One year after dominating Oaklawn Park's 3-year-old stakes program, Lawyer Ron returns with a new trainer and rider for Saturday’s $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II).
The Oaklawn Handicap, for older horses, will be run as race 10 on an 11-race card. It shares the Saturday spotlight with the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I).
In the spring of 2006, when Lawyer Ron was terrorizing the competition in the Southwest, Rebel (gr. III) and $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. II), the chestnut was the pride and joy of veteran trainer Bob Holthus, a nine-time Oaklawn champion. His regular rider was young John McKee, the track's champion rider in 2004 when he rode 71 winners.
However, last September, shortly after a second-place finish in the Super Derby (gr. II) at Louisiana Downs, Lawyer Ron was transferred by his new owners from Holthus to Todd Pletcher, a three-time Eclipse Award winner. Lawyer Ron now runs in the silks of Never Tell Racing and the Estate of J.T. Hines Jr.
In his first start for Pletcher, Lawyer Ron finished ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I), but his 4-year-old debut was something else again. He overcame a troubled trip to win a mile allowance at Gulfstream Park by three-plus lengths.
Since that race, Lawyer Ron has posted three consecutive bullet works in south Florida. He made a grand appearance when he arrived at Oaklawn Wednesday with Round Pond and three other "Racing Festival of the South" runners.
Lawyer Ron, along with other Pletcher-trained Festival prospects India (Apple Blossom) and Cotton Blossom (Fantasy), have taken up residence in trainer Tim Ritchey’s barn on the Oaklawn backstretch.
Edgar Prado, the reigning Eclipse Award winner, will ride Lawyer Ron for the first time in the Oaklawn Handicap for Pletcher, whose father, J J Pletcher, won the Oaklawn 'Cap back in 1980 with Uncool.
Lawyer Ron, the 120-pound high weight, drew post five in a field of seven and was made the 6-5 overnight favorite.
With Lawyer Ron now regarded as a “shipper,” Mike Langford's Jonesboro and Barnes amd Batcheller's Brother Bobby represent the home team. They were assigned the two inside posts for the nine-furlong stakes.
Calvin Borel has the call from trainer Randy Morse on Jonesboro, who gets in at 116 pounds, and Stewart Elliott gets the nod from trainer Grant Forster on Brother Bobby, the 110-pound low weight.
Jonesboro, the winner of the Essex Handicap (gr. III) at the meeting, is regarded as the main speed of the Oaklawn.
Trainer Richard Mandella will be looking for his third Oaklawn winner with the late-running Boboman. Mandella, won the race in 1997 with Atticus and in 2002 with Kudos.
$500,000 Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II, Race 10, 5:47 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Brother Bobby (KY), 110, Stewart Elliott
2. Jonesboro (KY), 116, Calvin H. Borel
3. Smokeyjonessutton (KY, 112, Mark Guidry
4. Papi Chullo (FL), 113, Eibar Coa
5. Lawyer Ron (KY), 120, Edgar S. Prado
6. McCann's Mojave (CA), 116, Frank T. Alvarado
7. Boboman (KY), 115, Alex O. Solis