Kirstenbosch Scores Last-Gasp Nose Victory In G3 La Canada

by Mike Willman/Santa Anita
Arcadia, CA (January 15, 2023)-Kazushi Kimura, Eclipse Award-winning apprentice jockey of 2019, won his first-ever Santa Anita race in style on Sunday as he drove John Sadler-trained Kirstenbosch to a desperate nose victory over favorite Ganadora in the $200,000 La Canada Stakes (G3).

Owned and bred by Keith Abrahams and raised at Columbiana Farm, Kirstenbosch covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.19 on a track listed as good.

Attentive to the pace from her rail post, Kirstenbosch was about 2 ½ lengths off dueling leaders Ganadora and Angel Nadeshiko leaving the quarter pole. Three-deep through the lane, Kirstenbosch appeared to draw even with Ganadora, with John Velasquez aboard, inside the final sixteenth, but victory was very much in doubt as Kimura stayed busy with a powerful hand ride in a thrilling finish.

“It feels so amazing, my first win here and in a Grade 3; it’s amazing,” said Kimura, 23, who was also Woodbine’s leading rider this past season. “She’s always a bit lazy, she always needs like a little bit of pushing. At the half mile last time I rode her in the La Brea ([G1] on Dec. 26), it was a seven-furlong race, and I was just pushing her to the wire. Today, I was more confident to say she would show up better than last time (when she finished third).

“John has given me opportunities since opening day. I’m really happy to win for him and I really appreciate it.”

Second in the Zia Park Oaks two starts back on Nov. 22, Kirstenbosch was off at 3-1 in a field of six older fillies and mares in the La Canada and paid $8.60 for the win.

“He just rode her beautifully, he tried hard until the end,” said Juan Leyva, assistant to Sadler, who watched the race today from London. “He is a really nice kid. I’d like to see him really get going because he is so polite and he’s a good rider too. … Hopefully, this will open up some eyes and he can get a lot more opportunities.

“When she started running, I thought she was going to win by at least half a length, but then it looked like when she got to Ganadora, she kind of just hung with her and this filly just tends to do that. She does just enough to win, she’s never been one to just pull away, so that’s the only thing I was afraid of. … But she got the job done so that’s the main thing. I’m really happy for Keith because they have been long-time clients of John and they are just good people.”

In notching her first stakes win, Kirstenbosch improved her overall race record to 3-3-1 from 10 starts. With the winner’s share of $120,000, the 4-year-old Midnight Lute filly, increased her earnings to $334,480. Bred in Kentucky, she was produced by the Belong to Me mare Llandudno.

Fractions on the race were :23.12, :47.18, 1:11.15, and 1:37.62.

Locally Stabled Wildatlanticstorm Upsets Favored Shippers in $400,000 Springboard Mile

Courtesy of
Oklahoma City, OK (December 17, 2022)-Wildatlanticstorm keyed a lot of firsts, winning the $400,000 Springboard Mile on Saturday night, for trainer Ray Ashford at 15-1 odds. The large colt scored the biggest 2-year-old stakes race of the Remington Park season.

For the third time in the past five years, a locally-based horse took on all shippers from around the country and got the best of them. It was the first time in this race’s 22 years that an Iowa-bred had won. It also was the first time Ashford had entered a horse in the Springboard Mile and the first time that jockey Leandro Goncalves had ridden in the race.

Only seven other trainers have won the Springboard Mile in their first try – Saffie Joseph (2021, Make It Big), Todd Fincher (2020, Senor Buscador), Adam Kitchingman (2017, Greyvitos), Joe Sharp (2016, Cool Arrow), Danele Durham (2012, Texas Bling), Graham Motion (2009, Turf Melody) and Gary Thomas (2007, Golden Yank).

Ashford, a 51-year-old conditioner from Carlsbad, N.M. who has a home in Moore, Okla., had this 3-year-old son of Stormy Atlantic (Storm Cat), out of the Big Brown mare Imsortaspecial, wound up and ready to fire. The break from the gate was the first good omen for Wildatlanticstorm as 4-5 favorite Giant Mischief from trainer Brad Cox’s barn, a shipper from Kentucky, lunged at the start, spotting the field a couple of lengths. Wildatlanticstorm, under Goncalves, settled in third in the early going and the jock kept him out of harm’s way down on the inside rail.

