Hard to believe that it's been precisely a year since Smarty Jones scored a hard-fought victory in the $100,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
Jockey Calvin Borel made racing history when he rode his 4,000th career winner at Oaklawn Park Wednesday.
Cash Is King Stable's Afleet Alex, winner of the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) and runner-up in the voting for 2-year-old champion, had his first work of the year at Oaklawn Park Wednesday, drilling a sharp half in :47 flat with jockey Jeremy Rose aboard. It was the second fastest of 40 works at the distance.
Trainer Tim Ritchey confirmed Monday morning that Afleet Alex, runner-up for the 2-year-old championship, will have his first work of his 3-year-old season later this week at Oaklawn Park.
The first leg of Oaklawn Park's stakes program for older runners will kick off with Saturday's $100,000 Essex Handicap (gr. III). Discreet Hero will be seeking his first 2005 victory as the 115-pound topweight in the 1 1/16 mile-event.
By James E. Bassett III -- When one thinks of Charles J. Cella, a myriad of descriptions flash by. "Indescribable" comes easily to mind, overshadowed by "indomitable" or perhaps "indestructible," followed by "unpredictable" or almost surely "unpersuadable." But lest we overlook the obvious, certainly it would be "unforgettable."
Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., lifts the lid on its 55-day racing season Friday, with the feature race showcasing 3-year-olds going 5 1/2 furlongs in the 65th running of the $50,000 Dixieland Stakes.
Fox Hill Farms' Rockport Harbor, undefeated winner of the Remsen (gr. II) and Nashua Stakes (gr. III), is recovering nicely from a severe gash to his back foot and is scheduled to leave Philadelphia Park for Oaklawn Wednesday.
Robert Gaffglione, who rode for 41 years, died Dec. 5 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Oaklawn Park is planning a full-blown 'Smarty Party' for June 5 when the track's adopted son, Smarty Jones, goes for the Visa Triple Crown and second $5-million bonus in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Oaklawn Park owner Charles Cella traveled from Arkansas to Pennsylvania Monday to hand-deliver a $5 million check to Roy and Pat Chapman, owners of Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Smarty Jones.
Oaklawn Park owner Charles Cella wanted to do something big to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the racetrack that had been a part of his family since 1904. So big, in fact, the sport of horse racing has never seen anything like it.
Wild Spirit, the second-place finisher in the April 3 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. II), was disqualified to third Tuesday by the Oaklawn Racing Commission for a bumping incident with Star Parade at the top of the stretch.
After Arkansas Derby (gr. I) winner Smarty Jones returned from a gallop over the sloppy Churchill Downs track Friday morning, trainer John Servis said "he is doing fantastic. I wish the race were tomorrow."
Last year trainer Bobby Frankel saddled Medaglia d' Oro to win the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II). This year Frankel hopes Peace Rules, who is listed as even money on the morning-line, can emulate his stablemate's success in Saturday's $500,000 race going 1 1/8-miles.
Oaklawn Park will increase purses for all non-stakes races by $1,500 through closing day, April 10, Eric Jackson, the general manager of Oaklawn Park, announced Saturday.
Someday Farm's Smarty Jones, unbeaten in five career starts, heads a record list of 152 nominations for the $1-million Arkansas Derby (gr. II) April 10 at Oaklawn Park. The 1 1/8-mile stakes is the highlight of the eighth and final day of the Racing Festival of the South, and also closing day of the live meet at the Hot Springs track.
Edmund Gann's Peace Rules and Mr. and Mrs. William Warren Jr's Saint Liam, the one-two finishers in the Feb. 29 New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) at Fair Grounds, and the past two Arkansas Derby (gr. II) winners--Private Emblem (2002) and Sir Cherokee (2003)--head a list of 17 horses nominated for the $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) April 3.
Smarty Jones likes Oaklawn Park, as proven by his win there in the Southwest Stakes, but the colt will give weight to all of his competitors in Saturday's Rebel Stakes.
My Trusty Cat, impressive winner of a local allowance test in her first start of 2004, hopes to continue the momentum in the $200,000 Oaklawn Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. III) for fillies and mares at Oaklawn Park. Among the challengers in the March 13 event is Spectacular Lisa, two-for-two in stakes this year.
Trainer Bobby Frankel is shipping a quartet of runners for Oaklawn Park's Racing Festival of South, including Peace Rules, who will look to defend the trainer's Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) title. Frankel won the 2003 Oaklawn Handicap with Medaglia d'Oro, who is pointed toward the March 27 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I).
Instant Racing, which combines pari-mutuel wagering with video gaming technology, had its best month ever at Oaklawn Park when patrons poured $5.82 million through the machines in February.
When a squall line ripped through Hot Springs, Ark. Thursday evening at 7 p.m., the results "raised the roof" of Barn 25 in the Oaklawn Park stable area, depositing it largely on Barn 28 and a pair of unsuspecting trucks.
