The Racing Festival of the South at Oaklawn Park is highlighted by the April 13 $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles. Early Arkansas Derby probables include Galilean, Gray Attempt, Improbable, Last Judgement, Long Range Toddy, Omaha Beach, One Flew South and Six Shooter.
Gray Attempt, under Stewart Elliott, recorded a 5-furlong bullet workout after the first renovation break Friday morning for trainer Jinks Fires of Hot Springs. Breezing over a muddy track, Gray Attempt went from the half-mile pole to the 7-furlong pole in :58.60 and galloped out 6 furlongs in 1:11.60. Fires said Elliott, who won the 2004 Arkansas Derby on Smarty Jones, will have the mount for the major Kentucky Derby prep.
“I told him to just let him work like he wanted to,” Fires said. “He gives you everything you want. You can make him go faster than that, but you don't want to. He'll give you pretty much all you need.”
Gray Attempt is a two-time stakes winner at the meet, claiming the $150,000 Smarty Jones Jan. 25 in his two-turn debut and the $125,000 Gazebo at 6 furlongs March 23. Gray Attempt won both races in front-running fashion.
Also working after the first renovation break Friday morning was One Flew South, who breezed 6 furlongs from the gate in 1:13.40 under Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel. One Flew South is exiting a fifth-place finish in the $100,000 Mine That Bird Derby Feb. 24 at Sunland Park for trainer Doug O'Neill.
In addition to Long Range Toddy, Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen could start Jersey Agenda, Laughing Fox and Tikhvin Flew.
Long Range Toddy (first division) and Omaha Beach (second division) won the split $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 16, the final major local prep for the Arkansas Derby.
Trainer Paul Holthus said Six Shooter will work Saturday morning under David Cohen, who will also have the mount in the 1 1/8-mile race. Holthus has never had a starter in the Arkansas Derby, but his late father Bob, Oaklawn's all-time leading trainer, won the race in 1988 with Proper Reality and 2006 with Lawyer Ron.
Paul Holthus said Six Shooter will be a long shot in the Arkansas Derby, but the Trappe Shot gelding deserves an opportunity after winning the $75,000 Big Drama Stakes Jan. 5 at Delta Downs and finishing fourth in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 25 and $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 18 and third in the $125,000 Gazebo Stakes March 23. The latter three races, including the 6-furlong Gazebo, were at Oaklawn.
In the Smarty Jones and Southwest – Oaklawn's first two Kentucky Derby points races – Six Shooter finished just behind Long Range Toddy, who returned to capture the first division of the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 16. The Rebel is Oaklawn's final major prep for the Arkansas Derby.
“Why not take a shot?” Holthus said. “The horse is doing really good. He took a step forward off of the sprint race. I feel like he's doing good enough to take a shot.”
Stewart Elliott has ridden Six Shooter in his last three starts, but he will ride Gazebo winner Gray Attempt in the Arkansas Derby, trainer Jinks Fires of Hot Springs said. Cohen, who entered Friday as Oaklawn's second-leading jockey, has never ridden Six Shooter. The gelding races for N P H Stable (Holthus and wife Nancy), Dundalk 5 LLC (Tim Kindlon) and Wes Herek.
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