Trainer Steve Hobby has a dilemma, but it's the kind of dilemma many trainers would gladly wrestle with. After two victories by 3-year-old colts Big Lute and For Greater Glory last weekend, Hobby is trying to figure out the proper next steps and the calendar isn't cooperating.
Owned by Joann and Alex Lieblong, both colts performed strongly enough to crop up on the radar of many trackers of the Kentucky Derby trail. Big Lute won a lucrative maiden race in his career debut last Friday in a time that was faster than older sprinters ran earlier on the card. The effort registered high speed figures in the 90s among the leading public past performance makers.
For Greater Glory got a crafty ride from leading jockey Robby Albarado en route to winning a maiden race at a mile Sunday afternoon. While not as fast or visually impressive, Hobby has reason to believe the choice of what the next race should be has to include stakes options like the $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Feb. 18.
“What to do?” asked Hobby Wednesday morning at Oaklawn. “I'm about a week off from perfect timing. I'd like to get an allowance race, and there's one on the day before the Southwest, but for Big Lute that's just 16 days. And the Southwest is 17. That's pretty quick to come back than I'd like with a second-time starter. But the quandary is wait a little bit more, and where does that put me for the Rebel?”
The $600,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) is March 16 at 1 1/16th miles. The Southwest will also be run at 1 1/16 miles for the first time this year.
“The Southwest is definitely too quick back for For Greater Glory,” said Hobby of his Sunday winner who held on by a neck over Moon Back More, who was hampered by traffic trouble and ran out of time to rally in the short stretch. “Everybody will probably say we probably weren't the best horse in that race, but I told Alex going in that we were about a work or two short. I felt okay at a mile, but not at a mile-sixteen. He's a better horse than he ran and distance is definitely in his future.”
And while Big Lute was sired by champion sprinter and two-time Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Midnight Lute, Hobby feels fairly confident longer, two-turn distance races are in his future.
“I had always heard Midnight Lute had throat surgeries,” he said. “So was he such a good sprinter because he couldn't run long or was he a good sprinter because he couldn't breathe? With this colt I've got Deputy Minister on the mom's side. He's a big, strong, manly son-of-a-buck and he strides like he definitely wants to stretch out. We've got to find that out.”
Hobby also reported 2012 Azeri Stakes (G3) winner Tiz Miz Sue was on target for her seasonal return in the $100,000 Bayakoa Stakes Feb. 16 and that jockey Joe Rocco Jr. would be up from Florida to ride her.
“She's super-duper,” said Hobby. “I told Joe to get his plane ticket and get ready.”
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