Plainsman Propels Shortleaf Stables to Top of Oaklawn Rankings
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Plainsman beat a horse in his first career start. He beat all horses in his last, a tough neck decision against Thomas Shelby in the $600,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) on Feb. 12.
Victory in the 1 1/16 mile race for older horses made Plainsman a millionaire and came almost exactly 50 years after his owner, John Ed Anthony of Hot Springs, won his first race at Oaklawn. Now among the most famous owners in Oaklawn history, Anthony’s Shortleaf Stable, boosted by riders like Plainsman, topped the 2021-2022 competition standings in wins (eight) and purse earnings ($919,116). ) until Saturday.
“I’m just proud to be able to get graduated participation for him here,” said two-time defending Eclipse Award winner Brad Cox, who coaches Plainsman. “He was big. And this horse, he’s a cool horse. We had him before, he left us for a while and he came back. He really, really looks like a horse that has improved with the age.
Anthony bought Flatter’s 7-year-old son Plainsman for $350,000 at the September 2016 Yearling Sale at Keeneland. Plainsman began his racing career with now-retired trainer Will VanMeter and finished ninth on his October 2017 debut at Keeneland.
After breaking his maiden for VanMeter in 2018 at Oaklawn – Plainsman earned a Lasix-free bonus, 10% of the first-place share, for winning without the anti-hemorrhagic drug – he ran sixth in the Derby of the ‘Arkansas to $1 million (G1) later in the meeting and won the $200,000 Discovery Stakes (G3) for Cox in November 2018 at Aqueduct. Plainsman made all three starts of 2019 at New York for Hall of Fame coach Shug McGaughey and finished seventh in his 2020 debut, a February allocation lane at Oaklawn, for McGaughey’s son Reeve. who had just left alone. Plainsman returned to Cox later in 2020.
A physical problem (hind feet) limited Plainsman to just 28 starts in life. Now healthy, he’s in the best shape of his career with nine consecutive Beyer Speed Figure 90+ ratings, including a preliminary 99 for his Razorback victory. He paid $5.80 as a 9-5 favorite. Plainsman earned a career-best 100 Beyer Speed Figure for his $300,000 Ack Ack Handicap (G3) win on October 2 at Churchill Downs under Joel Rosario, who also rode him in the Razorback. Plainsman entered the Razorback with a troubled third-place finish in the $750,000 Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) on Dec. 4 at Aqueduct. He also received a 99 Beyer Speed Figure in the Cigar Mile.
John Gasper, Anthony’s race director, called Plainsman’s 7-year-old debut “incredible” as he was unsure whether the nine-time career winner would be able to stay in training about a year ago. year due to foot problems. The Razorback was his fifth career win and his third in a Grade 3 event. It funded $1,203,207.
“It’s like me and Brad talking after he ran the Cigar Mile,” Gasper said. “It was probably the best race of his life and he got beat up. Then the other day Joel said to me after the race, he was like, ‘This horse wanted to win today.’ He just has that kind of fighting instinct in him, I guess.
Cox said Plainsman, first, second or third in 20 of 28 lifetime starts, could “very well” make his next start in the $500,000 Essex Handicap (G3) for older horses at 1 1/16 miles on March 19. Essex is a major local prep for the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses at 1 1/8 miles on April 23.
Anthony’s (PF Mayboy) first Oaklawn winner came on February 16, 1972, in a $15,000 claim event for older horses at 1 mile and 70 yards. The $7,500 scholarship. Anthony has since campaigned for Eclipse Award winners Temperence Hill, Vanlandingham and Prairie Bayou. Temperence Hill and Vanlandingham are also Oaklawn Stakes winners.
Born on the Bayou
Major stakes winner Wells Bayou is set to launch his second comeback in Monday’s eighth race, a $101,000 stake-level allowance for older horses at 1 mile. The likely release time is 4:39 p.m. (Central).
Coached by Brad Cox, Wells Bayou headed to the 2020 Kentucky Derby after a lead win in the $1million (G2) Louisiana Derby in March at Fair Grounds. Then COVID-19 hit hard, the Kentucky Derby was moved to September, Wells Bayou finished a disappointing fifth in the second division of the rescheduled $500,000 Arkansas Derby (G1) in May and bone bruises suffered. discarded the champion’s son look lucky for the remainder of 2020.