“I just sat between horses as we hit the backstretch. Coming up the rail, I knew we were loaded,” Goncalves said. “The last 16th of a mile I was kind of scared because he looked at the lights, but I could feel I had more left.”

It’s a good thing, too, because jockey Florent Geroux, aboard Giant Mischief was making up every bit of ground he had lost at the start. In the end, Wildatlanticstorm held off the favorite by 1-1/4 lengths. It was the 18th time in 22 years that the favorite in the race had been beaten. It was also the fifth time in the past 10 years that the winner had prepped at Remington Park. Wildatlanticstorm came into the Springboard off a win in the $100,000 Clever Trevor Stakes on Oct. 28.

Goncalves also became the 10th jockey to win the Springboard Mile in his first try. He joined the likes of Jose Ortiz (2021), Victor Espinoza (2017), Luis Saez (2016), Erik McNeil (2012), Jeremy Rose (2009), the late Miguel Mena (2008), Carlos Gonzalez (2007), Brian Hernandez, Jr. (2004) and Donnie Meche (2002).

Wildatlanticstorm covered the one mile in 1:38.24 over a fast track after chasing fractions set by Echo Again and American Outlaw of :23.89 for the first quarter-mile, :47.14 for the half, 1:12.07 for three-quarters of a mile and 1:24.59 for seven-eighths of a mile.

Owner Jim Jorgensen, who also bred the winner, earned $240,000 for Wildatlanticstorm’s victory and his horse improved to six starts, four wins and two seconds for $366,568.

Wildatlanticstorm raced on the bleeder medication Lasix, so he didn’t earn any Kentucky Derby points, but Ashford said that was the plan.

“We were going to see how he did in this race and if he showed he was good enough, we will have to take him off (Lasix) down the road in other Kentucky Derby point races,” said Ashford.

The Steve Asmussen trainee, Echo Again (9-5), earned three Kentucky Derby points for finishing third, three lengths back of Giant Mischief in second. Gunflash (20-1), from the meet’s top trainer Karl Broberg, earned two points for fourth and Campfire Creed (12-1) got one point from the Danny Pish barn for fifth. They were the only three horses that raced without Lasix. The rest of the finish in the race was Money Run (sixth at 80-1), Lil Sweet Thang (seventh, 16-1), Ghost Hero (eighth, 19-1) and American Outlaw (ninth, 25-1).

“We are really tired right now; we saw that 5-horse coming (Giant Mischief) and I got really nervous,” said Ashford. “We will rest a couple of days and then make a game plan for him.”

Wildatlanticstorm paid $32 to win, $7.40 to place and $4 to show. He is the first foal for his dam, Imsortaspecial. The winner became only the fourth chestnut to win the Springboard and he is the big red horse in the barn.

“My boys had this horse up at Claremore (Will Rogers Downs) while I was at Lone Star Park this summer (in July) and they’d call me every day bragging on the red horse. The red horse. The red horse. I had to pull the Dad card and get him to Lone Star and when he got there I saw that they were right.”

December 20 update: Wildatlanticstorm, a two-time stakes winner and victor in the richest race for 2-year-olds at Remington Park, the $400,000 Springboard Mile, has been voted the Horse of the Meet for the recently completed 2022 Thoroughbred season.

Rated R Superstar Shows His Love For Remington Park

Courtesy of
Oklahoma City, OK (December 17, 2022)-Rated R Superstar shows up when the lights shine brightest and it was no different on Saturday night at Remington Park as he took down the $102,000 Jeffrey Hawk Memorial Stakes.

The 9-year-old gelding just seems to be getting better and better with age for Remington Park’s all-time winningest owner Danny Caldwell of Poteau, Okla. The son of Kodiak Kowboy (Posse), out of the Gold Case mare Wicked Wish, had all his wishes come true in this race as the heavily favored shipper from trainer Brad Cox’s barn, Caddo River (4-5) just didn’t fire in the 1-mile, 70-yard race over the main track.

