02/03/2011 1:56PM

Allowance win puts J W Blue in Arkansas Derby hunt

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – J W Blue has emerged as the newest candidate for the 3-year-old stakes program at Oaklawn Park after closing from last to win a 1 1/16-mile allowance on Saturday.

“We sent J W Blue to Oaklawn in hope that he was a 3-year-old of quality enough to make it on the Derby trail,” said Tony Dutrow, who trains the horse. “So, we’re hoping he’s on his way.”

Dutrow said J W Blue is now targeting one of two local preps for the Arkansas Derby, either the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest on Feb. 21, or the Grade 2, $300,000 Rebel on March 19.

“The Southwest comes back a little quick. So I don’t know yet,” he said Monday. “But he’s at Oaklawn, and he’ll run in either the Southwest or the Rebel.”

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J W Blue is a son of Sky Mesa who is now 2 for 4, with his other win coming in a maiden special weight at a mile at Delaware Park on Oct. 20. He is from the stakes-winning mare Kentucky Storm, who is a half-sister to past Wood Memorial winner Adonis.
J W Blue earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 72 for the first-level allowance win at Oaklawn.

Tech Fall, another up-and-coming 3-year-old for Dutrow, could see action here in March. A son of Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone, he has raced twice.

“He broke his maiden first time out going long at Delaware Park and ran back in an allowance at Philadelphia and finished second,” Dutrow said. “He’s run fast enough that we sent him to Oaklawn as well.

“I plan on racing him in March at Oaklawn. I lost a little time with him in December. I think he’s a pretty nice colt. I think he’s a promising horse.”

Tech Fall earned a career-high Beyer Figure of 79 for his runner-up finish in the first-level allowance route at Parx. He is from the Quiet American mare Star Whisper, who is a half-sister to New Orleans Handicap winner Allen’s Oop.

Dutrow has a division of horses at Oaklawn for the first time, and has gone 3 for 7 with his initial starters in Hot Springs.

Rose returns to East Coast

Jockey Jeremy Rose, who has been a constant aboard Dutrow’s horses for the first three weeks of the meet, has moved his tack back to the East Coast but will still see some action at Oaklawn.

“He’ll be flying back to ride some horses for Tony Dutrow,” said Mark Mace, the agent for Rose.

Rose, who was 2 for 9 at the meet, had his last regular mount here Sunday and will now be riding in Maryland and in Philadelphia until Delaware Park reopens its meet, said Mace.

“He’ll do like he had usually done,” Mace said. “He just wants to be home.”

Rose had not ridden at Oaklawn on a regular basis since he won the title here in 2005.

Dutrow said Joe Rocco Jr., who was aboard J W Blue, will now be more active for his barn at Oaklawn.

“He will be riding some of the horses when Jeremy is not around to ride,” Dutrow said. “Both have ridden for me a great deal.”

Mace, who had also been the agent for Rocco, said Ronny Salmen is now handling the rider’s book at Oaklawn.

Milligan revs up title bid

Allen Milligan, the Oaklawn training champ in 2009, began his bid for a second title in earnest on Sunday, when he won four races on the program. The big afternoon moved him up to second in the standings, one win behind leader Randy Morse.

“It was a very welcome surprise,” Milligan said of the four-bagger. “I started off the meet with bad luck – a nose loss here or there – and I’d lost a little confidence. I thought I had some chances the other day, but never dreamed I’d win four races.”

Milligan had five starters in four races, with two horses running in the nightcap. His first winner came in the third, with Faudree ($10). Milligan proceeded to win the fourth race with Unbridldperfection ($11.40), the sixth with Thunder Hookey ($17), and the ninth with Elegantly Quiet ($22.40).

Milligan said the four wins on a program was a career first. He had once won three races on a card at Oaklawn. The local record is five on program, set in 2007 by last year’s Oaklawn training champ, Steve Asmussen.

Milligan has 80 horses to run at the current meet, with half stabled at Oaklawn and the others based at a training center near the track. He said when he won the title in 2009, he had 70 head.

“I’ve got a very good quality of horses compared to then,” he said. “And I’ve got some good owners behind me.”

Among the best horses in Milligan’s division at Oaklawn are Lady Giacamo, a 3-year-old filly shopping for a sprint stakes, and Bella Diamante, a recent stakes winner at Delta Downs. Milligan on Thursday has horses in the first, second, fourth, and seventh races at Oaklawn.
* Jockey Abel Castellano will not be riding Thursday because he is serving a one-day suspension for a riding infraction. His suspension had been reduced from three days after a hearing before the Arkansas Racing Commission on Saturday.

* Grade 2 winner Havre de Grace breezed three furlongs in 36.80 seconds Monday at Oaklawn in her first work since finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic on Nov. 5.