Updated on 09/17/2011 11:44PM

Lawyer Ron set to serve notice

Jeff Coady/Coady Photography
Lawyer Ron puts in a bullet workout Saturday at Oaklawn, impressing longtime clockers and rider John McKee.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Lawyer Ron has won his last five starts by 31 lengths, and by all accounts he seems to be improving as he heads into the most important race of his career on Saturday, the Grade 2, $1 million at Oaklawn Park.

The one to beat in the 1 1/8-mile race, Lawyer Ron has posted four straight two-turn stakes wins. In his final prep for the Arkansas Derby, he wowed a number of horsemen on Saturday by working five furlongs in a bullet 59 seconds and galloping out six furlongs in 1:10.91.

The powerful move signaled just how well Lawyer Ron has done since his three-length win in the Grade 3, $300,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 18.

"His last workout, I thought, was probably the best work he's ever had in his life," said Bob Holthus, who trains Lawyer Ron for the Estate of James T. Hines Jr.

"The way he worked the other morning, I tell you, he's just thriving," said John McKee, who was aboard for the drill. "He's just a monster right now."

Clockers caught Lawyer Ron galloping out seven furlongs in 1:23.46.

"That's the best work I've seen since Smarty Jones, prior to his Arkansas Derby," said Jim Hamilton, the state clocker at Oaklawn since 1992.

"He did it with ease, and just kept going," said Betty Fetters, a clocker for 14 years at Oaklawn.

Lawyer Ron has blossomed over the winter, according to Holthus.

"Since early December, he has really matured," he said. "He's probably put on at least 75 pounds. If you had a picture of him in December and one now, you wouldn't know it was the same horse. He's really filled out.

"And he's taken his training well. He's never missed a day. He is fortunate he's gotten this far without any injury or sickness or anything like that. You're always fortunate when you can come through the winter and not miss anything.

"He's been on top of his game better than four months."

Lawyer Ron made his first start on dirt on Dec. 9, and rolled to a 10 3/4-length win in an optional claiming route at the Fair Grounds meet at Louisiana Downs. One start later, he was an 8 1/2-length winner of the $100,000 Diamond Jo Mile at Evangeline Downs on Dec. 31.

That victory sent Lawyer Ron to post as one of the top choices in the Grade 3, $250,000 Risen Star at the Fair Grounds meet, and he did not disappoint with an 8 1/4-length win and a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 106. From there, he made his Oaklawn debut, leading throughout for a three-quarter-length win in the $250,000 Southwest on Feb. 25. One start later, Lawyer Ron came from off the pace in the Rebel.

"He's come in here and not only has he had some strong races, but he trains strong, and it doesn't seem that Bob's hit the bottom with him," said Lynn Whiting, an Oaklawn-based trainer who won the Kentucky Derby with Lil E. Tee in 1992.

"He's a nice-looking colt, and he seems to hold his flesh good. I've never seen him take a bad step. He's always a fluid, free-moving sort of horse. There's only one thing wrong. He's not over here in the Lady's Secret," Whiting said, referring to his barn at Oaklawn.

John Servis, who swept Oaklawn's series for 3-year-olds with Smarty Jones in 2004 before sending him out to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, had a client look into buying Lawyer Ron immediately after he raced against him in the optional claimer in December.

"I think he's an exceptional horse," Servis said. "I watched his work, and it looks like he's getting better. This horse is just . . . he's beefing it up. He really is."

Another fan of Lawyer Ron is Tim Ritchey, who has a division at Oaklawn. He won last year's Arkansas Derby with Afleet Alex, who then captured the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

"I watched him work and he looked fantastic," Ritchey said. "I mean, he's the real deal. As long as he stays healthy and they get him to relax like they did last time, I see him being a force definitely in the Arkansas Derby and probably through the whole Triple Crown."

Just like Smarty Jones and Afleet Alex.