Oaklawn Barn Notes - Wednesday, April 1

December 10, 2019

The Truth Or Else Works toward Arkansas Derby; Will Add Blinkers

The Truth Or Else will add blinkers for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 11 at Oaklawn, trainer Kenny McPeek said following the colt’s sizzling workout Wednesday morning under Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel.

The colt, in his second breeze in blinkers, covered five furlongs over a fast-rated surface in :58.80 shortly after the renovation break, easily the quickest of 27 works recorded at the distance.

The Truth Or Else broke off approximately eight lengths behind stablemate Fracula, a 3-year-old Rockport Harbor colt who is winless in five lifetime starts. He easily collared his work partner on the outside in midstretch and was drawing away at the finish as Borel remained chilly. Following splits of :11.80, :23.20 and :35.80, The Truth Or Else galloped out six furlongs in 1:11.80. Fracula was credited with five furlongs in 1:00.60.

McPeek said The Truth Or Else, exiting a fourth-place finish in the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 14, went a little faster than he wanted, but added that the colt’s “obviously has a lot of talent.”

“He broke off a little bit far behind that horse,” McPeek said. “He was supposed to be about two or three lengths back and ended up eight or 10. But he still outran him, so, I mean, it was a pretty impressive breeze, other than I probably wanted him to go closer to 1:00. But, this is a good problem to have.”

After finishing a closing second in the $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 22, The Truth Or Else was beaten 10 lengths by champion American Pharoah in the Rebel. McPeek said he wants The Truth Or Else more forwardly placed in the Arkansas Derby, which is scheduled to attract, among others, the wire-to-wire Rebel winner.

“He just got too far back the last time,” McPeek said, referring to why he’s adding blinkers. “We’ve got to find another gear, another level with our horse. I do think this will help him be more focused. He needs to get himself up in the game the first half-mile next week.”

McPeek said The Truth Or Else, assuming the weather is good, will have an “easy” work Tuesday morning.

Status quo

Trainer Steve Asmussen said Wednesday morning that champion Untapable and multiple stakes winner Tapiture remain under consideration for the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) for older fillies and mares April 10 and the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses April 11, respectively.

Asmussen said he will evaluate weight assignments for both horses before making a decision on remaining at Oaklawn or pointing both for races early next month at Churchill Downs. Oaklawn racing secretary Pat Pope is scheduled to release weights for the Apple Blossom and Oaklawn Handicap Saturday.

“Depends on the weights and stuff,” Asmussen said. “There are options for both of them. We know what the weights for the Derby are.”

Asmussen said Bold Conquest is still scheduled to make his next start in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 11.

All three Asmussen trainees had major works Monday morning, with Untapable going six furlongs in an eye-popping 1:10.80 and Tapiture and Bold Conquest covering the same distance in 1:12.20. The trio worked over a fast track.

Untapable started out about eight lengths behind stablemate Hottap, a 3-year-old Tapit colt who is winless in six lifetime starts. Hottap was credited with six furlongs in 1:12.20. The champion, who finished nearly even with Hottap, covered her final quarter-mile in :23.20 and galloped out 7 furlongs in 1:23.80.

Untapable, in her 4-year-old debut, finished second in the $300,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 14. She hadn’t started since completing a perfect campaign against females with a victory in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) Oct. 31 at Santa Anita.

Asmussen noted the surface was “lightning” fast Monday, but “that’s probably the track we get to run on the last two weeks here.”

“Got to let her do something,” Asmussen said. “I thought she got a little tired the other day. Same as before the Distaff, when she went :58 and change. You get a little nervous, but you’ve got to let her do something sometime.”

The 1 1/16-mile Apple Blossom closed last Saturday with 16 nominations, led by champions Untapable and Beholder.

Asmussen matched Tapiture against Bold Conquest in their work. They essentially started and finished together. Tapiture, in his 4-year-old debut, finished a disappointing fifth in the $250,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) March 14. Bold Conquest finished third in the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 14 in his last start.

Finish Lines

Although Work All Week worked a half-mile bullet (:47.80) Tuesday morning, trainer Roger Brueggemann said the reigning male sprint champion isn’t a candidate to make his 2015 debut in the $300,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 9. Brueggemann said Work All Week is doing well physically, but is at least a month away from running. Work All Week had his first published workout since winning the $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) Nov. 1 last week at Oaklawn. … Picko’s Pride, who is pointing for the Count Fleet, worked sx furlongs out of the gate in 1:12.40 Wednesday morning for trainer Mac Robertson. … Trainer Tom Howard said Ivan Fallunovalot’s final work for the Count Fleet is scheduled for Friday. … Trainer Randy Morse said he plans to work Street Strategy, a candidate for the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 11, Saturday or Sunday. … Bridget’s Big Luvy, trained by Jeremiah Englehart, was scheduled to arrive Wednesday at Oaklawn for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 11. The Tiz Wonderful colt, a late Triple Crown nominee, won the $100,000 Private Terms Stakes March 21 at Laurel. … Six-time Oaklawn training champion Steve Asmussen won his 7,000th career race worldwide Sunday at Fair Grounds. Asmussen has 6,998 career victories in North America. He is scheduled to start four horses Wednesday at Oaklawn. … Prominent Arkansas automobile dealer Steve Landers now has his horses in training with Brad Cox … Two-time Apple Blossom champion Zenyatta turned 11 Wednesday.

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