Oaklawn Park's stakes program for older horses has received favorable publicity since live racing in Hot Springs ended in April.
Gun Runner's towering victory Saturday in the $1.2 million Whitney at Saratoga marked the second Grade 1 victory of 2017 for the 4-year-old winner of February's Grade 3 Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn. The Candy Ride colt, trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, received a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 112 for his 5 1/2-length romp in upstate New York, one that he finished with a rival's thrown shoe caught in his tail.
Gun Runner came off a June victory in the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs, where he won the Grade 1 Clark Handicap in his last start as a 3-year-old. Gun Runner won the Razorback by 5 3/4 lengths Feb. 20, finishing second to champion colt Arrogate in the $10 million Dubai World Cup in late March.
Stellar Wind, Oaklawn's Apple Blossom Handicap winner in April, scored her third-straight Grade 1 victory in the Clement L. Hirsch July 30 at Del Mar in Southern California, site of this year's Breeders' Cup. Trained by John Sadler, the 5-year-old Curlin mare made her seasonal debut in the Apple Blossom and later won the renamed Grade 1 Beholder Mile at Santa Anita.
In addition, Essex Handicap winner Mor Spirit took the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap in June at New York's Belmont Park. The 4-year-old Eskendereya colt, trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, started a three-race win streak in the March 18 Essex, adding Lone Star Park's Grade 3 Steve Sexton Mile.
Other 2017 Oaklawn stakes winners with stakes victories at other tracks are It Tiz Well (Honeybee) in the Grade 3 Delaware Oaks at Delaware Park, Whitmore (Count Fleet Sprint Handicap, Hot Springs) in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint at Pimlico, Terra Promessa (Pippin, Bayakoa) in the Grade 3 Allaire DuPont Distaff at Pimlico, Recruiting Ready (Bachelor) in the Chick Lang at Pimlico and Chanel's Legacy (Dixie Belle, Martha Washington) in the Panthers at Prairie Meadows.
* From the second crop of 2011 Arkansas Derby winner Archarcharch, Mr. Misunderstood has proven a good investment for Hot Springs thoroughbred owner Staton Flurry.
The 3-year-old gelding earned a fees-paid berth in the Sept. 9 Super Derby with a victory Saturday as the favorite in the $60,000 Prelude at Louisiana Downs. The Bossier City track has switched its premier event, worth $200,000, to grass after 37 years on dirt.
Brad Cox trains Mr. Misunderstood, whom Flurry purchased for $130,000 in a March 2016 Ocala, Fla., sale of 2-year-olds in training. The Prelude marked the gelding's first start since placing seventh in the Grade 3 Illinois Derby on Hawthorne's dirt track April 22. A maiden winner last fall at Indiana Grand, Mr. Misunderstood won three in a row at Fair Grounds.
The Prelude victory continued the strong working relationship between Flurry, 27, and jockey Chris Rosier, 36, who suffers from Type 1 diabetes. Rosier, currently represented by former jockey Don Simington, rode eventual champion Summer Bird to a sixth-place finish in the 2009 Kentucky Derby at 43-1 odds.
"Loyalty in racing is hard to come by sometimes, but Staton and I hit it off and he has supported me," Rosier said in a Paulick Report profile this week. "He calls me his 'little' older brother.
"There were other agents pushing riders to Brad (Cox), but he and Staton believed in me. Winning the Prelude on a quality horse meant a lot."
* Arkansas Derby winner Classic Empire has not run since finishing second by a head to Cloud Computing in the May 20 Preakness at Pimlico. Trainer Mark Casse has penciled in a Sept. 23 return for John Oxley's Pioneerof the Nile colt in the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby .
A troubled fourth in the May 6 Kentucky Derby, won by Always Dreaming, Classic Empire was forced to miss the June 10 Belmont Stakes (Tapwrit) because of a foot abscess. The 2016 male juvenile champion has a back issue that will keep him out of the Aug. 26 Grade 1 Travers at Saratoga. He has not recorded an official work since June 2 at Churchill Downs but "looked great," Casse said, after an appearance Monday.
"We're not going to make the Travers, obviously," Casse said, "but now we are aiming for the Pennsylvania Derby."
Tiznow, in 2000, is the last male 3-year-old champion not to win a Triple Crown event or the Travers.Sports on 08/10/2017
Print Headline: Oaklawn winners score big at other tracks