Rated R Superstar loves the Remington Park main track, winning for the third time here in only four tries. He earned $60,000 for his trip to the winner’s circle and saw his record boosted overall to 65 starts, 13 wins, 10 seconds and eight thirds for $1,781,280. On Remington Park’s dirt surface he is now 4-3-1-0 for $278,000.

Rated R Superstar won his fifth stakes race since Aug. 20, 2021 when he took the $175,000 Governor’s Cup at Remington Park. He then shipped to Oaklawn Park at Hot Springs, Ark., in 2022 and took down the $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes on Jan. 15 there and then the Grade 3 Essex Handicap on March 19. On his return to Remington Park this year, he won the Governor’s Cup again on Aug. 19.

Jockey Isaac Castillo took over in the saddle for four-time Remington Park jockey champion David Cabrera, who didn’t make the trip back to Oklahoma City from Oaklawn, where he raced Saturday. Rated R Superstar was one of two stakes winners on Saturday that Cabrera had ridden in their last starts. He was aboard $400,000 Springboard Mile winner Wildatlanticstorm when he won the Clever Trevor Stakes in October.

“Danny told me about this horse,” Castillo said after the race. “So I tried to save ground with him and get him into the best position down the lane.”

As they hit the top of the stretch, Rated R Superstar pulled off his patented wide swing to the middle of the track and everyone in front of him in the eight-horse field, coming from seventh place.

“He always does that,” said Castillo. “At the quarter pole I knew I had a lot of power under me.”

Caldwell said he would follow the same path with his veteran hard-knocking stakes winner and go to Oaklawn and hopefully have him in the Fifth Season again in January as a 10-year-old.

“I was lucky to be able to pick up Castillo when David couldn’t come,” said Caldwell. “We are really blessed with this horse.”

Caldwell claimed Rated R Superstar for $50,000 at Oaklawn on Jan. 21, 2021, and he has won six times since then, five of those in stakes, so he has more than earned all that money back for his owner.

Caldwell and his trainer Federico Villafranco tried him on the turf at Remington Park in the $100,000 Remington Green on Sept. 25 but he ran a dismal 11th in a field of 12.

“He’s just not a turf horse, but we really didn’t have anything else to run him in,” said Caldwell.

Rated R Superstar went off at 7-2 odds and paid $9.60 to win, $3.80 to place and $4.80 to show. He was bred in Kentucky by Thorndale Stable. It wasn’t easy sledding for Rated R Superstar, however, as Oklahoma-bred Number One Dude (4-1) pushed him to the limits. The margin of victory turned out to be a half-length. The huge longshot Shadrack (60-1) checked in third, another 1-3/4 lengths back. It was the first win for all connections in this race.

Caddo River only beat two horses in the eight-horse field, finishing in sixth place. The remaining finishers included Hello Hot Rod (4th), Paluxy (5th), Eastside Cool (7th) and That’s Something (8th).

The Jeffrey Hawk Memorial is named in honor of prominent Remington Park owner and breeder Bryan Hawk’s brother who passed away in 2017.

Wildatlanticstorm Takes $100,000 Clever Trevor S

Oklahoma City, OK (October 28, 2022)-All kinds of 2-year-old horses shipped in for the $100,000 Clever Trevor Stakes on Friday night, but in the end it was the same two local horses fighting down the stretch from the $75,000 Kip Deville Stakes at Remington Park on Sept. 25.

Campfire Creed got the best of Wildatlanticstorm in the Kip Deville by 1-3/4 lengths going six furlongs on a fast track. On Friday night, however, Wildatlanticstorm turned the tables at seven furlongs on a wet, rainy night over a sloppy track. This time as they came to the wire, Wildatlanticstorm, with jockey David Cabrera up held off the late charge of Campfire Creed to win by a nose at 5-1 odds.

