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BARN NOTES: December 17, 2015

  • ·        Speightstastic A Capable Maiden in Letellier
  • ·        Cox Opting for Tiffany Lass for Cash Control, Midnight Sweetie
  • ·        Ibaka Seeks Open Stakes Win in Diliberto
  • ·        Commanding Curve Tops Work Tab


Though winless and the current 7-2 morning-line third choice in Saturday’s $50,000 Letellier Memorial at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch’s Speightstastic could – based on her enviable class lines – foreseeably wind up as the race-time favorite. The juvenile daughter of Speightstown has finished second in all three of career tries and each time astern an impressive victress.

“She’s caught three extremely nice horses at Churchill Downs,” said trainer Bret Calhoun. “I know the two who beat her in her first two tries came back and won and Steve’s filly was a million-dollar filly, so obviously they think a lot of her.”

In her first two attempts, the daughter of stakes-winning Cherokee Jewel – a winner of five of 10 career starts – ran into Susies Yankee Girl and Durango, who both came back to win in allowance company last out, and was defeated 2¼ lengths by each. Stepped up from six furlongs in her second attempt to 7½ furlongs last out, she ran into Stonestreet Farm’s Royal Obsession, from the barn of Steve Asmussen, who caught her in the final eighth to win by 1¼ lengths. A November sale in-training purchase for $1.15 million (and $1,000,000 yearling), Royal Obsession is thought of as one of the top Kentucky Oaks prospects in the Asmussen barn.

“(Speightstastic) has been well thought of for a while,” Calhoun said. “We would have been happy to run her in a maiden race, but the problem was the timing. When this race came available we thought she fit very well with these fillies and it bought ourselves a little time after she shipped down from Churchill.

“She’s been a little too aggressive. She came in from the farm and they said she was aggressive, but we’ve spent most of our time settling her and relaxing her,” he continued. “(Jockey) Jamie (Theriot) has done a very good job settling her. We’d like to develop her as a stalker, but she has plenty of speed to be forwardly placed.”


Trainer Brad Cox has cross-entered Centaur Racing USA’s Midnight Sweetie and Richard and Bertram Klein’s Cash Control in the $60,000 Blushing K. D. Stakes and the $50,000 Tiffany Lass Stakes. The Blushing K. D. is contested at 1 1/16-miles on the grass, while the Tiffany Lass is at a mile and 70 yards on the main track. Despite drawing unfavorably in the latter (posts nine and 10), Cox has confirmed that Cash Control and Midnight Sweetie are more likely for the Tiffany Lass. While at 6-1 and 12-1 on the Blushing K. D. morning line, the pair are 3-1 and 6-1 in the Tiffany Lass, with Cash Control being assigned favoritism.

A third Cox charge entered in the Blushing K. D. is Street of Gold, a stakes-winning and graded stakes-placed daughter of Street Sense who will be making her first start the Cox barn. Owned by Elm Racing, Street of Gold was previously trained by Eric Reed and exits a closing fourth in the Grade III $100,000 Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 21.

“The plan right now is to run both Cash Control and Midnight Sweetie in the Tiffany Lass,” Cox stated. “Street of Gold has been doing very well. We worked her last week and expect a good effort from her.”


A seven-time winner in 15 starts and four-time restricted stakes victor, Doug Wall’s Ibaka will seek open stakes glory in Saturday’s $60,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Over 1 1/16-miles on the Stall-Wilson turf course, the Diliberto will be Ibaka’s second attempt over the grass after impressively wiring 11 other Oklahoma-breds on Oct. 16 in the $130,000 Oklahoma Turf Classic at Remington Park at odds of 21-1. Since, the son of Uncle Abbie has flourished at Fair Grounds, despite a slight foot issue that prevented a start in a November allowance. He has continued to work well, including a sharp five-furlong move in 59.60 on Nov. 28.

“He missed his prep with a foot abscess and now we are forced to see if he fits here,” trainer Bret Calhoun said. “It’s a bit of a reach, but with that being said, the turf really moves him forward and he wasn’t 100 percent ready for his last race and ran an incredibly good race.”

A frontrunner, Ibaka will break from post three under Richard Eramia on Saturday and has been assigned morning-line odds of 12-1 in what looks to be a wide-open affair.


West Point Thoroughbreds’ classic-placed Commanding Curve (above) worked a bullet five furlongs in 1:00 flat on Wednesday for trainer Dallas Stewart. Seventh last out in the Grade I $600,000 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga on Sept. 5, the son of Master Command has won once from three starts in 2015 when taking a Churchill Downs allowance in May.

Highly regarded buzz filly Royal Obsession, a sparkling winner on debut going 7½ furlongs at Churchill Downs on Nov. 29, returned to the work tab for trainer Steve Asmussen and owner Stonestreet Farm. A $1,000,000 yearling and $1.15 million 2-year-old in training sale purchase, the daughter of Tapit negotiated five furlongs in 1:02.20 on Tuesday morning.

Vinery Stables’Regally Ready put the finishing touches on his preparation for Saturday’s $60,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial with a half-mile move in 51.80 on Monday morning for trainer Steve Asmussen.

William S. Farish’s homebred Eagle, who is expected to be one of the favorites in Saturday’s $60,000 Tenacious Stakes, put in his final move before such with a half-mile work in 49.40 for trainer Neil Howard on Monday morning.

L. T. B. Inc. and Hillerich Racing’s multiple stakes winner Mizz Money worked five furlongs in 1:02 flat on Thursday for trainer, co-breeder and part-owner Bernie Flint. The move was her second since a brief freshening following an off-the-board finish in the Grade I $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.

-Michael Adolphson | Media Specialist, Senior Writer