Among the most notable horses to win from a far outside post position at Oaklawn was Sunny's Halo, who wired the field from the 13 hole in the 1983 Arkansas Derby and would capture the Kentucky Derby three weeks later.
Coal Front may have to go one better because he is scheduled to break from post 14 in the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses at 1 1/16 miles Monday at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark. If the 14-horse field remains intact, it will equal the second-largest field in the history of the Razorback, the first major local steppingstone to the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 13.
Probable post time for the Razorback, which goes as the eighth of 10 races, is 4:38 p.m. CT.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Coal Front is the 5-2 program favorite for the Razorback after winning 5 of 7 career starts, including the $100,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes by 3 3/4 lengths Dec. 22 at Gulfstream Park in his last start. Third-place finisher in the seven-furlong Mr. Prospector, Heartwood, returned to win his 2019 debut in the $100,000 King Cotton Stakes for older sprinters Feb. 9 at Oaklawn.
Coal Front, in his 2019 debut, will have to overcome the far outside post position in his two-turn debut.
“Nothing we can do, that's what we drew,” said Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, who will ride Coal Front for trainer Todd Pletcher. “He's quick enough that if he breaks well enough, he should be in pretty good position going into the first turn – third, fourth, kind of in there. If he breaks like he normally does, he might be on the lead anyway. That's the post we drew. Nothing we can do to change that.”
The projected Razorback field from the rail out: Copper Bullet, Jose Ortiz to ride, 117 pounds, 6-1 on the morning line; Remembering Rita, Alex Birzer, 115, 20-1; Rocking the Boat, Ricardo Santana Jr., 115, 20-1; Sonneteer, Richard Eramia, 115, 12-1; Souper Tapit, David Cohen, 117, 9-2; Nun the Less, Walter De La Cruz, 114, 12-1; Nanoosh, Orlando Mojica, 115, 12-1; Lone Rock, Alex Canchari, 114, 20-1; Rated R Superstar, David Cabrera, 114, 30-1; All Out Blitz, Tyler Baze, 115, 12-1; Tiz He the One, Trevor McCarthy, 116, 10-1; M G Warrior, Corey Lanerie, 115, 5-1; Thirstforlife, Miguel Mena, 113, 30-1; and Coal Front, John Velazquez, 120, 5-2.
Grade 2 winner Copper Bullet will be making his two-turn debut for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. Tiz He the One, a winner of three consecutive starts, will be making his stakes debut for trainer Jeremiah Englehart. Souper Tapit has won his last two starts, including the $200,000 Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes Jan. 19 at Gulfstream Park in his 5-year-old debut for trainer Mark Casse.
“From Day 1, we thought maybe he was a Derby horse,” Casse said. “He's shown, on occasions, of being something special. But he's kind of his own worst enemy. He's always getting himself in trouble and doing things. But as he's gotten older now, he's gotten a lot smarter, so he's improving. If he behaves himself, does everything OK, he can probably run with the best of them.”
Southern California-based Sonneteer has done his best running at Oaklawn, winning the $125,000 Fifth Season Stakes for older horses last year and finishing second in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) and fourth in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) as a maiden in 2017.
Sonneteer returns to Hot Springs off a fifth-place finish in the $301,380 San Antonio Stakes (G2) Dec. 26 at Santa Anita.
“There's no doubt he likes something about Oaklawn,” trainer Keith Desormeaux said. “I wish I could explain it. It's probably just his affinity for the surface. He's just a sincere, honest and great horse to be around. I'm glad to be able to train a horse like that.”
Desormeaux said Sonneteer ran a “very respectable race” off the layoff in the San Antonio and the plan was to bring him to Oaklawn “in the best shape as possible.”
“Coming into this race, I think, in great form, with great fitness,” Desormeaux said. “Hopefully, he earns his ticket to come back for the Oaklawn Handicap.”
M G Warrior will be making his stakes debut after winning four his last five starts, including the Jan. 26 local allowance prep for the Razorback. Rocking the Boat, at odds of 33-1, ran third in last year's Razorback.
Nanoosh will be making his 4-year-old debut after winning the $250,000 Zia Park Derby Nov. 21 at Zia Park for trainer Robertino Diodoro. Nanoosh is seeking his fourth consecutive victory.
“I think he'll be laying fairly close,” Diodoro said. “I think he's got tactical route speed. I think the way the track's been playing is definitely going to be a big advantage to him.”
She's a Julie Favored in Bayakoa Stakes
She's a Julie is the 9-5 program favorite for Monday's $200,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles.
Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, She's a Julie is a multiple Grade 3 winner and ran second last year in the $600,000 Alabama Stakes (G1) at Saratoga. She's a Julie is scheduled to break from post 6 under six-time defending Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. and carry 119 pounds.
Also entered are Auspicious Babe, Holiday's Angel, Promise of Spring, Dutch Parrot, Smart Emma, Remedy, Rose of Malibu, Sydney Freeman and Moonlit Garden.
Probable post time for the Bayakoa, which goes as race 7, is 4:09 p.m. (Central).
The Bayakoa is the first major local prep for the $700,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 14.
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2019 Paulick Report.