“The last time (in the Kip Deville) we broke bad and rushed him up and lost,” said Cabrera. “Tonight he broke so well and relaxed and was comfortable in the stretch. I had a lot of horse left.”

Wildatlanticstorm, a 2-year-old by Stormy Atlantic (Storm Cat), out of the Big Brown mare Imsortaspecial, fought tooth and nail with Campfire Creed from the top of the stretch to the wire. Wildatlanticstorm was never farther back than fourth down the backstretch while Campfire Creed came from seventh place halfway through the race to engage with a quarter mile to go.

Trainer Ray Ashford had this winner revved up and ready to go for owner Jim Jorgensen of Thornton, IA. Wildatlanticstorm was bred in Iowa by the owner and became the first Iowa-bred to win the Clever Trevor. Wildatlanticstorm was raised at Columbiana Farm for his breeder/owner.

“Sometimes Iowa-breds have a tough time once they get out of the state of Iowa,” said Ashford. “We hope he’s like Tyler’s Tribe.”

Tyler’s Tribe, an Iowa-bred trained by former Remington Park conditioner Tim Martin, is 5-for-5 lifetime at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, IA., including four stakes victories. That 2-year-old is on his way to the Breeders’ Cup next week at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky., in that horse’s first race outside of Iowa.

This was the fourth time Cabrera has won the Clever Trevor Stakes. He also made a trip to the winner’s circle aboard El Pando last year, Redatory in 2017 and U.S. Officer in 2016. All four of Cabrera’s wins have come for different trainers and owners. It was the first win for Ashford and Jorgensen in this series.

Juvenile horses had made the trip into Oklahoma City from New Mexico, Kentucky, Texas and Minnesota. The best a shipper finished in the Clever Trevor was Money Run (5-1) in fifth place, after he won a maiden claiming $75,000 race at Churchill Downs on Oct. 2. When all was said and done, the top four finishers were all locally stabled horses. Campfire Creed was sent off the 5-2 post-time favorite, finishing 7-1/4 lengths ahead of third-place finisher Toddchero (9-1), 2-1/2 lengths in front of Lil Sweet Thang in fourth place.

Wildatlanticstorm has not finished worse than second in five lifetime races. He earned $60,000 for this victory and improved his record to 5-3-2-0 for $126,568 in earnings, almost doubling his bankroll. Going into the race he had earned $66,568.

Wildatlanticstorm cut into early fractions of :22:44 for the first quarter-mile, :45.47 for the half-mile and 1:10.85 for three-quarters of a mile. His winning time was 1:23.62. Wildatlanticstorm paid $13.40 to win, $5.20 to place and $4.40 to show.

Champion Ce Ce Powers To Repeat Victory In Santa Anita’s Chillingworth, Aims For Breeders’ Cup Repeat

Benoit Photo

by Mike Willman/Santa Anita
Arcadia, CA (October 2, 2022)-A joy to behold, Bo Hirsch’s marvelous 6-year-old mare Ce Ce brought her A-Game at Santa Anita on Sunday, emphatically defending her title in the $100,000 Chillingworth Stakes (G3) with a 2.25 length triumph as her connections hope for a repeat win as well in the $1-million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) Nov. 5 at Keenland.

Trained by Michael McCarthy and ridden by Victor Espinoza, the reigning champion female sprinter got 6.5 furlongs in 1:16.36.

In hand under Espinoza early, Ce Ce, who tracked Teddy’s Barino, Under the Stars, and Scenic Masterpiece to the half mile pole, was set down at the 3.5 marker, angled four-deep leaving the quarter pole and took command turning for home in a huge effort.

Although well beaten going seven furlongs as the 3-2 favorite in the Ballerina Handicap (G1) Aug. 28 at Saratoga, Ce Ce was hammered in the tote, going off as the 1-5 favorite among five fillies and mares and returned $2.60.

Out of Hirsch’s Grade 1-winning Belong to Me mare Miss Houdini, Ce Ce registered her sixth career graded stakes win and her 11th win from 22 overall starts. With the winner’s check of $60,000, her earnings stand at $2,357,100.

