The horses are settling in and the main track has opened for training. Nevada Litfin explains the plans for the next few days as Mr Ark and I Never Give Up acclimate to Canterbury and barn D5.
The Litfin caravan pulled into town this weekend and Mr Ark and I Never Give Up both are secure in their stalls on the backside of Canterbury Park. Both had an uneventful trip up from Oaklawn (the best kind).
Both horses have been walking every day and getting used to their surroundings. Next step in a day or two will be to go over to the track, gallop and get ready for their first starts in Minnesota.
After the weekend we’ll take a look at how they are progressing and look to start entering races.
I Never Gave Up finished 4th yesterday in the 3rd at Oaklawn.
She broke well and Alex Birzer guided her into a stalking position down the backstretch and into the turn. As the field straightened out for home she was angled out a bit and had a straight shot to the finish line. For a moment it looked like she might just sweep on by but she tired and was unable to gain any ground on the leaders. She was nipped at the wire to for third.
The Club picks up a check for $1150 which will covering her shipping to Canterbury and a wee bit more.
She seemed to come out of the race okay but very tired so she’s not quite at the fitness level that she needs to be. Nevada, however, will take care of that in the mornings.
The timing for her first start at home looks to be good for opening weekend but we have a lack of races to choose from. There are several state bred maiden races but the only open maiden race is opening night in a maiden claiming $10,000. We want to get in action as quickly as possible but we also want to try and maximize the potential of our starts and if she can win at a higher level, we want to give her that opportunity. The other side of that coin, of course, is you can only run what is written.
However we won’t put the start before the horse (HA!) but get her and Mr. Ark up here, settled in and – weather eventually permitting – getting them training over the racetrack.
The Litfin stable will be packing up throughout the weekend and will hit the road early next week. Once they get settled in we will touch base with Nevada and see how the move went and how our charges are settling in.
I Never Give Up makes her first start for the Club Wednesday afternoon at Oaklawn in the 3rd race. She drew post 11 in the six furlong sprint for 3-year old maidens running for a tag of $16,000. Alex Birzer has the ride. Approximate post time is 2:25 CT.
Soaring Lil Sass (McBride/St. Julien) – In two starts she’s finished 7th and 8th and no closer than 9 lengths. She did show speed in her last when she dropped in class but she’s rising a bit today.
Sweet As Caroline (Gleason/Wethey) – 0 for 5 maiden coming off both her best race and a claim. Gleason is 33% first off the claim this year but she’s also moving up from the $12,500 ranks (as our we, for that matter). In her last, she came from well off the pace but was also traveling a mile.
La Tell (Villafranco/Thompson) – First time starter from a barn that is winning with firsters at a 20% clip. Works have been fair but have to respect the connections.
Baby Collette (Hartman/Cabrera) – Comes in with the biggest class drop in racing: maiden special weight to maiden claiming. Showed a little speed early over the Fairgrounds turf. Tries the dirt off a nice work returning after a couple of month layoff.
It’s Springtime (Mason/Morales) – Two starts have been even but non-descript: hasn’t been quick nor has closed.
Valiant Lady (Mason/Felix) – Has been running at a higher claiming level all meet and looks like she’s taking the plunge to get a win in here. Generally pretty quick early, Felix may look to get ou, try and control the race and play “catch me if you can”.
Alex’s Bourbon (Catalano/Hill) – Another first timer and another trainer that clicks with them at 20%. Works have been consistent and improving.
Her High Road (Dixon/Court) – Two starts and finished relatively far back though showed considerable early speed in her last before tiring late.
Baroness Juliette (Stuart/Canchari) – Dropping in claiming price by more than half, she was only beaten 3 3/4 lengths last out and the class drop should help her considerably.
Sunny’s Funny (Asmussen/Santana) – Top connections behind this morning line favorite. Hasn’t hit the board since her 3rd place debut – all four of her races have been maiden special weights – and her last hasn’t shown a lot but she gets back on the dirt as she tries Oaklawn for the first time
I NEVER GIVE UP (LITFIN/BIRZER)
This race is a real interesting mix and is very much representative of an “end of the meet” race – horses dropping in from the sky, skipping several claiming levels, trying to get a win to get out of town with some cash.
Can we win this race? Maybe. It’s a tough one when you have a predilection for speed and drew the far outside post. Part of the upside is that Birzer wanted to stay on the mount even when she shifted barns. Her speed figures are not out of line here either. I don’t think we can get an uncontested lead but she may be quick enough to get decent position behind the inside speed…IF she can be rated. If we find ourselves sitting sweetly a few lengths behind the leaders heading down the lane, we may get first run at the leaders and who knows what can happen then?
It won’t be easy but we’ll be looking for a good run here that will set us up nicely for a good summer here at home.
I Never Give Up will be making her debut for the Club on Wednesday at Oaklawn in a $16,000 Maiden Claiming race for 3-year old fillies going six furlong.
There were a pair of options when we went to enter: a $12,500 or a $16,000. When it became apparent that the $12,500 was not going to fill, we opted for the $16,000 so we could race before the end of the meet.
