratoga. … Cowboy Diplomacy, champion Monomoy Girl’s 3-year-old full brother, worked a half-mile in :49.60 after the renovation break Sunday morning for trainer Brad Cox. Cowboy Diplomacy finished second sprinting in his Feb. 8 career debut, but Cox said he’s looking at two-turn race for the son of Tapizar. That Feb. 8 winner, Captain Von Trapp, returned to win his two-turn debut in Saturday’s second race for Asmussen. … A recent Oaklawn arrival for Cox is Night Ops, a 3-year-old Warrior’s Reward colt previously with trainer Keith Desormeaux. Night Ops, as a maiden, finished eighth in the $200,000 LeComte Stakes (G3) Jan. 19 at Fair Grounds in his last start. … Through Saturday, the 22nd day of the scheduled 57-day season, 217 claims totaled $3,446,000.