By Dick Downey
Oaklawn didn’t open its track Thursday morning for training, but their trainers got Southwest Stakes candidates Tapiture and Walt on the worktab anyway.
Steve Asmussen and Chris Hartman sent them out to work in the afternoon between the first and second races. As of this post, neither work was published yet at Equibase.
Asmussen’s Kentucky Jockey Club winner Tapiture, who's been training at Fair Grounds, worked a half mile in :50.00 in his first effort over the Oaklawn surface. He most recent work had come on Feb. 3 in New Orleans.
“I loved it,” said Asmussen. “The horse went over the racetrack well. That’s what we were hoping for. He showed up fit. I just wanted to give him a little feel of the race track.”
Hartman worked Smarty Jones runner-up Walt a half-mile in company with maiden Skydive under jockey Ken Tohill. He covered the distance in :47.20. Afterward, Hartman said a final decision on whether to run Walt on Monday is forthcoming.
“It was a good work,” said Hartman. “It wasn’t exactly how we had planned it, because the other horse was supposed to be in front to start, but Walt finished up well, which was what we were looking for. We’ll see how he is in the morning and make our final decision about the race.”
Entries for the Southwest will be taken Friday morning, and a field of between 10 and 12 horses is expected. Probables include Bourbonize, Coastline, Jet Cat, Kendall’s Boy, Louies Flower, Paganol, Ride On Curlin, Son of Dixie, Strong Mandate, Tapiture, Tanzanite Cat, and Walt.
Louies Flower, the Springboard Mile winner, and Son of Dixie are both trained by Bret Calhoun, who said they worked at Evangeline Training Center on Wednesday after being shipped there to get away from the winter weather in Hot Springs. It's about six hours south.
“Louies Flower and Son of Dixie both worked an easy half and galloped out 7/8ths,” Calhoun said. “It was a nice controlled work and went perfect. The plan right now is to run both in the Southwest. Both horses will ship back to Oaklawn on Saturday.”
Cody Autrey is also is likely to have two runners in the Southwest with Smarty Jones winner Tanzanite Cat and Oaklawn maiden winner Paganol. They share common ownership and also were sent to Evangeline.
“They worked together in 48 and a tick and galloped out in 1:01 3/5,” said Autrey. “That’s a real good work for that track.”
Paganol will be ridden by Oaklawn’s leading rider Norberto Arroyo Jr., and Tanzanite Cat will be ridden by the Southern California-based Corey Nakatani.
“Corey’s a good friend and a world class rider,” said Autrey. “He’s ridden a lot of winners for me.”
The $300,000 Southwest Stakes will be part of a special Presidents Day card at Oaklawn. First post is 1 p.m.