Under the Stars, under Juan Hernandez, kept to her task late and finished 3.5 lengths better than Teddy’s Barino, who led through an opening quarter mile in :22.38 and a half-mile in :44.96.

VICTOR ESPINOZA, CE CE, WINNER: “She ran her race, and that’s all I want from her. It doesn’t matter what happens during the race, as long as she can run her best, it’ll be good and that’s what happened here today. She’s always good, she’s a pro. She can be a little picky and when the track is not her thing, then she will not perform, like the last race in Saratoga. I’m so excited to ride her for the second time in the Breeders’ Cup! I was really proud of her and the way she ran today.”

MICHAEL MCCARTHY, CE CE, WINNER: “I knew you could draw a line through that last one. I think she is as good as she was last year. I knew that race at Saratoga was too bad to be true. She was going in good form. She was in the one hole and she got dirt in her face. I know now why they call Saratoga the graveyard of champions. This was a good tune-up for the Breeders’ Cup (Filly and Mare Sprint).”

BO HIRSCH, CE CE, WINNER: “She’s the type of filly that you just never know. She could get up on the wrong side of the bed sometimes and fool you. That was always in the back of my head. She ran like a one to five should run and I’m so happy. We are all on schedule to go to the Breeders’ Cup, I’m so excited and God willing, we’ll be there.

“It’s all Michael McCarthy. It’s the same schedule we had last year, and he wanted to stay on her. I always wanted to try her on the turf, I would have loved it and I also wanted to get (Michael) to run her next year, but he said, ‘No, no.’ he was too nervous to have this valuable filly running everyday so, the Breeders’ Cup should be her last race then we will retire her, all things being equal.”

Rated R Superstar Scores Second Successive Governor’s Cup Win at Remington Park

by Dale Day/Remington Park|08.20.2022
The highly anticipated rematch between Rated R Superstar and Plainsman never developed in Friday night’s $175,000 Governor’s Cup at Remington Park: Rated R Superstar won the race for the second year in a row while Plainsman faded badly and finished unplaced.

Prior to last year’s race, Remington Park’s all-time winningest owner Danny Caldwell of Poteau, Oklahoma had never won the Governor’s Cup and now he has won it twice. Those two wins and all his others gave him 397 wins at the Oklahoma City track.

Plainsman was forwardly placed in third in this year’s edition but began to fade badly early in the final turn as Rated R Superstar had just begun to rally from the back of the pack. It was Flash of Mischief, last year’s St. Louis Derby winner, that jockey David Cabrera, aboard the winner, would have to pass for the victory.

“He was ready for it when I asked him for all he had (in the stretch),” said Cabrera, who has won the past four riding titles at Remington Park. This was his first stakes win since suffering injury in a riding mishap at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas, in April and was forced to stop riding for three months.

“I want to say how much I really appreciated Danny for giving me these kind of opportunities since my injury,” said Cabrera, who suffered neck, back and facial injuries in the spill.

Caldwell appreciates Cabrera and also the 9-year-old horse that put him in the winner’s circle again, Rated R Superstar, a son of Kodiak Kowboy, out of the Cold Case mare Wicked Wish. Federico Villafranco trains the multiple stakes winner, who was bred in Kentucky by Thorndale Stable.

“I knew Freddy had him ready when I saw him work the other morning,” said Caldwell. “He (Rated R Superstar) was fresh and kicking around and wanted to bite someone. He’s an old veteran that knows what to do and when it’s game time.”

Rated R Superstar and Plainsman had taken turns beating each other in stakes races at Oaklawn all spring, but this was not Plainsman’s night. Sent off as the 6-5 wagering favorite, he finished next to last in the field of seven horses. Ethical Judgement was scratched prior to the race. The winner was a generous 7-2 on the tote board at post-time and came from sixth to win by 1 1/2 lengths.

Runner-up Flash of Mischief was bet heavily at the end of the wagering cycle and went off as the second favorite at 7-5 odds. Longshot Catdaddy (28-1) was another 2 1/2 lengths back in third. The remaining order of finish in the Governor’s Cup was Tiz Life (4th), Oliver (5th), Plainsman (6th), and Box Seat (7th).

