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Oaklawn Trims Purses at Start of Meet

Approximate 15% reduction in overnight purses from first condition book.

Overnight purses have been reduced in advance of the start of the Oaklawn Park meet, a 57-day run which will begin Jan. 22. The Arkansas track is making the move due to limiting attendance because of social distancing requirements because of COVID-19. The news was first reported by Mary Rampellini of Daily Racing Form, who reported average daily purses will be about $600,000 instead of the originally projected $700,000, for about a 15% reduction. Stakes purses will not be altered.

An Oaklawn spokesperson confirmed the track’s first condition book is being reprinted with the new overnight purse structure.

OAKLAWN TO ALLOW A LIMITED NUMBER OF FANS IN 2021

Pursuant to the Arkansas Department of Health directive, Oaklawn plans to conduct the 2021 live meet with limited spectators. The 57-day season runs from Friday, Jan. 22 – Saturday, May 1.

“We’ve been working on plans covering numerous scenarios and we’re happy to announce we will be welcoming back race fans in 2021, albeit on a limited basis,” General Manager Wayne Smith said. “We know that the fans are what make Oaklawn so special, but our main concern is for the safety and well-being of our guests and team members. We appreciate the support we have received from the Arkansas Department of Health in developing this plan. We will be working with them throughout the live season and will adjust as needed.”

In accordance with the guidelines set forth by the Arkansas Department of Health, Oaklawn has submitted a plan to allow a limited number of spectators at the races during the 2021 live race meet highlighted by the following:

• General admission into the Grandstand will not be allowed initially in 2021.
• Entrance into the Grandstand will strictly be for guests with a racing credential and/or reservation for that day’s races. Doors will open at 11 am.
• Current seasonal box seat holders and current Oaklawn Jockey Club members may enter the Grandstand with weekly reservations required. Detailed correspondence to be sent separately to these individuals.
• Restaurants inside the Grandstand, following Arkansas Department of Health directives, will be open to the public with weekly reservations required.
• Simulcast will be open Wednesday–Sunday, 11 am–8 pm to limited capacity with weekly reservations required.
• Social distancing will be enforced.
• All guests and team members will be required to have non-invasive temperature checks as they enter the facility. Anyone presenting a temp at/over 100 degrees Fahrenheit will not be permitted inside the building.
• All guests and team members will be required to wear masks at all times.
• Smoking will not be allowed anywhere inside the facility, including the casino.

Restaurant reservations may be made starting January 18 by calling 501-363-4710.

Simulcast reservations may be made starting January 18 by calling 501-363-4320.

For additional details and future updates, please visit oaklawn.com.

OAKLAWN PLANNING 57-DAY MEET WITH FOUR $1 MILLION STAKES IN 2021

Pending approval from the Arkansas Racing Commission, Oaklawn plans to conduct its regular 57-day meet highlighted by four $1 million stakes races – $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2), $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1), $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) and $1 million Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) – and the richest purse structure in its 117-year history. The 2021 season, which will be accentuated by the opening of a multi-purpose event center and a luxury 200-room hotel overlooking the track, is scheduled to run Friday, Jan. 22 – Saturday, May 1.

In addition, 21 stakes will have their purses raised by at least $25,000, most notably are $150,000 increases to both the Essex Handicap on March 13 and Oaklawn Mile on April 10, which will be worth $500,000 and $400,000, respectively. The purse of the Razorback Handicap (G3) on Saturday, Feb. 13 will be raised by $100,000 to $600,000. All stakes, including ones for state-breds, will be at least $150,000 each.

“We would not be able to once again offer record purses next year if it weren’t for the tremendous support we’ve received from the Arkansas Racing Commission, the horsemen, and our fans in 2020,” Oaklawn President Louis Cella said. “We are excited to continue building on our ‘New Level of Excellence,’ which will include our new hotel, event center, state-of-the-art spa, and additional restaurants, which are all on schedule to open late 2020/early 2021.”

Oaklawn’s rich 3-year-old program for horses with Kentucky Derby aspirations will begin opening day, Jan. 22, with the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes and will culminate closing day, May 1, with the $300,000 Oaklawn Invitational. In between are the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) on Feb. 15, Presidents’ Day Monday, the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) on March 13, and the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) on April 10.

Oaklawn’s five signature races that comprise the traditional Racing Festival of the South will be run over three Saturdays starting with the $600,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies on Kentucky Oaks (G1) trail on April 3.

