HOT SPRINGS -- After a long break, one potential star seems geared to go.
Columbine Stable's Carribean Caper, a daughter of Speightstown trained by Al Stall, was shipped from Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans for today's $150,000 Poinsettia Stakes for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort.
Post time for the Poinsettia, the first of two stakes set for today, is scheduled for 3:18 p.m. The $200,000 Tinsel Stakes for horses 3-years-old and up has a post time set for 4:18.
Eight are entered for the Poinsettia.
The 4-year-old Carribean Caper, who has 5 wins in 7 career starts with $365,095 in earnings, is the Poinsettia's 5-2 morning-line favorite. She began her career with five consecutive wins, the final by 6 lengths in the Grade III Dogwood Stakes in 1:22.57 over 7 furlongs at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., on Sept. 25, 2021.
"We gave her the winter off by design in hopes of bringing her back and having a good 4-year-old year," Stall said. "All of that went perfectly -- trained at the Fair Grounds was in great shape and got up to Churchill and after about three or four weeks up there, she just wasn't moving like she had all winter long. It wasn't anything serious, but we just had to give her more time off."
Colby Hernandez is listed to ride Carribean Caper, whose return to racing began with a fourth-place finish in the 7-furlong Seeking the Pearl Stakes in a field of eight at Colonial Downs in New Kent, Va, on Sept. 25. She also finished fourth in the 6-furlong Thanksgiving Stakes at Fair Grounds on Nov. 24.
"We just couldn't find a race anywhere, because she has no conditions," Stall said. "She's won too many times, so we ended up in Virginia, of all places, going seven-eighths because we just had to run her, and she didn't run bad at all."
Carribean Caper was next entered at Keeneland.
"Wake up the morning of the race, 102.6 temperature," Stall said. "You got to be kidding me. I just couldn't find another race for her, so I ended up running her against the boys here at the Fair Grounds. She ran a good race, came out of that race extremely well, and this race was sitting on the calendar. We said we're going to make hay while the sun shines, and we're going to run her back."
Hernandez has ridden each of Carribean Caper's starts.
Pretty Birdie, 3-1 on the morning line, is entered off her most recent start when she finished last of five, 37 lengths behind the winner in the Grade III Victory Ride Stakes at Belmont Park in New York on July 9. Prior to the Victory Ride, Pretty Birdie had earned $370,738 from seven starts, including three wins.
A 3-year-old daughter of Bird Song, Pretty Birdie, trained by Norm Casse, won Oaklawn's 6-furlong Purple Martin Stakes for 3-year-old fillies last season before her second-place finish in the Grade II Eight Belles Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs on May 6.
Randal Family Trust's Novel Squall (15, 5-1-2, $328,648), a 4-year-old daughter of Violence, has not raced since May 30, 2022. She has won two of seven starts at Oaklawn. Ricardo Santana Jr. is listed to ride Novel Squall, trained by John Ortiz.
"This filly's been ready to run for probably over a month now," Ortiz said. "She's as fit as I ever want a racehorse to come back in. We tried to enter her in different spots, but the races weren't going, and honestly, she's a horse for the course. She loves Oaklawn Park."
Ron Moquett trains Sarah Harper, a 4-year-old daughter of Vancouver. At 6-1 on the morning line, Sarah Harper is one of several dependent on a good trip.
"This a talented field, but we like our horse," Moquett said. "We like the way she's coming into the race. I like her last few races, so I like her chances."
Stall said he believes Carribean Caper can return to at least her former level.
"This is her third race after a long layoff, so I think she's sitting on her proper race," he said. "We're looking for her to regain her form, and maybe she can even be a little better."