Rated R Superstar paid $9 to win. Final time for the 1 1/8 miles was 1:51.20.

Caldwell pocketed $105,000, the winner’s share of the purse as his gelding improved his lifetime record to 63 starts, 12 wins, 10 seconds and eight thirds for $1,721,280. He has won two of three starts at Remington Park for $218,000 in his bankroll here. What was even more impressive with Friday’s victory was that Cabrera and Rated R Superstar chased some fairly slow fractions in the early going and still managed to catch the front runners.

Flash of Mischief set the pace and handled :24.25 for the first quarter mile, :48.87 for the half-mile, three-quarters of a mile in 1:13.10, and the mile in 1:38.24.

The Governor’s Cup was the third stakes win of the year for the old hard-knocking Rated R Superstar. He also won two at Oaklawn, both with Cabrera up. Cabrera, who lives in Jones, Oklahoma, won his first riding title this year at Oaklawn despite missing the final month of that meet. He booted Rated R Superstar home to the winner’s circle in the Fifth Season Stakes at the Arkansas track on January 15 and then in the Essex Handicap (G3) on March 19.

Rated R Superstar became the fourth horse in Remington Park history to win this race in consecutive years. Sportin Okie got things started by taking home the trophy in 1989-90, followed by Cimarron Secret in 1995-96, and lastly by Mr Ross in 1999-2000. It had been 22 years since it had happened.


Ce Ce Overpowers Rivals to Win Princess Rooney for Second Year in a Row

Lauren King Photo

by Mike Welsch
July 2, 2022 (Hallandale Beach, FL)-Reigning female sprint champion Ce Ce looked every bit the part when she returned to Gulfstream Park on Saturday to successfully defend her title in the Grade 2 Princess Rooney with a 6 1/2-length victory over Spirit Wind.

The victory earned her an expenses-paid berth back to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Keeneland on Nov. 5.

Ce Ce sewed up divisional honors winning the BC Filly and Mare Sprint last fall at Del Mar. She launched the second half of her championship season rallying to a 3 1/4-length triumph in the seven-furlong Princess Rooney, and she was arguably even more impressive the second time around.

Ce Ce rated four lengths off the early pace set by Make Mischief while kept out in what appeared to be the better footing well off the rail by her regular rider Victor Espinoza. Ce Ce was roused to commence her bid while remaining wide approaching the stretch, overtook leader Spirit Wind once turning into the lane, then steadily increased her advantage while kept under a mild hand ride.

Spirit Wind, the only 3-year-old in the field, eased back off Make Mischief while forcing the pace down the backstretch before angling off the rail and sticking her head in front at the three-furlong marker. Spirit Wind remained wide exiting the bend and continued gamely to be second. Make Mischief finished third.

Ce Ce, a 6-year-old Elusive Quality homebred owned by Bo Hirsch LLC, completed seven furlongs in 1:22.20. She paid $2.80.

Trainer Michael McCarthy said by phone from California that Make Mischief and Spirit Wind putting pressure on each other benefitted Ce Ce.

“We wound up sitting a dream trip outside the speed,” said McCarthy. “It appeared like the track was better away from the rail and it seemed like it was good wherever she was.”

McCarthy said he doesn’t have enough superlatives to describe his feelings for Ce Ce.

“She just keeps on validating the belief I have in her every time,” said McCarthy. “And she seems like she’s bigger and even stronger this year as a 6 -year-old.”

McCarthy said he’ll likely follow “the same recipe that worked for us last year” getting Ce Ce back to the Filly and Mare Sprint in November. Last year, Ce Ce had two races between the Princess Rooney and the Breeders’ Cup, finishing third in the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga and winning Grade 3 Chillingworth Stakes at Santa Anita.