The $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1), a major stepping stone to the Kentucky Derby, will be run on April 10 along with three other stakes. Oaklawn’s series for older horses culminates on April 17 with the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) and the $1 million Apple Blossom (G1) for fillies and mares.

“Once finalized, the full purse program will be released soon,” added Oaklawn General Manager Wayne Smith. “We anticipate it will exceed $700,000 a day.”

Oaklawn’s 2021 stakes schedule features a total of 33 races worth $11,000,000. Racing will be conducted Friday–Sunday for the first two weeks of the meet and then shift to a Thursday–Sunday schedule starting in February. There will be racing on Presidents’ Day – Monday, Feb. 15, but there will be no racing on Easter Sunday, April 4.

Located in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, Oaklawn has been one of the premiere Thoroughbred racetracks in the country since 1904, best known as home of the $1 million Arkansas Derby. The newly expanded Vegas-style casino features slots, live table games, and sports betting year-round. Live racing held Jan-May and simulcast racing throughout the year. Opening early 2021 are a 200-room luxury hotel, multi-purpose event center, state-of-the-art spa and new dining options. Website – http://www.Oaklawn.com, Phone – 1-800-OAKLAWN.

No Parole Sprints to Victory in Oaklawn Allowance

Son of Violence rebounded from eighth in March 14 Rebel Stakes (G2).

 

The decision to return No Parole to shorter distances proved to be a good one for owners Maggi Moss and Greg Tramontin as the son of Violence  aired in a $61,000 allowance optional claiming race going six furlongs April 24 at Oaklawn Park.

Seeking to rebound from an eighth in the March 14 Rebel Stakes (G2) over a 1 1/16-mile trip, the Tom Amoss trainee was sent off as the even-money favorite in a field of 10 3-year-olds. He ran to his odds under Joe Talamo, finishing under wraps in a final time of 1:09.34 on a fast track.

 

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Storm the Court Confirmed for Arkansas Derby

Juvenile champion finished third in San Felipe Stakes (G2) last out.

 

Southern California-based trainer Peter Eurton said April 21 that he plans to have two entrants in the $750,000 Arkansas Derby (G1) May 2 at Oaklawn Park, including juvenile champion Storm the Court.

The Court Vision  colt worked six furlongs in 1:13 3/5 April 20 at Santa Anita Park in advance of the 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby, which will mark his first start outside California. Storm the Court, campaigned by Exline-Border Racing, David Bernsen, Susanna Wilson, and Dan Hudock, secured an Eclipse Award as the 2019 champion 2-year-old male with a frontrunning victory in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at 45-1.

Eurton said he also plans to enter ERJ Racing, Exline-Border Racing, and Hudock’s Shooters Shoot, a first-level allowance winner at a mile April 11 at Oaklawn, in the Arkansas Derby.

Read BloodHorse Article

Arkansas Derby Attracts 99 Nominations

Large number of candidates could lead to split divisions of grade 1 stakes.

 

Based on nominations alone, the $750,000 Arkansas Derby (G1) figures to have an overflow field.

The reality of the situation, with the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) moved to Sept. 5 and the Preakness Stakes (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1) unlikely to be run in their traditional spots, also paints an equally compelling picture of a large field—and possibly two divisions—when the 1 1/8-mile stakes for 3-year-olds is contested May 2 at Oaklawn Park.

A long list of 99 nominations for the race, pending late mail, was released April 18, and while the vast majority of them have no intention of running, the connections of a core group of about 20 candidates have expressed an interest in a stakes that stands at the moment as the final points race for the Kentucky Derby. It is also five weeks removed from the last grade 1 stakes for 3-year-olds at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has caused uncertainty about when the next major race for the division will be run.

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OAKLAWN MOVES ARKANSAS DERBY TO MAY 2

HOT SPRINGS, AR (Friday, March 20, 2020) – Oaklawn announced today that it is moving its signature race – the Arkansas Derby (G1) – from Saturday, April 11 to Saturday, May 2, closing day of the 2020 live meet. Due to the closing of the casino and racetrack to the public, Oaklawn could have raced with purses intact through April 18, but, upon discussions with the HBPA, decided instead to reduce purses across the board and “stay until May.” As a result, the Arkansas Derby purse will be reduced to $750,000.

