Morse Seeks Quick Payoff as Oaklawn Kicks Off
First Regent will make his first start for trainer Randy Morse and main client Mike Langford in the $50,000 Dixieland Stakes, the headliner on Oaklawn Park's 2007 opening day program Friday.
"Only time will tell if he's in Jonesboro's class," Morse said Wednesday morning at the racing office, "but this is a nice horse, and we have high hopes for him."
Stewart Elliott has the call on First Regent, who drew post seven in a field of 13 for the Dixieland, a 5 1/2-furlong dash for 3-year-olds.
Langford privately purchased First Regent, a gelded son of Native Regent, from New York-based owner Andrew Berg just last week.
First Regent, part of Bruce Levine's stable in New York, won only one of five starts, but he attracted Langford's attention with a closing second last out in a conditioned allowance at Aqueduct.
"The horse (Sports Town) who beat First Regent is considered one of the best 3-year-olds in New York," said Morse, "and from what I saw First Regent should have beaten him that day. Every time First Regent went for a hole, the hole closed on him."
Morse is aware the Dixieland is a tough spot.
"This is a very difficult field," he says. "There isn't a horse in there who can't run. Whoever gets the good start and a clean trip will win it.
"I know I'm running this horse awful quick and awful deep," Morse adds with a sly smile, "but I do want to run him once off Levine's training."
Trainers Steve Asmussen and Cole Norman are also represented in the Dixieland.
Asmussen, recently returning from a six-month suspension, has had uncommon success at Oaklawn in past years and Gus King's Sir Five Star would appear to give him a good chance to continue that trend.
Sir Five Star most recently won the Riley Allison Futurity at Sunland Park and also shows a win in Remington Park's Clever Trevor Stakes on his career record of four wins from 10 starts and earnings of $169,870. He will be ridden on Friday by Justin Shepherd.
For Norman the horse going postward is Go Poppa Fooze, who runs in the colors of country music star Toby Keith's Dream Walkin Farms, Inc.
Go Poppa Fooze captured the Minstrel Stakes at Louisiana Downs and now shows a record of wins from five starts for Cole Norman. Carlos Gonzalez has the riding assignment. The chestnut colt is scheduled to break from post position 13, just outside of Sir Five Star in post 12.
$50,000 Dixieland Stakes (Race 8, 4:37 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 5 1/2 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Westwon (KY), 115, John McKee
2. Tricky's Tick Tock (IA), 119, Gabriel Saez
3. Tortuga Straits (LA), 122, Luis S. Quinonez
4. Hadacure (TX), 122, M. Clifton Berry
5. Proud Leader (FL), 115, Quincy Hamilton
6. Harrow Land (KY), 115, Willie Martinez
7. First Regent (FL), 115, Stewart Elliott
8. Irish Dreamer (KY), 115, Eusebio Razo, Jr.
9. Speedway (KY), 122, Terry J. Thompson
10. Chawnado (LA), 115, Cody Meche
11. Officer Rocket (GB), 122, Calvin H. Borel
12. Sir Five Star (KY), 122, Justin Shepherd
13. Go Poppa Fooze (KY), 119, Carlos Gonzalez
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