HOT SPRINGS -- Other than losing the defending champion and original program favorite, the $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes today at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort looks formful.
Coming a week after the Jan. 20 card was lost during a brutal week of winter weather, the one-mile race for older horses was moved back and post positions were redrawn. Horses making both cuts include 2020 Grade III Southwest winner Silver Prospector for trainer Steve Asmussen and meet winner Nautical Star for Chris Hartman.
Peter Miller, however, explored other options with Ginobili, who ran last of five Jan. 19 at Santa Anita in only his second start since dusting his Fifth Season rivals last year under Ricardo Santana Jr.
Durante, the new shooter, like Ginobili (bearing the name of a former San Antonio Spurs player), has a celebrity connection. The comedian with a bulbous nose helped found Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Southern California with Bing Crosby.
Durante the racehorse has raced in California but lately has been seen in New York, his past five starts coming at Aqueduct. Trainer and co-owner David Jacobson once dominated the Gotham circuit before being out of the sport almost four years His father, the late Buddy Jacobson, was a leading trainer nationally before a career reversal.
Durante won his first three starts for Jacobson, one each at Saratoga and Penn National before scoring in an optional claimer and the Grade III Bold Ruler Handicap. Second in the Grade III Fall Highweight Handicap (carrying 134 pounds) and third last out in the Gravesend on Dec. 30, the 5-year-old owns a recent edge over some in the Fifth Season. His past six published works were over the training track at Long Island's Belmont Park, currently under renovation.
Ramon Vazquez rides for Jacobson, two-time winner in Hot Springs this winter, from post six under 122 pounds.
Silver Prospector, though a multiple graded winner, is not the most consistent performer in Asmussen's barn but has six wins and 13 board finishes from 30 starts with almost $1.4 million in career earnings at age 7. The Declaration of War horse can be forgiven his Dec. 15 second, when it might have taken Curlin to beat Frosted Departure at the Fifth Season distance. Keith Asmussen rides for his father from post two.
Oklahoma-bred Nautical Star has won two of three local starts, scoring by 5 1/2 lengths Dec. 16 going six furlongs in the mud. A February 2022 Oaklawn winner for Nathaniel Quinonez, the 4-year-old Dixie Chatter colt was overmatched when beaten 27 lengths by champion Forte in the Grade I Florida Derby in April. Nautical Star posted a bullet workout Jan. 12 at Oaklawn, two days before the track shut down. Chris Landeros keeps the mount.
Francisco Arrieta rides Logical Myth, a last-out Sam Houston winner Jan. 5 after a second to Shawn Davis-trained stablemate U.S. Army in a Remington Park stake.
Seize the Night also benefits from recent racing, running fourth to War Campaign in Oaklawn's $200,000 Tinsel on Dec. 16 at nine furlongs. This marks the 5-year-old's first start for trainer Eddie Milligan, the horse winning twice at Oaklawn for trainer D. Wayne Lukas and owner Willis Horton Racing LLC. Cristian Torres, who is leading the local jockey standings again after posting 100 winners last season for his first Oaklawn crown, inherits the mount.
The ninth of 10 races on a card starting at 12:30 p.m., the Fifth Season's projected post time is 4:55.