03/30/2012 3:30PM

Oaklawn: The Mallard Man gears up for Arkansas Breeders repeat


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – The Mallard Man has had one objective since last April – a repeat win in the Arkansas Breeders’ at Oaklawn Park. He stormed home by three lengths in the 1 1/16-mile race a year ago, and on Sunday will take on the five-time stakes-winning filly All About Allie in defense of his title in the $60,000 race for 3-year-olds and up bred in Arkansas.

“This is the race we’ve had circled since last year,” said Al Cates, who trains The Mallard Man for the Arkansas-based partnership of Five Star Racing Stable.

The Mallard Man will be making his third start of the year. He was third in the $50,000 Nodouble Breeders’ won by Comedero in February, then returned to racing around two turns one start later for an optional $62,500 claiming race in March. The Mallard Man finished sixth behind open-company stakes winners Racing Bran and Kate’s Main Man.

“Everything is a go for Sunday, but we’ve had a long route to get there,” said Cates. “It seemed like everything in the world happened this year. We couldn’t get a race to go, and then he had a temperature the morning of one of his races and we had to scratch.

“Things haven’t gone as planned, but we’ll be putting a horse that’s at 100 percent out there Sunday, and hopefully we can get the job done.”

Jockey Calvin Borel rode The Mallard Man in last year’s Arkansas Breeders and has the mount again from post 9.

“Normally he’s the type of horse that has a really good late kick, so it’s best if we can have pace up front,” said Cates. “Calvin is the best there is getting back there and relaxing and making that one big run. I believe he’ll have that run Sunday. We just need pace.”

All About Allie, who is making a rare two-turn appearance, is facing males after her division of the Arkansas Breeders drew insufficient entries in late March.

“She’s not really a natural two-turn horse, her best is 6 1/2, seven furlongs, but she’s very competitive,” said David Whited, who trains All About Allie. “She’s really sharp right now, and I’d like to keep her with Arkansas-breds as much as I can.”

She will break from post 6 under Cliff Berry

“Allie kind of carries her own pace,” said Whited. “If they go too fast, she’ll wait on them. If they don’t go too fast, she’ll go to the front. She’s older now and kind of paces herself. She’s learned how to handle the racing game.”