03/26/2008 12:00AM

Aiming high with Tres Borrachos


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Tres Borrachos, who in his dirt debut was third in the El Camino Real Derby at Bay Meadows on March 8, is being pointed for the Gradeo2, $1 million Arkansas Derby, said his trainer, Beau Greely.

"It's the plan to run, as long as I hear we're going to get in," said Greely.

The Arkansas Derby field will be limited to 14 horses when it is run April 12, with the starting preference given to horses with the highest earnings, excluding restricted or maiden earnings. The race is still taking shape, but a full field of 14 is expected, said Craig Lytel, the stakes coordinator at Oaklawn.

Tres Borrachos began his 3-year-old season with a fourth-place finish in the $150,000 California Derby at Golden Gate on Jan. 27. He then made his first start on a track other than a synthetic one in the El Camino Real and earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 82.

Greely, who in 2004 sent out Borrego when he finished second to Smarty Jones in the Arkansas Derby, said there were several reasons to target this year's running of the race with Tres Borrachos.

"I like the track there at Oaklawn, and I just ran him at Bay Meadows on dirt and he ran very well," said Greely. "This horse likes dirt."

Greely said Tyler Baze would have the mount in the Arkansas Derby. Tres Borrachos is scheduled to fly in on April 7. The gelding is by Ecton Park and his dam is Pete's Fancy, a stakes winner of $405,586.

Expansion to begin in May

Oaklawn's plans to expand the first floor of its grandstand by about 60,000 square feet in order to accommodate 500 additional gaming terminals have been approved by the city of Hot Springs. Construction on the project, which is expected to be complete in November 2009, will begin in May, said Eric Jackson, general manager of Oaklawn.

The total cost of the project is still being determined, but is expected to exceed $20 million, said Jackson.

The project calls for the first floor of the south end of the grandstand to be extended 150 feet south toward Oaklawn's main parking lot, Jackson said, and 75 feet toward Central Avenue.

"Oaklawn will look a lot different from Central Avenue, at least that end of us will," said Jackson. "I wouldn't say it's a massive project, but it's a very complicated project."

Jackson said construction will have to work around the live racing season of 2009. Plans are to build from May to November of this year, break for the 2009 season, then resume construction from May to November of 2009.

"It's a 12-month project that's going to take us 20 months to complete," said Jackson.

Jackson said racing office operations will move to the far south end of the new expansion area for the meet in 2010. The decor of the new expansion is still to be determined, he said.

"We're cognizant of the fact that we are in a national park," Jackson said. "Oaklawn Park, I think, has always been a little bit more subdued - the tradition of racing, the tradition of the sport - and I think that will filter into the final design and color schemes and all that."

Oaklawn has 500 gaming terminals in place on the first floor of its grandstand, with some of those machines Instant Racing games. The machines currently contribute about $4 million a year to purses, said Jackson.

Jackson to speak at awards dinner

Jackson will be the guest speaker at the Arkansas Thoroughbred Breeders' and Horsemen's Association's annual awards banquet and meeting Saturday night. The banquet will held at the Austin Hotel and Convention Center in Hot Springs.

Throughout the evening, the breeders and horsemen will honor the state's leading breeders, stallions, and horses. There will also be a membership meeting.