Sir Cherokee Seems OK, But Trainer Not Pleased

Sir Cherokee Seems OK, But Trainer Not Pleased
Photo: Associated Press
Arkansas Derby winner Sir Cherokee emerged OK from the New Orleans Handicap.
Edited release from Oaklawn Park
Sir Cherokee, knocked off stride in a roughly run New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) Feb. 29 at Fair Grounds, returned to his Oaklawn Park base after having suffered body soreness and superficial cuts. But his trainer, Mike Tomlinson, isn't particularly happy with the events of the day.

Sir Cherokee finished sixth in the 1 1/8-mile New Orleans. He was in close quarters when Saint Liam, the eventual second-place finisher, veered to the outside and forced him very wide into Ten Most Wanted (by Deputy Commander). Sir Cherokee and Ten Most Wanted were effectively eliminated from the race.

Terry Thompson rode Sir Cherokee, a son of Cherokee Run owned by Domino Stud of Lexington. Plans to run him in the April 3 Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) are now up in the air given the circumstances.

"We won't know for a few days," Tomlinson said March 1. "I won't commit to the Oaklawn at this point, but I'm not going to say I won't run either. We have a lot to absorb after that race, and I won't know for a couple of weeks whether we'll go."

Of more immediate concern to Tomlinson, who saddled Sir Cherokee to an upset Arkansas Derby (gr. II) victory last April, was the running of the Fair Grounds race.

Peace Rules (by Jules), trained by Bobby Frankel, went on to win the New Orleans by a head over Saint Liam (by Saint Ballado), and the result stood after Edgar Prado, rider of Saint Liam, claimed foul against Jerry Bailey, rider of Peace Rules, for the chain-reaction crowding at the first turn. There also was some bumping in the stretch between the top two finishers.

"It's a shame that the race had to have such controversy, and the stewards blew it off," Tomlinson said. "My horse almost went down, and someone should have come down. Ten Most Wanted came over so bad that (rider Pat Day's) stirrup cut Terry's boot. And all the time, Terry was yelling at Pat to get off. Pat's horse bumped Sir Cherokee three times. And to top it off, I'm hearing the track announcer blaming Sir Cherokee for causing the trouble.

"I don't think there should be one set of rules for the stars, and another set of rules for the little guy. Just because you're a big-name rider or trainer doesn't mean you can get away with everything. Yes, I'm angry, but the most important thing is that Sir Cherokee is going to be OK. We'll have to just throw that race out, determine where to go from here, and formulate a game plan."

Meanwhile, Frankel said there "is a chance" he would run Peace Rules in the Oaklawn, but more likely he'll send Midas Eyes for the race that kicks off the eight-day Racing Festival of the South. Frankel won the Oaklawn last year with Medaglia d'Oro, who is expected to go in the March 20 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I).

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