“Churchill Downs understands the circumstances created by the current health crisis, and, therefore, will allow the full 170 points towards Kentucky Derby eligibility (now scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 5) as long as we meet the minimum purse threshold of $750,000,” Oaklawn President Louis Cella said. “The purse reductions are across the board. If operations return to normal between now and May, we will adjust them accordingly.”

Of the total 170 points towards Kentucky Derby eligibility, 100 points will be awarded to the winner of the Arkansas Derby.

Oaklawn is also moving the Fantasy Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies Friday, May 1, and will reduce its purse to $400,000, but, like the Arkansas Derby, it will still offer the full 170 points towards eligibility in the Kentucky Oaks (G1), which is now scheduled for Friday, Sept. 4.

The Arkansas Derby and Fantasy are among 15 remaining stakes that have had their purses reduced along with all overnight purses. Other date changes: The Oaklawn Invitational moves to Saturday, April 11 and will carry a $200,000 purse. The Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) moves to Saturday, April 18, and now shares the card with the Apple Blossom Handicap (G1). The Oaklawn Handicap (G2) moves to Saturday, May 2, and now shares the card with the Arkansas Derby (G1).

“We are trying to make the best of a bad situation,” continued Cella. “And we greatly appreciate the cooperation we have received from our horsemen and the Arkansas Racing Commission.”

An announcement regarding all ticket sales and dining reservations will be made at a later date.

Oaklawn’s remaining 2020 stakes schedule is as follows:

2020 Date Race Name Conditions Distance Purse
Saturday, March 21 Gazebo 3-Year-Olds 6 Furlongs $90,000
Saturday, March 28 Nodouble Breeders’ 3-Year Olds & Up, (AR) 6 Furlongs $100,000
Saturday, April 04 Purple Martin 3-Year-Olds, Fillies 6 Furlongs $100,000
Saturday, April 11 The Oaklawn Mile 4-Year-Olds & Up 1 Mile $150,000
Saturday, April 11 The Oaklawn Stakes 3-Year-Olds 1 1/8-Miles $200,000
Friday, April 17 Rainbow Miss 3-Year-Olds, Fillies (AR) 6 Furlongs $100,000
Friday, April 17 Rainbow – Open 3-Year-Olds (AR) 6 Furlongs $100,000
Saturday, April 18 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) 4-Year-Olds & Up 6 Furlongs $350,000
Saturday, April 18 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) 4-Year-Olds & Up, Fillies & Mares 1 1/16-Miles $600,000
Saturday, April 25 Carousel 4-Year-Olds & Up, Fillies & Mares 6 Furlongs $125,000
Saturday, April 25 Bachelor 3-Year-Olds 6 Furlongs $100,000
Friday, May 01 Arkansas Breeders’ Championship 3-Year-Olds & Up (AR) 1 1/16-Miles $165,000
Friday, May 01 Fantasy (G3) 3-Year-Olds, Fillies 1 1/16-Miles $400,000
Saturday, May 02 Arkansas Derby (G1) 3-Year-Olds 1 1/8-Miles $750,000
Saturday, May 02 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) 4-Year-Olds & Up 1 1/8-Miles $600,000

 

Amoss to Self-Quarantine After Interaction With Payton

Trainer added in his tweet that he “will be tested at the earliest possible time.”

Trainer Tom Amoss tweeted March 19 that he would self-quarantine for 14 days after learning that New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton—who was in the winner’s circle with him at Oaklawn Park March 14—tested positive for COVID-19. The trainer added in his tweet that he “will be tested at the earliest possible time” but feels great and has no symptoms.

Amoss, whose primary winter training base is Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in New Orleans, was at Oaklawn in Hot Springs, Ark., to watch Joel Politi’s Serengeti Empress win the March 14 Azeri Stakes (G2) by 6 1/4 lengths under Joe Talamo. Fair Grounds and Oaklawn raced last week, mostly without spectators.

