03/29/2011 4:10PM

Oaklawn: Arienza, Summer Soiree following different paths to Kentucky Oaks


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Arienza and Summer Soiree are both Oaklawn-based candidates for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks, but they are following different paths to the May 6 race.

Arienza’s springboard is to come next month, in either the Grade 2, $300,000 Fantasy on April 10 or the $100,000 Instant Racing on April 16. Summer Soiree may not race again until the Kentucky Oaks.

Arienza put herself in position for those local stakes races last Sunday. Arienza, who is a daughter of Giant’s Causeway and 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri, improved her record to 2 for 2 with an allowance win at Oaklawn. She was scratched from a Saturday sprint stakes in favor of running a mile Sunday and wired the field to earn a Beyer Speed Figure of 90.

A few days later, trainer Dan Peitz was debating the next move for the filly who races for Robert and Lawana Low.

“I don’t know yet what we’re going to do,” he said. “We’ll get her back to the track, give her a few days here.

“I know the Lows would love to run in the Kentucky Oaks, but not at the expense of the horse and doing the wrong thing.”

So Peitz will spend the next week monitoring how Arienza bounces back from her effort Sunday. He also will be trying to determine the best approach to the Oaks, a race that will be limited to a gate of 14.

“A little bit of the problem – and we’ve already been discussing this – is without a dominant 3-year-old filly somewhere in the country, our fear is if we want to try to go to the Kentucky Oaks, we may need graded earnings to get in,” he said. “So, that’s coming into play.

“The three weeks to the Instant Racing, the timing would be a little better [than the Fantasy], but there’s no graded earnings there. I guess if we thought we could get away with a quick turnaround in two weeks [for the Fantasy], the positive would be we’d have a month before the Kentucky Oaks.”

Arienza won her maiden March 6. She was not an early nomination to the Oaks in February, but Peitz said the Lows have since made her eligible for the race. The late nomination period closes April 13.

Summer Soiree also was in action last weekend, shipping from Oaklawn to win the Grade 3 Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway on Saturday. She romped by 10 lengths and earned a career-high 91 Beyer. Summer Soiree came into the race off a Jan. 30 allowance win at Oaklawn, which was her first start since October. With a pattern of a good amount of time between starts, she is a candidate to train up to the Oaks.

“Chances are we’re going to probably go straight to the Kentucky Oaks,” trainer Larry Jones said. “She’d done so well with that time off before we ran her here. And then since that last race, we were in the Martha Washington and scratched and we were in the Honeybee and scratched, so it had been a lot of time before going up there, and she ran very well. I don’t think six weeks is going to be a major problem for her.”

Summer Soiree races for Wahoo Partners and Brereton Jones. She is by War Front, the same sire as top 3-year-old colts The Factor and Soldat.

Comedero to return in Nodouble

Comedero, the Arkansas-bred sprinter who won five stakes in 2010, is to make his first start of the year Saturday in the $50,000 Nodouble at Oaklawn, trainer Michael Stidham said. The six-furlong race is one of four weekend stakes restricted to horses bred in Arkansas.

Robby Albarado has the mount, Stidham said.

Comedero, who last raced in October, will be honored Saturday night as the 2010 Arkansas-bred horse of the year. His connections will be recognized during the Arkansas Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Horsemen’s Association banquet at the Austin Hotel in Hot Springs.

Otto Thorwarth, the retired jockey who played Ron Turcotte in the movie Secretariat, will be the guest speaker during the gala, said Deana Echols, executive secretary of the horsemen’s group. Thorwarth is a native of Arkansas.

There will be several other awards given out during the banquet. McDowell Farm, which bred Comedero, will be recognized as the state’s breeder of the year Saturday.

Dates set for Oaklawn’s 2012 meeting

Oaklawn was awarded a 56-date meet for 2012 during the Arkansas Racing Commission meeting Saturday. The meet’s structure is almost identical to this season. Oaklawn will open Jan. 13 and race through April 14.

The track will race on a Thursday-through-Sunday basis most weeks, with holiday Monday cards on Jan. 16 and Feb. 20. There also is racing on Wednesday, April 11, because the track will be closed April 8 in observance of Easter Sunday.