Chalk was in short supply on Thursday at Oaklawn Park, one way of saying that most betting favorites did not fare well.
The infield toteboard blew up, so to speak, in the ninth race when Geris Hand, an eight-race maiden with no finish better than fourth, charged home by 1 1/4 lengths at 113-1 odds. Saving you the math, the mutuel payoffs were $228, $47.80 and $26, making Geris Hand easily the highest-paying winner of the 21-day meeting.
A 4-year-old Arkansas-bred filly whose broodmare sire (Geri) won the Oaklawn Handicap, Geris Hand faced maiden $12,500 state-bred claimers in her second start of the season. She campaigned last year at Oaklawn and later at Remington Park for trainer Rick Jackson, twice starting at Louisiana Downs for trainer Morris Nicks.
Now trained by Don Caudill, Geris Hand had Eduardo Gallardo aboard for the second time at the meeting, making a six-wide move on the turn and holding off I Suspect Taylor after six furlongs in 1:13.74. The top two returned a $1 exacta of $367.10 and Geri's Hand completed a $1 daily double of $837.80 with Snickerboxer. The 50-cent pick-five returned $2,657.45 for tickets with four winners.
A 6-year-old gelding claimed for $10,000 at Churchill Downs last November, Snickerboxer ($15.80) became the first three-time winner of the meeting, going a mile in 1:38.44 and edging W B and Me by a length and a quarter in a $40,000 race for claimers entered for $50,000 and $45,000 claimers.
The victory was the meet-high 14th for owner Danny Caldwell and the fourth in a row for Snickerboxer, his other Oaklawn triumphs Jan. 14 and Jan. 28 with Ramon Vazquez aboard. With Vazquez riding favorite Abraham (sixth) for Chris Richard on Thursday, Kevin Roman picked up the mount on Snickerboxer, one of 14 multiple winners at the meeting.
Vazquez regained the lead in the jockey standings with his 23rd victory aboard 5-year-old Rank ($7.20), one of two winning favorites on the nine-race card. Rank, sired by 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Blame, is the sixth winner of the season for Brad Kelley's Calumet Farm, which is expected to enter another Wayne Lukas trainee, Hence, in Monday's Grade 3 $500,000 Southwest for 3-year-olds.
Notes: Eddie Perez had a riding double aboard Mr Pippins ($3.80) for Chris Hartman in the first race and Chocolate Wildcat ($42.60) for Kim Puhl in the fifth. ... New York-bred Noble Freud ($14.20) won her career debut in the seventh for Texarkana owner Dwight Pruett, Jinks Fires training and son-in-law Jon Court riding the 3-year-old filly by prominent New York sire Freud.
Terra Promessa, the last-out Pippin winner, is the early 6-5 favorite in Saturday's $150,000 Bayakoa. Trying for her third Grade 3 victory at Oaklawn, winning the Fantasy and Honeybee last year, the 4-year-old Curlin filly captured her seasonal debut in the Pippin by 2 1/4 lengths over Ready to Confess going a mile and sixteenth in 1:43.16. The Bayakoa, at the same distance, is a prep for the Grade 2 $350,000 Azeri March 18 and the Grade 1 $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap April 14. Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen trains Terra Promessa for the Springstreet Stables of Barbara Banke, widow of Curlin majority owner Jess Jackson. Ricardo Santana Jr. keeps the mount and carries 119 pounds.
Streamline, the 2016 Pippin winner for trainer Brian Williamson, and Super Saks, Oaklawn's 2016 Carousel winner for Wayne Lukas, were among eight entered in the Bayakoa, won last year by the Brad Cox-trained Call Pat. Completing the field are Steel Cut, Hailstorm Slew, Power of Snunner and Impasse. Highlighting the meet's first 10-race card, starting at 1:05 p.m., the Bayakoa is race nine and set for 5:09 p.m.
Entries will be drawn today for the Southwest and the first Monday running of the Grade 3 $500,000 Razorback Handicap, which along with a $55,000 progressive cash giveaway enliven the script on Presidents Day at Oaklawn.Sports on 02/17/2017