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.
The $100,000 Southwest Stakes, the second of three local preps for the $1-million Arkansas Derby (gr. II) on April 10, lured a field of 10, including a pair of two-horse couplings, Feb. 28 at Oaklawn Park.
Pro Prado and Wildcat Shoes, the one-two finishers in the Mountain Valley Stakes on Jan. 24, and the undefeated New York invader Smarty Jones, head the field for Saturday's $100,000 Southwest Stakes at one mile at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Instant Racing, a pari-mutuel gaming system currently available at wagering outlets in Arkansas and Wyoming, will be expanded in those two states early this year.
Saturday's $100,000 Essex Handicap at Oaklawn Park is shaping up as a showdown between the speedy Crafty Shaw, winner of the race in 2002, and Pie N Burger, a late comer to the race when a field of eight was entered Thursday.
Read the Footnotes, Minister Eric, and Tapit top a record roster of 140 Early Bird nominees for the Rebel and Arkansas Derby (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park. The Rebel and Arkansas Derby are the first two legs of Oaklawn's $5-million three race bonus with the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) being the final leg.
The Essex Handicap (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park Saturday is expected to feature two previous winners of the 1 1/16-mile contest -- Crafty Shaw and Maysville Slew -- as well as 2002 Arkansas Derby (gr. II) winner Private Emblem, who is undefeated at Oaklawn Park.
Turn to Lass battled with All Electric throughout before prevailing in the stretch to win the $50,000 Martha Washington, featured race on the President's Day card Monday at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas.
In an effort to make sure that all wagers are placed in the same manner, Oaklawn Jockey Club has moved to eliminate "batch" technology being employed by several off-shore wagering locations.
Oaklawn Park hosted 62,982 patrons during its opening three days, making it one of the biggest opening weekends in recent memory for the Hot Springs, Ark. racetrack.
Brainstorming for ideas to celebrate Oaklawn Park's centennial in 2004, track owner Charles Cella turned into the $6-million man late last summer. At the ripe old age of 67, Cella stunned his colleagues when he said he was going to offer a $5-million bonus to any 3-year-old that swept Oaklawn's Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby (gr. II) and then won the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). He also raised the purse of the Arkansas Derby to $1 million.
Oaklawn Park will kick off its 100th season of racing Jan. 23 with expected full fields and enticements for on-track patrons.
The Southern Racing Cooperative, currently in a dispute with the Churchill Downs Simulcast Network over fees charged for signals, said Nov. 17 it has been approached by 10 racetracks that want to join the organization.
Oaklawn Park has completed the overhaul of its racetrack, which included rebuilding the base and renovating the racing surface. Horses are scheduled to arrive at the Arkansas track around Dec. 1.
Instant Racing, launched in Arkansas three years ago, was approved for use at pari-mutuel facilities by the Wyoming Racing Commission July 11. The devices, which resemble video lottery terminals but are linked to pari-mutuel pools, will first be installed at an off-track betting parlor operated by Wyoming Downs.
Arkansas native Chris Valovich, who rose up from a leading apprentice rider at Oaklawn Park in 1983 to garner more than 2,000 wins in 20 years, was cremated June 24 in Arizona after he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound four days earlier in Phoenix.
Instant Racing, a pari-mutuel video lottery game currently offered at racetracks in Arkansas, has been approved by the Oregon Racing Commission for use at the state's racetracks. Oregon is the second state to approve the devices.
Overnight ratings for NBC's coverage of major Triple Crown prep races Saturday, April 12, showed a slight increase in viewership over last year's numbers.
No one will collect the big prize in the National Thoroughbred Racing Association $1 million mystery voucher promotion this year. The winner was from the Oaklawn Park mailing list, but apparently wasn't among the crowd of 61,752 at the Hot Springs, Ark. track Saturday afternoon.
A voucher worth $1 million was mailed to someone on the Oaklawn Park mailing list for the April 12 National Thoroughbred Racing Association Mystery Mutuel Voucher promotion. But no one cashed.
Reigning Horse of the Year Azeri returns Saturday at Oaklawn Park against a solid field that includes multiple Grade 1 winner Take Charge Lady.
Nominations have closed for the four races at Oaklawn Park during its Racing Festival of the South. Medaglia d'Oro and Congaree are nominated to the Oaklawn Handicap.
Oaklawn Park has raised purses $1,000 across the board in all races except stakes events.
Oaklawn officials have announced that the purse for the Fifth Season Stakes, for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/6 miles on April 9, has been raised to $100,000 guaranteed. The race was originally scheduled at $50,000 guaranteed.
Legislation to authorize electronic games of skill at Arkansas racetracks has been introduced by state lawmakers.
A winter storm has canceled racing Wednesday and Thursday in Arkansas and Wednesday's card in Maryland.
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