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Oaklawn's holly, jolly run concludes with the Tinsel

by Pete Perkins Special to the Democrat-Gazette | December 18, 2021 at 2:19 a.m.

HOT SPRINGS -- The final new stakes race of Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort's first season to start in December comes today.

A seven-horse field is entered for the $200,000, 1 1/8-mile Tinsel Stakes for horses three years old and up. The scheduled post for the Tinsel is 4:13 p.m.

The Tinsel is the ninth of 10 races on Oaklawn's card and the last of four first-season stakes named with a nod toward Christmas at the racetrack, proceeded this month by the Advent, Mistletoe, and Poinsettia stakes.

R A Hill Stable's and Flying P Stable's Lone Rock, winner of the Grade II $250,000 Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Stakes over 1 1/8 miles at Del Mar on Nov. 6, is the 8/5 morning-line favorite. Trained by Robertino Diodoro, Lone Rock's listed rider is Ramon Vazquez.

"He's a pretty nice horse," Diodoro said.

Lone Rock, 36 13-4-2, is a six-year-old gelded son of Majestic Warrior and maternal grandson of Hard Spun. He has won six of eight starts and five of his past six in 2021, each with Vazquez on board, including the Grade II 1 1/2-mile Brooklyn Stakes at Belmont Park on June 5. Lone Rock was 3 2-1-0 at Oaklawn last season.

Vazquez has ridden Lone Rock since their win at Belmont last summer.

"When a rider suits a horse, you don't want to change it up," Diodoro said. "He's done a great job with the horse."

Florent Geroux is set to ride Ten Strike Racing's and Madaket Stables' Warrior's Charge, the 5-2 second choice from the barn 0f Brad Cox, winner of the 2020 Eclipse Award as outstanding trainer.

In his last start, Warrior's Charge finished second by a nose to Tinsel entrant Thomas Shelby in a field of six optional-claimers racing 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, Ky., on Oct. 24.

"He likes Oaklawn," Cox said. "I think it's a good spot. He drew well. Looks like a shorter field. I think it's good timing since his last race. He received some big figures out of his last run and he's had plenty of time to recover from it. If he gets some similar figures again, I think we'll be in good shape."

Warrior's Charge, 19 5-5-4, is a five-year-old son of Munnings and a career earner of $1,045,690. He has seven starts this year, including four in graded stakes and three at Oaklawn, but he has yet to win. However, Warrior's Charge has won three of eight career starts at Oaklawn, including the 2020 Grade III Razorback Handicap.

"He's a good horse, and he has proven he can run at Oaklawn," Geroux said.

Charle Fipke's Title Ready, a six-year-old son of More Than Ready, finished 11th of 12 in the Dubai World Cup in March and took eight months off. But he returned to the track from trainer Dallas Stewart's stable to finish third in a $150,000 optional-claiming start over 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs on Nov. 13.

With Brian Hernandez, Jr. set to ride, Title Ready is the 9-2 third choice in the Tinsel.

Winchell Thoroughbred's Tenfold, a six-year-old son of Curlin and maternal grandson of Tapit is trained by Steve Asmussen, a member of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. The Tinsel will be his first Oaklawn start since he finished fifth of nine in the 2018 Grade I Arkansas Derby. Tenfold, 28 4-2-4, has earned $1,245,245, with wins in the Grade II Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga Race Course in 2018 and the Grade III Pimlico Special at Pimlico Race Course in 2019.

"I definitely think this race will have an interesting finish," said jockey David Cohen, listed to ride Tinsel entrant Thomas Shelby, owned by M And M Racing.

Diodoro also trains Thomas Shelby, a front-running son of Curlin. Thomas Shelby is 8-1 on the morning line, but Cohen said he likes the six-year-old gelding's chance.

"He doesn't have any stakes races under him," Cohen said. "The other ones do, like Tenfold and Warrior's Charge. I think the great thing about Thomas Shelby is his ability to go to the lead, set a fast pace and hold on. That's one of his biggest tools, and he's been very consistent his last three races with the numbers that he ran. He can perform at this level, even though he hasn't run in stakes company yet."

Thomas Shelby, 23 10-2-4, has won his past three starts, each on the lead from start to finish.

"I like the speed he has, and he likes to carry it," Diodoro said. "He likes to run them off their feet. Ever since we started running him two turns and on the lead, he's really come around. We're not changing plans on Saturday. We'll put him on the lead and see if he can carry it."

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