Apriority, looking to establish himself as one of the top sprinters in the nation, heads a field of six for the $250,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park April 14.
Donald Dizney's Florida-homebred son of Grand Slam travels to Arkansas from Calder Casino & Race Course, where he was based during the winter while competing at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino. Trained by David Fawkes, Apriority registered his first graded stakes win in the Mr. Prospector (gr. III) at Gulfstream Dec. 31 when he nosed out Zero Rate Policy.
Apriority is the 118-pound high weight in the six-furlong Count Fleet, which also attracted Hamazing Destiny and red hot Southern California-based mare Izzy Rules.
The race, one of three graded stakes on Oaklawn's Arkansas Derby program Saturday, is the eighth on the card with a 3:57 p.m. CDT post time.
Apriority ran in a number of top sprints last year, finishing second in both the Carter Handicap (gr. I) and the Churchill Downs Stakes (gr. II). He was sixth in the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) last fall. The bay horse is coming off a runner-up effort by a head to Soaring Stocks in an allowance optional claimer at Gulfstream March 11.
“He couldn’t be doing any better,” said assistant trainer Scott Acker, who traveled with Apriority to Oaklawn April 11. “He’s a good shipper and he was really focused when we galloped this morning. It’s a good sign when he gets right to work on these trips and doesn’t do much looking around.”
Rafael Bejarano takes the call on Apriority, who has won five of 19 lifetime starts. They break from post 5 in the short field.
Trainer Jeff Bonde, who won last year's Count Fleet with Smiling Tiger, returns with Izzy Rules, who has won her past four starts by a combined margin of more than 21 lengths. Owned by George and Mary Clare Schmitt, the 5-year-old Florida-bred daughter of Peace Rules is coming off a 4 1/4-length triumph over females in the Las Flores Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita Park March 11.
Izzy Rules earned a 100 Beyer speed figure for the Las Flores win, best last-race rating in the Count Fleet field. Edwin Maldonado has the return mount.
Hamazing Destiny, from the D. Wayne Lukas stable for Westrock Stables and Barry Butzow, ran fifth in the 2011 Breeder's Cup Sprint after a runner-up finish behind Big Drama in the championship race a year earlier. The 6-year-old son of Salt Lake has lost his past eight starts but is coming off back-to-back runner-up efforts in Oaklawn sprints.
Jon Court rides Hamazing Destiny, who leads the field in earnings with $615,959 while compiling a 4-6-3 mark in 23 starts.
Our Dark Knight, formerly trained by Nick Zito, ran second in Oaklawn's Hot Springs Stakes March 24 in his first try for for Ron Moquett. Our Dark Knight lost by just a neck to City Sage in the Hot Springs.
Silver Magnus, fifth in the Hot Springs, and Outta Tune, stepping up in class after three consecutive wins at the Oaklawn meet, complete the field.
$250,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (gr. III, Race 8, 3:57), 3 & Up, 6 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Our Dark Knight (KY), R Santana Jr., 112, R Moquett
2. Silver Magnus (FL), R A Vazquez, 112, M Robertson
3. Izzy Rules (FL), E A Maldonado, 113, J Bonde
4. Outta Tune (KY), T J Thompson, 114, C Richard
5. Apriority (FL), R Bejarano, 118, D Fawkes
6. Hamazing Destiny (KY), J K Court, 115, D W Lukas