03/29/2009 11:00PM

Leparoux has lined up two live mounts


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Jockey Julien Leparoux, the nation's fourth-leading rider in mount earnings with $3.3 million just three months into 2009, will be shooting for a rich double at Oaklawn Park on Saturday. He is scheduled to ride Acoma in the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom and It's a Bird in the Grade 2, $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap.

The pair of 1 1/16-mile stakes open the annual Racing Festival of the South, when at least one stakes a day is run over the final week of the meet, which ends April 11 with the Gradeo2, $1 million Arkansas Derby. In all, nine stakes worth $2.8 million are on tap, including the Grade 2, $250,000 Fantasy on Sunday led by Rachel Alexandra.

Leparoux swept into Oaklawn the day after riding Einstein to victory in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap last month and won the Grade 3, $150,000 Azeri with Acoma. She is co-highweighted with Proud Spell at 120 pounds for the Apple Blossom. Acoma vanned in from Fair Grounds on Monday, and arrived here shortly after 2 p.m.

"She had a nice work Sunday, a maintenance work, and we're happy with her," said David Carroll, who trains Acoma.

It's a Bird is scheduled to fly in from Miami on Thursday, said his trainer, Marty Wolfson. He was third in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap in his last start March 14, and before that won the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic under Leparoux at Gulfstream Park

"He worked yesterday, went very nice," Wolfson said of a half-mile move in 48.60 seconds Sunday at Calder.

It's a Bird is co-highweighted at 119 pounds with fellow probable Honest Man. Officials also expect Secret Getaway, Magnum, Prom Shoes, Catmantoo, and Runforthedoe. Possibles include Golden Yank, Victory Pete, and Star Guitar.

There was a short list of Apple Blossom probables as of Monday, with Proud Spell and Seventh Street, who is weighted at 115, the other definites. French Kiss (111), who breezed five furlongs in 1:02.80 here Monday, is possible, said her trainer, Gary Hartlage.

He said owner Anita Cauley is out of the country right now, so a decision won't be made until he talks to her on either Wednesday or Thursday. Hartlage said the other options for French Kiss would be the $100,000 Bayakoa at Oaklawn on April 8; the Grade 3, $100,000 Doubledogdare at Keeneland on April 17; or the Grade 3, $200,000 Sixty Sails Handicap at Hawthorne on April 18.

"We've got four races to choose from," said Hartlage.

Superior Storm (114) is under consideration for either the Apple Blossom or the Bayakoa. Devil House, who was third to Acoma in the Azeri, is being pointed for the Bayakoa, said her trainer, Lynn Whiting.

Papa Clem preps for Arkansas Derby

Southern California-based trainer Gary Stute was on hand Monday morning to watch Papa Clem work seven-eighths in preparation for the Arkansas Derby. In his last start, Papa Clem was second to leading Kentucky Derby candidate Friesan Fire in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby.

Papa Clem worked to the wire after the renovation break on a brisk, windy morning, covering the distance in 1:28.40 under mild encouragement from jockey Larry Sterling Jr. Clockers carried Papa Clem through fractions of 25.80, 38.60, 51.40, 1:04.40, 1:16.60, and out a mile in 1:40.80.

"I thought it was a pretty good work," said Stute. "The fact that he went his last quarter in 24, he finished good. That's the main part. Larry handled him perfectly."

Stute said Papa Clem could breeze back next Saturday. Rafael Bejarano has the mount in the Arkansas Derby.

Other early probables include Old Fashioned, Danger to Society, Win Willy, Poltergeist, Summer Bird, and Flat Out. Possibles include Flying Private, Wise Kid, and Join in the Dance. The race is to be broadcast on ESPN2.

Rachel Alexandra heads Fantasy

Rachel Alexandra, the blowout winner of the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks, could be facing just four others in the Fantasy. The 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies will be her final prep for the Kentucky Oaks. Calvin Borel has the mount in the Fantasy, which could also draw Afleet Deceit, Bon Jovi Girl, Just Jenda, and More of the Best.

Rachel Alexandra was to work an easy half-mile here Tuesday, said her trainer, Hal Wiggins.

* Trainer Larry Jones is the keynote speaker Saturday night at the Arkansas Thoroughbred Breeders' and Horsemen's Association's annual meeting and awards banquet. The dinner will be held at the Austin Hotel.

* Jockey Tim Doocy is five wins away from career victory 5,000.

* Jockey Perry Compton won five races here Sunday.

- additional reporting by David Grening and Jay Privman