 

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Midnight Fantasy Wins $125,000 Spring Fever Stakes at Oaklawn Park

Spring Fever Stakes
Oaklawn Park, 2-29-20, 5.5 furlongs
Four-Year-Olds and Upwards, Fillies and Mares, $125,000

midnight_fantasy_-_spring_fever_-_32nd_running_-_02-29-20_-_r09_-_op_-_finish_02_big
Midnight Fantasy wins Spring Fever Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Coady Photography

MIDNIGHT FANTASY
Midnight Lute-St. Jean
Breeder: J. Adcock & Hume Wornall
Owner: Carl R. Moore Management LLC
Trainer: Joe Sharp
Jockey: Martin Garcia

2nd
Amy’s Challenge
Artie Schiller-Jump Up
Breeder: Sierra Farm (KY)
Owner: Novogratz Racing Stable Inc.
Trainer: McLean Robertson
Jockey: Alex L. Canchari

3rd
What A Fox
Bernardini-Twisted Tale
Breeder: Gary & Mary West Stables Inc (KY)
Owner: Lawrence P. Roman
Trainer: Robertino Diodoro
Jockey: Orlando Mojica

 

Carl R. Moore Management LLC’s Midnight Fantasy gained the lead at the top of the stretch and had just enough left to hold off defending champion Amy’s Challenge by a neck in Saturday’s $125,000 Spring Fever Stakes before a crowd of 20,000.

Ridden by Martin Garcia, Midnight Fantasy settled behind the early leaders in fourth as Mt. Brave held a narrow advantage through opening fractions of :21.43 and :45.10 for the first half mile. The winner began to make her move rounding the turn for home and was well clear of the field until Amy’s Challenge rallied late. She completed the 5 ½ furlongs in 1:03.61 over a fast track.

“She was doing really good,” Garcia said. “That was exactly where I wanted to be. I was able to stay on the outside and when I asked her to go, she just took off. It was really nice.”

What a Fox finished third and was followed by Mt. Brave, Artistic Diva and 4-5 favorite Break Even.

 

The victory was the second of the day for owner Carl Moore and trainer Joe Sharp and third for jockey Martin Garcia.

When asked if he expected to win two races Saturday, Moore replied, “No. I was just hoping to hit the board twice. It was a tough race. I mean that race right there, she beat some good horses. She ran huge. Joe (Sharp) and I, we talked about it (Spring Fever) and we saw it up here. The distance – she likes 5 1/2 (furlongs). I think she’ll stretch out and go farther, too. We’re trying to decide. She’s doing so good short.”

Midnight Fantasy, a 4-year-old Midnight Lute filly, improved her record to 5-3-0 in 12 career starts and has now earned $327,180. She returned $19.40, $6.60 and $3.80 at odds of 8-1.

Live racing resumes Sunday with a 1:30 p.m. first post.

OAKLAWN ANNOUNCES FIRST PURSE INCREASE OF THE MEET

Keeping with the trend that has become the norm over the last 14 years, Oaklawn’s purses are on the rise again.

Beginning with Saturday’s race card, Oaklawn will increase purses for all overnight races by as much as $4,000.

“This is only possible because of the tremendous support we continue to receive from our horsemen and fans,” Oaklawn President Louis Cella said. “We promised a New Level of Racing at the beginning of the season and we are delivering. Our field sizes (9.5 avg.) are among the highest in nation, we have horsemen participating from both coasts as well as the Midwest, and the fans are responding. We could not be more excited about the rest of the season.”

First level allowance races will be worth at least $90,000, after receiving a $4,000 increase, and maiden special weight races will be boosted to $87,000, with a $2,000 increase. Purses for all claiming races with a claiming price of $20,000 or more will also receive a $2,000 bump, and all other overnight purses are increasing by $1,000 per race.

“Everything is coming together nicely,” Oaklawn General Manager Wayne Smith said. “We have completed the expansion of our casino, and construction is moving right along on the hotel and event center. This is an exciting time for Oaklawn and we are very happy to share our good fortune with the horsemen. It’s awesome to be offering the richest winter racing in North America with allowance races starting over $90,000.”

The purse increase was welcome news to the horsemen.

“I think it’s great,” said trainer Mike Puhich, who is among several new trainers wintering at Oaklawn this year. “Most tracks are kind of hoarding the money, and these guys are throwing it back to the horsemen, which is always good. You love to see that.”

Added trainer Brad Cox, perennially among Oaklawn’s leading trainers. “We’re supporting the program already, but it’s great. These are the best purses in the country. It’s rewarding to show up and have a barn here. It makes it worth your while. It’s great for wintertime racing.”

“I try to run more horses where the money’s at,” owner Mike Waters said. “Every time Oaklawn announces a purse increase, the California and the East Coast guys all take notice. It’s a nice place to run for these purses, that’s for sure.”

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