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Arkansas Breeders’ filled with potential

by Pete Perkins Special to the Democrat-Gazette | May 7, 2022 at 1:56 a.m.

HOT SPRINGS -- Across the thoroughbred game, wide-open races are standard. It is, therefore, perhaps appropriate the final championship event of Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort's 2021-22 season is full of potential winners.

Fourteen horses are entered to race today in the $200,000 1 1/16-mile Arkansas Breeders' Championship Stakes for Arkansas-bred horses 3 years old and up, scheduled for the next to last of 66 days of racing, the most in a season since the racetrack opened in 1904.

The Arkansas Breeders' Championship is the 10th of 12 races on Oaklawn's card. Post time is set for 6:17 p.m., with Robert Cline's 7-year-old Bandit Point the 7-2 morning-line favorite.

Cline trains Bandit Point and Twisted Dixie, another Arkansas Breeders' Championship entry.

"We let him stretch his legs just a little bit on Monday [in a 50.40 half-mile breeze]," Cline said. "In typical Bandit fashion, he was pretty lazy. The other horse came out of it good. At this point, I don't see why Bandit couldn't win.

"It looks like there's about four or five or six horses in there that, on their given day, could win the race. I'm definitely thinking that mine's one of them."

State-bred success is spread across a field, which includes winners of six Arkansas-bred stakes and two of the previous three Arkansas Breeder's Championship winners.

Bandit Point, a confirmed closer has $470,363 in career purse earnings He has yet to win in eight strakes starts overall. Nevertheless, Cline said he appreciates Bandit Point's consistency.

"He's pretty clutch, man," Cline said. "I can't think of a time that I've led him up, and he's left me scratching my head. I feel like he's about as consistent as any of them."

Bandit Point will follow his jockey Kelsi Harr and Cline, both native Arkansans, to Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn., shortly after Oaklawn's season is completed Sunday. Canterbury's 2022 season begins May 18.

Harr recently became the first female jockey at Oaklawn to surpass $1 million in earnings in a single season.

"Kelsi was just saying how awesome it would be to win a stakes on Bandit Point," Cline said.

There is a reasonable chance tears will flow.

"Oh, man, I don't even have the words to describe it," said Harr, a graduate of Hazen High. "It would be a cherry on top of a great season. Him being the horse that started everything for me, to come back and get that stakes win, it would just be awesome. If I get it done, I'll probably be a bag of tears out there, so y'all just don't mind me."

Man in the Can, a 5-year-old son of Can the Man trained by Ron Moquett, won the 2020 Arkansas Breeders' Championship. Man in the Can, with earnings of $353,987, is the Arkansas Breeders' Championship's second choice.

"I think that he's doing well," Moquett said. "I think that it's a tough race, very evenly matched, and I like our horse's chances a lot better this time than I did the last time."

Man in the Can won at 1 1/16 miles against seven other Arkansas-bred horses by 7 1/2 lengths on Jan. 11, but a troubled start left him last of seven on April 10 in his last start.

"We definitely need a better start than we got last time," Moquett said. "He kind of got roughed up out of the gate. It cost us any shot at running at all. I know he's training well, and he's doing well, so hopefully, it all works."

Alex Canchari is listed as Man in the Can's jockey.

Souixper Charger and Mrs. Beans are the 5-1 third choices.

Tempt Fate, a 5-year-old son of Hamazing Destiny and maternal grandson of 2011 Arkansas Derby winner Archarcharch, won last season's Arkansas Breeders' Championship but is 10-1 on the morning line to defend. Tempt Fate finished sixth of 10 in Oaklawn's Nodouble Breeders' Stakes on March 5 in his last start.

Moquett said championships of any sort are meaningful at Oaklawn.

"I think horsemen at Oaklawn have a better grasp of what horses mean to the city than most of the other places," he said. "It's definitely important in Arkansas."

Print Headline: Arkansas Breeders’ filled with potential

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