Ortiz and There Goes Harvard Upset Hollywood Gold Cup

By Tracy Gantz
Arcadia, CA (May 30, 2022)-Cannon Thoroughbreds’ homebred There Goes Harvard scored a 7-1 upset in the May 30 $400,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) over heavy favorites Royal Ship (even) and Stilleto Boy (3-2).

The son of Will Take Charge won by about a length over pacesetting Defunded in a final time of 2:02.66. Royal Ship finished third and Stilleto Boy was fourth.

The victory was the third during the first four races for jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., who came in from his East Coast base for the day and the first Hollywood Gold Cup win for trainer Michael McCarthy.

“It is all about taking the chance,” said McCarthy.

There Goes Harvard races the 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.66.

An earner of $455,090 for his owner breeder, There Goes Harvard was foaled and raised at Columbiana Farm. He is the eighth Grade One winner produced at Columbiana Farm.

Marissa’s Lady Wins Her Fourth Stakes

March 26, 2022 (Florence, KY)-Marissa’s Lady picked up her fourth stakes win in the inaugural running of the $100,000 Serena’s Song.

Once again piloted by Rafael Bejarano the three-year-old Violence filly dueled for the early lead before drawing away to hit the wire two lengths in front. Her running time of 1:09.95 earned her another 94 Equibase Speed Figure.

The William E. Morey trained sophomore homebred filly of the Boone Family Trust and Tillema Family Trust, now has five wins in six starts; as well as a second in the one mile $125,000 Cincinnati Trophy S.

Foaled and raised at Columbiana Farm for her owners, the filly has now earned $397,216 in her six starts.

Rated R Superstar Scores Second Stakes Upset of Meet in Essex H

Mary Rampellini

HOT SPRINGS, AR (March 19, 2022) Rated R Superstar is acting like a youngster. The 9-year-old gelding won his second stakes race of the Oaklawn Park meet Saturday in the Grade 3, $500,000 Essex Handicap.

“He was biting and playing this morning,” said owner Danny Caldwell. “I knew the horse was feeling good, so I knew we had a shot.”

Caldwell and trainer Federico Villafranco celebrated their first graded win in the Essex, while it was the richest career victory for jockey David Cabrera. The celebration came before an estimated ontrack crowd of 37,500, according to figures from Oaklawn.

Rated R Superstar had opened his season in January with a 25-1 win in the $150,000 Fifth Season. He paid $18.60 in the Essex.

“He got that break last year that he really needed and he seemed to come back out of it better than he was,” Caldwell said. “We just kind of freshened him up, let him be himself, and let the horse tell us when he was ready.”

The Essex was the second of two stakes on the card. Bob’s Edge won the Grade 3, $200,000 Whitmore, which was formerly the Hot Springs Stakes.

Rated R Superstar was content to let the pace go as Thomas Shelby and Plainsman dueled through fractions of 23.20 seconds for the opening quarter, 47.18 for the half-mile and 1:11.54 for six furlongs.

Rated R Superstar advanced along the rail on the final turn, angled out into the stretch, and managed to push past the dueling leaders just after the eighth pole. The eventual winner went on to cover the 1 1/16 miles distance on a fast track in 1:43.12.

Plainsman finished 2 1/4 lengths back in second, while it was another neck in third to Beau Luminarie.

It was the second career Essex win for Rated R Superstar, who also captured the race when he was 6. This year, the Essex was run as a newly graded race, just like the Whitmore.

Rated R Superstar on Saturday improved upon his second-place finish in last year’s Essex.

“He ran a big race in the Essex to get beat by Silver State,” Caldwell recalled of the neck loss. “He ran a huge race last year. I knew he had this in him. He’s run good for his previous owners and trainers, and he’s run good for us.”

Caldwell claimed Rated R Superstar in January 2021at Oaklawn for $50,000.

The horse earned $300,000 Saturday to improve his career record to 11 wins from 59 starts for earnings of $1,589,014.

Caldwell said that as long as Rated R Superstar continues to do well, the plan is to advance to the Grade 2, $1 million Oaklawn Handicap on April 23.

“I think he deserves a shot,” he said. “I know it will be a tough field again. He loves to run, so we’ll give it a shot.”