Home of the Louisiana Derby

BARN NOTES: January 28, 2016

  • ·        Champion Untapable Back to Work
  • ·        Just Wicked Training Well; Stageplay to Rachel Alexandra
  • ·        Harlan Punch Ready for Sophomore Debut
  • ·        Work Tab



Winchell Thoroughbreds’ homebred Untapable, the Eclipse Award Champion 3-year-old filly of 2014 and a Grade I winner in her 4-year-old season for trainer Steve Asmussen, took the first steps toward what will likely be her final season of racing on Thursday morning. The leading female earner of champion sire Tapit worked an easy half-mile at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots – over which she won both the Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes and Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks in 2014 – in 52 flat. The work ranked 52nd of 57 moves at the popular distance and was little more than a leg-stretcher for the five-time Grade I winner.

“Untapable is doing great,” Asmussen said after the work.

“She did great up here (in Kentucky),” David Fiske, Winchell’s racing manager, echoed. “She went from Keeneland to the farm to spend some time in the hyperbaric chamber. She was turned out in round pens and had a little break and then got to the Fair Grounds around the second week of December.

“We haven’t decided on (a campaign) or anything yet, but the (Grade I $600,000) Apple Blossom (at Oaklawn Park on Apr. 15) is a possibility. It all depends on how she comes around and it’s still a ways out. Right now she looks great and (Asmussen) said he’s really happy with how she’s doing.”

The winner of the Grade I $2,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Distaff in 2014, Untapable was scratched three days prior to that same event in 2015 with a temperature and has not raced since finishing second in the Grade I $500,000 Spinster Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 4.

Overall, the half-sister to Grade I winner and promising young sire Paddy O’Prado has nine wins from 17 starts and is one of only three fillies – along with Ashado and the great Princess Rooney – to win both the Kentucky Oaks and Distaff.



On the work tab for Winchell Thoroughbreds and Steve Asmussen on Thursday – along with champion Untapable – was graded stakes winner Just Wicked. Another daughter of Tapit, the impressive winner of the Grade II $200,000 Adirondack Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 15 has not raced since finishing a disappointing sixth as the 2-1 favorite in the Grade I $400,000 Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland in early October. Overall, the 3-year-old gray filly has two wins from five starts and capped her juvenile season with two off-the-board finishes going two turns.

“We don't have anything immediately planned for her,” David Fiske, Winchell’s racing manager, said. “We might try her sprinting a couple times and see if that’s what she really wants to do. Things didn’t set up quite right for her at the end of the year, so maybe that’s why she didn’t run well. Everything is on the table with her. Tapits seem to run well on lots of surfaces and distances.”

Earlier this week, one of the other well-regarded gray Asmussen-trained sophomore fillies worked in Mike G. Rutherford’s Stageplay. Fresh off a professional victory in the Listed $150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes, the daughter of Curlin and half-sister to Louisiana Derby runner-up and Preakness-placed Mylute worked a half-mile in 51.60.

Asmussen confirmed that Stageplay will be pointed to the second leg of the three major local steppingstones to the Kentucky Oaks – the Grade II $200,000 TwinSpires.com Rachel Alexandra Stakes on Feb. 20.



Rosemont Farm’s homebred Harlan Punch, despite more credentials than any of his rivals in Sunday’s featured allowance/optional claiming event, may be slightly overshadowed by his rivals. The well-built son of Harlan’s Holiday, who won on debut at Ellis Park in August and followed that up with a runner-up finish in the Listed $200,000 Jean Lafitte Stakes and a third last out in the Grade III $1,000,000 Delta Jackpot – both at Delta Downs – has been training forwardly for trainer Tom Amoss, but runs against Rachel Alexandra’s half-brother Dolphus and impressive local maiden winner Jensen.

“He breezed this past week and we hoped it would go well and it did,” Amoss said. “He’s doing well and this race is a natural step for him. It’s his first start since November and he still has conditions.

“It’s a good field,” Amoss continued. “He’s a horse who can be tactically placed, but by no means is he a speed horse. Hopefully he’s doing his best running at the end.”

The Kentucky-bred bay colt tuned up for Sunday’s mile and 70-yard event with a strong five-furlong move in 1:01.40. Defending champion jockey James Graham has the mount from post two in the six-sophomore field.



Winchell Thoroughbreds’ champion Untapable worked a half-mile in 52 flat in what was the Breeders’ Cup champ’s first work of her 5-year-old season for trainer Steve Asmussen.

LNJ Foxwoods’ Steve Asmussen-trained Grade I winner Nickname worked six furlongs in a sharp 1:12.80 for her connections as she prepares for her 3-year-old bow.

Fox Hill Farm’s five-time stakes winner Cassatt worked a sharp five furlongs as she prepares to  defend her title in the Grade III $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic at Sam Houston this weekend for trainer Larry Jones.

Just Wicked, a Grade II winner at two in 2015, worked for the third time since returning to training for Winchell Thoroughbreds and Steve Asmussen, negotiating five furlongs in 1:02.20 for the second-consecutive week.

William S. Farish’s Eagle, second last out as the 8-5 favorite in the Listed $75,000 Louisiana Stakes on Jan. 16, worked a half-mile in 49.20 for trainer Neil Howard.

Multiple stakes winner Thirteen Arrows (above), a four-length victress last out in the $60,000 Pan Zareta Stakes on Dec. 26, worked five furlongs in a bullet 59.80 for trainer Larry Jones and owner Fox Hill Farm.

Mike G. Rutherford’s homebred multiple stakes winner and graded stakes-placed Stageplay worked a half-mile in 51.60 for trainer Steve Asmussen. The Grade II $200,000 TwinSpires.com Rachel Alexandra Stakes on Feb. 20 is next for the daughter of Curlin.

Larry and Cindy Jones’ homebred Jensen worked five furlongs in 1:02.80 on Tuesday in advance of his meeting with Harlan Punch and Dolphus in Sunday’s salty sophomore allowance.

Richard and Bertram Klein’s well-bred homebred Cash Back – impressive when winning both her debut and an allowance – worked three furlongs in 36.80 for trainer Brad Cox.


-Michael Adolphson | Media Specialist, Senior Writer