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Barn Notes: Sunday, February 25


•           Grade II Muniz Memorial The Likely Goal For Arklow

•           Hawaakom Will Point To Gr. II Oaklawn Handicap

•           Castanon Enjoying Rewarding Meet



The Grade II $300,000 Muniz Memorial Handicap on Mar. 24 will likely be the next spot for Donegal Racing’s graded stakes winner Arklow, who took Saturday’s ninth race following a six month layoff.

The 4-year-old son of Arch sat well off the pace in the race’s early stages and made a devastating turn of foot under jockey Florent Geroux down the Fair Ground Race Course & Slots stretch to nip stable mate Dot Matrix right on the wire. Both horses were trained by leading trainer Brad Cox.

“That was exciting,” Cox said. “They both ran big. We would have been happy either way, but (Dot Matrix) is a New York bred. He’ll hopefully make his next start at Aqueduct when they open the grass back up. Arklow ran a big race off the layoff. He had a great breeze last week and we thought he was ready so it worked out well.”

Prior to Saturday’s triumph, Arklow last ran in the Gr. II National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga. His lone graded stakes victory took place in the Gr. II American Turf Stakes on Churchill Downs’ May 6 Kentucky Derby undercard.

Ten Strike Racing’s Dot Matrix made his second start for Cox and was previously trained by New York based conditioner Abigail Adsit. Prior to Saturday’s effort the 5-year-old son of Freud defeated next out winner Dontblamerocket over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course on Dec. 23.



While it had previously been reported that Hawaakom, an impressive winner of the Gr. II Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn Park on Monday, Feb. 19, could await an invite to the $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I), trainer Wesley Hawley stated on Sunday morning that the 8-year-old son of Jazil would instead return to the Hot Springs oval for the Gr. II $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap on Apr.14.

“It sounds good and I’d love to go but it’s just not in the plans,” said Hawley, who also co-owns the horse with Stephan Smoot. “Right now the plan is the Oaklawn Handicap. Me and (Stephan Smoot) discussed it and decided that would be better.”

Hawley went on to say that the three-time stakes winner will continue to train at the Fair Grounds for his next start.



The Winter Meet has been a rewarding one for trainer Jose Castanon, and such rewards have continued with a victory from long shot Bobby The Brain ($33.00, $16.20 and $10.60) in Saturday’s fifth race.

The 4-year-old son of Pioneerof The Nile was claimed by Tom Amoss for owner Maggi Moss.

“What can I say? The horse ran a big race,” said Castanon. “We had to work a little bit with him but I mean he has a big heart. He’s a nice horse. (Tom Amoss and Maggi Moss) took it so I guess he’s going to be their next project, but we worked a lot with him.”

In 20 starts, Castanon has won six races finishing in the money at 45%. His winners have generously rewarded their backers throughout the meet with a median payoff of $28.50 and a $8.43 ROI for a $2 win bet. Four of his six winners have paid double digits to win.

“It’s really exciting,” Castanon said. “We’ve just been working hard. I gallop and breeze all of my own horses. I just try to find good spots to run them and they’ve been doing well. When I got here I knew I had good stock, but I’ve been lucky. They’ve all been training really well.”

Castanon’s younger brother is jockey Jesus Castanon, who rides regularly at Tampa Bay Downs in the winter and on the Kentucky circuit throughout the remainder of the year.