Wells Bayou resurfaced with a third-place finish in the $125,000 Louisiana Stakes (G3) for Older Horses in January 2021 at Fair Grounds before illness and a foot problem put its racing schedule on hold. Wells Bayou came back to run a strong third in the $400,000 Oaklawn Mile last April, but pulled out of the race with a leg injury that required surgery. Monday’s run marks a return to the allowance ranks for the first time since a powerful premier-level 1-mile score on his 3-year-old debut in January 2020 at Oaklawn.
“We just hope he runs his course,” co-owner Lance Gasaway said Saturday morning. “More than likely it will take a race to get it back. He worked well. Look forward to it.”
Before returning to Cox late last year, Gasaway said Wells Bayou was undergoing light training at LaCroix Equine, a rehabilitation/early training center in Kentucky, after the surgery. Wells Bayou released three works this year at Oaklawn, including a half-mile move in:47.80 on February 15, ahead of his 5-year-old debut.
Despite only eight career starts, Wells Bayou has earned $912,793. He also finished second in the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds in February 2020 at Oaklawn.
“Obviously, we want to bring it back into graded, graded-stakes corporate races,” Gasaway said. “Hoping to try and make him a millionaire. That’s kind of the goal.”
Oaklawn’s two-round gamble series for older horses includes the $500,000 Essex Handicap (G3) on March 19, the $400,000 Oaklawn Mile (G3) on April 2, and the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) at $1 million on April 23.
Wells Bayou is 9-2 on the morning line for Monday’s race, which also drew 3rd-year winner Mo Mosa, 2nd-year multiple millionaire winner CZ Rocket, winner of the 2nd year and his stablemate Concert Tour and the speedy Mucho, runner-up in the $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes for older horses on January 15 in his last start. Mucho is the program favorite 5-2. Concert Tour adds blinders.
On the advice of blood agent Liz Crow (BSW/Crow Bloodstock), Gasaway and his father, Clint, both lifelong Southeast Arkansas residents, purchased Wells Bayou for $105,000 during the March 2019 2 year old sale from Ocala breeders in training. Crow brokered a deal ahead of the Louisiana Derby to bring in BSW/Crow clients Sol Kumin (Madaket Stables) and Marc Lore (Wonder Stables) as partners.
Clint Gasaway named Wells Bayou after a small community about 70 miles southeast of Little Rock, Ark.
The Gasaways are also set to send their first starter Coach Happy, a 3-year-old son of champion Runhappy, in Monday’s seventh race, a first special weight sprint. Lance Gasaway named Coach Happy after Star City, Ark. high school football coach Happy Grayson. Gasaway graduated from Star City and worked there as an assistant coach in the late 1990s under Grayson. Cox coaches Coach Happy, a $165,000 April 2-year-old OBS in training purchase.
David Cabrera rode four winners on Saturday, winning race three aboard Lord M ($7) for trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs, race four aboard River Echo ($9.80) for trainer Karl Broberg, the seventh race aboard Novel Squall ($14.20) for trainer John Ortiz and the eighth race aboard Trident Hit ($9.40) for Moquett. Trident Hit represented the 13th victory of the meeting and the 290th overall at Oaklawn for Moquett.
Francisco Arrieta rode two winners on Saturday. Arrieta won race five aboard favorite Royal Daaher ($6.80) for trainer Jimmy DiVito and race six aboard favorite Eastside Cool ($5.20) for trainer Scott Becker. Royal Daaher ran the fastest 6 furlongs of the 2021-22 meeting (1:09.23) in the 1¼ length allowance victory.
Heavily favored Happy Soul ($4) became Oaklawn’s first stakes winner sired by sprint champ Runhappy with a three-length victory in Saturday’s $150,000 Dixie Belle for 3-year-old sprinter fillies . Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, the regular Happy Soul rider, was on board for trainer Wesley Ward, who said in a post-race phone interview that she would return to her base in Keeneland on Tuesday. Ward said he was using the Dixie Belle, Happy Soul’s first start since June, as preparation for Keeneland’s $600,000 Ashland Stakes (G1) on April 8 or his $400,000 Beaumont Stakes (G3) on April 10. . The Ashland, a major prep of Kentucky Oaks, is 1 1/16 miles. The Beaumont is about 7 furlongs down the main track. Happy Soul never ran around two towers. The Dixie Belle gave Ward a win at the Oaklawn Stakes for the third straight year after Kimari won the $100,000 Purple Martin for 3-year-old sprinters in 2020 and the $200,000 Spring Fever for sprinters older last February. Happy Soul’s winning time in the Dixie Belle was 1:10.44. The track was fast.
Oaklawn Barn Notes by Robert Yates
Photo: Plainsman wins Razorback against Thomas Shelby/Coady Photography