12/17/2012 4:54PM

Harty has Endorsement pointed for Oaklawn Handicap

Tom Keyser
Endorsement won the Grade 3 Texas Mile at Lone Star Park in April.

Endorsement is part of a 15-horse division trainer Eoin Harty has settled in at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., and he said the multiple graded stakes winner is training toward a start in the $75,000 Fifth Season on the opening-day card Jan. 11. The race will be Endorsement’s first since finishing sixth to eventual Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned in the Grade 1 Whitney Invitational at Saratoga.

“The Oaklawn Handicap is a goal with him,” Harty said of meet plans for Endorsement, who in April won the Grade 3 Texas Mile at Lone Star Park.

Endorsement breezed five furlongs in a bullet 1:01.20 on Sunday at Oaklawn. He is owned by Casner Racing.

Harty, who also has horses based at Betfair Hollywood Park in Southern California, said the strong purse structure at Oaklawn is one of the reasons he has sent a division there for the first time in his career. He has, however, spent some time in Hot Springs, when he was an assistant to trainer Bob Baffert.

“I’ve run a lot horses down there, when I worked for Bob,” Harty said. “I’m very familiar with the track and the area. Of all my pit stops around the country, Oaklawn was always a favorite.”

Harty’s most notable runners during his training career have included Well Armed, with whom he won the $6 million Dubai World Cup in 2009, and Colonel John, winner of Santa Anita Derby and Travers in 2008.

Harty’s division at Oaklawn includes a full sister to Colonel John who will be 3 in January.

“She’s named Derby Eve . . . because she was born on Derby Eve,” Harty said.

Other young prospects for the barn include Liberty Girl, a maiden special weight winner at Churchill Downs and Seal Team Four, a son of Flatter who was a troubled fourth in his career debut last out at Aqueduct.

Alternation arrives at Oaklawn

Alternation, who won last year’s Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap, arrived in Hot Springs, Ark., on Sunday, according to Clifford Barry, general manager of the Pin Oak Stud operation of Alternation’s owner, Josephine Abercrombie. Alternation has spent the past 2 1/2 months on a “mini-vacation” at Pin Oak in Versailles, Ky.

“He arrived at Oaklawn in good order,” Barry said.

Alternation won five stakes in 2012, including the Oaklawn Handicap and the Grade 3 Pimlico Special. He won the Special by a length over third-place finisher Endorsement. Alternation is trained by Donnie Von Hemel.

◗ Grade 3 winner Flashy Lassie invades from Fair Grounds for Wednesday night’s ninth race at Delta Downs. The $30,000 optional claiming sprint is for fillies and mares. Gerard Melancon has the mount for trainer Bernie Flint.

◗ Nominations for the inaugural $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic at Sam Houston Race Park close Dec. 28. The 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares will be run Jan. 26. Pre-entries are Jan. 16.

◗ Remington Park has set Sept. 29 as the date of the 2013 Oklahoma Derby. The race was recently elevated to a Grade 3.