Alex Birzer, who had been riding her under the old connections, will retain the mount. We are, however, mired on the far outside in post 11. As we approach the end of the meet there are class droppers galore trying to get a win before they leave tow. We are moving up a little, so it is going to prove to be a pretty stern test. She is 8-1 on the Morning Line. Post time is 2:25 PM.
We’ll preview the race in a few days. Good luck everyone!
Certainly not what we were hoping for, that’s for sure. If we got the lead we needed to control the pace and, obviously, that’s not what happened.
When CJ got off him we learned that he had a tough time settling in the early stages – he just wanted to go. Ultimately that’s what buried us.
The good news is that he seemed to come out of the race well with no injuries. He’ll move to Canterbury with the Litfin barn after the Oaklawn meet concludes in a couple of weeks. We’ll get him some class relief here and perhaps shorten him up a little and get right back it at home.
In other news, we will be entering I Never Give Up tomorrow to race on Wednesday and take one last swing at Oaklawn.
Mr. Ark faces off against 9 other Arkansas breds in the 2nd race of the day tomorrow at Oaklawn. The race is a $16,000 claiming race to be run over a distance of a mile and an eighth. CJ McMahon will be in the irons and we’ll be breaking from post 2.
Here is a breakdown of the race in post position order with trainer then jockey listed in parenthesis.
Mallard’s Bro (Villafranco/Cabrera) – Claimed two starts back for $30,000 in an Arkansas bred race where he finished 4th. First off the claim was in an open $50,000 claimer where he was no factor. He’s a deep closer and should have a class edge on the field having earned more than a quarter of a million dollars and is stakes placed.
MR. ARK (LITFIN/MCMAHON)
Promising Shoes (Hornsby/Loveberry) – Gelding last won at Canterbury this past summer over a group of $6250 claimers. After some time off he came back in a route over a muddy Oaklawn track and showed speed before faltering late against state breds at the $30,000 level. Brought back against open $12,500 level horses, he didn’t show much at all. This should be his proper level and should try to stalk the pace.
October Sky (Martin/Wales) – A pair of solid third place finishes against state breds, two back at this level. Has won at a mile but may have some issues going longer and the extra furlong may be much, especially considering that his two races after his 9-month layoff have been at six furlongs.
Dontsaymyname (Ives/Morales) – Lost to Mr. Ark last out by 12 lengths while showing little since being off since August. He should be a little sharper in his second race after the layoff but his Oaklawn form in his past performances has been abysmal.
Shoe Money (Fires/Court) – In his first race back off a long layoff he was third at this level going six furlongs. Broke his maiden here last year in a state bred maiden claimer followed up by hitting the board in a $15,000 and $20,000 state bred claimers. This will be the longest he’s ever gone by far. You’d expect the sprinter to show some speed when stretching out.
Bogey (Witt/Quinonez) – His first race back to the races was the race where we claimed Mr. Ark. He finished a nice 2nd, beaten 3.5 lengths. Expect him to be even sharper in this start.
Light Bound Bid (Loy/Eramia) – Very sharp in his seasonal debut where he beat a field of $8000 starters getting up at the “shadow of the wire” (credit Richard Grunder for the phrase!) but hasn’t been competitive since. Gets some class relief here as his last two were a $16,000 and first level allowance, respectively. He’ll want to be running late.
Mr. D’s Last Storm (Altamirano/Felix) – Won at the lower levels at Louisiana Downs and hit the board in his Oaklawn seasonal debut against open $6250. Pushed up a bit to a pair of $8000 conditioned claimers (non-winners of a race in 6 months) where he faltered badly. Back in with state breds for the first time in a long time, he should show more than he did in his last.
Strawn’s Cash (Cates/Vazquez) – Speedster stuck on the far outside will be at a disadvantage even after notching his second lifetime win last out against a field of open $8000 conditioned (non-winners of 2 lifetime) claimers. Reatins the services of a top-notch pilot, however, and he will give him the best chance to win. SCRATCHED TO RUN IN STAKE SATURDAY
These state bred claiming races are tough to figure. You tend to get the same horses in a $6250 claiming race as you may in a state bred allowance. They tend to beat each other up and the trip becomes all important.
I wouldn’t call Mr. Ark a speed horse by any measure. I think he’s best when he can track someone and move on by. However it is entirely possible that we will inherit the lead in this one and McMahon’s job will be to try and control the pace for 9 furlongs.
The start of the race is halfway down the backstretch.
This doesn’t leave a lot of room for Strawn’s Cash to get position, though if he breaks alertly, he could put pressure on our boy up front. Promising Shoes and Bogey could both be a factor early, though I can see them settling behind the leaders to make a run later.
So, the key will be the trip. If we can work out a good trip it is certainly possible that Ark can win, though by no means a sure thing as the contenders in here are a pretty well balanced group and we do give up some class to other runners. He could also end up finishing 7th depending upon how things work out as, like I alluded to earlier, these state bred claimers have a way of taking turns beating each other up and down the class ladder.
Post time is slated for 1:57 PM Central. Good luck!