Michael Langford's recent purchase Carve was among the first horses to hit the track at Oaklawn Park early on the morning of March 10, breezing a half-mile before heavy rains left the track in sloppy condition.
Preparing for his stakes debut in the $600,000 Rebel Stakes (gr. II) March 16, undefeated Carve was was clocked in :50 2/5.
"All's well and the work went as planned," said trainer Steve Asmussen by phone. "We got a little lucky that this was his normal set and we were able to get him out and back without any problem. We feel good about where he's at. That's what we were looking at today and he's on the way to the Rebel like we'd been pointing him."
Carve, a First Samurai gelding, was claimed for $30,000 from owners Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider and trainer Al Stall Jr. in his career debut, a win at Oaklawn Jan. 25. He quickly rewarded his new connections with an impressive allowance victory over the highly regarded Title Contender Feb. 17 in his only other career start.
At Santa Anita Park, Southwest Stakes (gr. III) winner Super Ninety Nine, prepping for a return to Oaklawn in the Rebel Stakes, worked five furlongs in company March 10 with stablemate Den's Legacy for trainer Bob Baffert. Each was clocked in :59 4/5. Rafael Bejarano was aboard Super Ninety Nine, while Erick Lopez rode Den’s Legacy.
Tanma Corporation's 3-year-old son of Pulpit has won both of his starts this year, including an 11 1/4-length romp as the even-money favorite in the Feb. 18 Southwest.
In other Rebel news, Texas Bling appears ready to redeem himself from a poor performance in the Southwest last month after a quick five-furlong breeze June 9 over the track.
In his third work since finishing ninth over a sloppy track in the Southwest, the Too Much Bling colt was timed in 1:01 under regular rider Cliff Berry. It was the second fastest of 64 works at the distance.
"It was an absolutely fabulous work," said trainer Danele Durham. "A horse broke off in front of him and it gave him something to shoot for. He kept getting stronger and stronger and we caught him coming home in 12 and change and really strong on the end and gaining. He vetted 100 percent today and has been a beast in the shedrow.
Texas Bling, who races for the Hall's Family Trust, earned the right to continue down the path toward the $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. I) April 13 when he finished second in the Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 21, one race after pulling an upset in the $300,000 Springboard Mile at Remington Park last December. He has two wins from 12 starts and earnings of $240,683.