04/09/2012 3:10PM

Oaklawn notes: Cozzetti joins Arkansas Derby picture

Tom Keyser
Cozzetti ran third in the March 10 Tampa Bay Derby.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Cozzetti, an improving 3-year-old for trainer Dale Romans, will be part of an Arkansas Derby field that had 11 potential starters as of Monday. He is scheduled to fly from Florida to Oaklawn Park on Wednesday, the same day entries will be taken for the 1 1/8-mile race that is to be run Saturday.

The Arkansas Derby, a Grade 1 worth $1 million, is the highlight of Oaklawn’s annual Racing Festival of the South. The series features at least one major stakes a day over the final week of the meet. It opens Wednesday with the Grade 2, $300,000 Fantasy. In all, nine stakes worth a cumulative $2.8 million will be run this week at Oaklawn.

Cozzetti was third last out in the Grade 2, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby. The race was run on March 10, and Romans said the timing of the Arkansas Derby works well with Cozzetti’s schedule. He also has been pleased with how the horse has been training, his latest move five furlongs in 1:00.80 on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

[ARKANSAS DERBY: Get PPs and wager on Saturday's Oaklawn card]

“I think he’s sitting on a breakthrough race,” said Romans.

Romans said Jose Lezcano, who was aboard for the Tampa Bay Derby, has the mount Saturday. Cozzetti won his maiden race in his dirt debut at Churchill Downs last November. The Tampa Bay Derby was his second start of the year, after the horse opened up his season with a fourth-place finish in the $100,000 Kitten’s Joy at 1 1/16 miles on turf at Gulfstream on Jan. 21.

The Arkansas Derby field will also include Optimizer, the runner-up in the Grade 2, $500,000 Rebel at Oaklawn last month who worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 on Monday. Oaklawn’s head clocker, Jim Hamilton, carried the horse through fractions of 12.60 for the opening eighth of a mile, 25 seconds for the first quarter, 37.80 for three furlongs, and galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.60. Hamilton had the horse’s final quarter of the work in 23.40 seconds. Lukas said Jon Court has the mount in the Arkansas Derby.

Secret Circle, the Rebel winner who worked five furlongs in 1:00.20 at his Santa Anita base Monday, is one of two starters expected from trainer Bob Baffert. Bodemeister, the runner-up in the Grade 2 San Felipe in his last start March 10, is the other. Rafael Bejarano has the mount on Secret Circle, while Mike Smith is to ride Bodemeister, according to Baffert. The horses were to fly in Tuesday from Southern California.

The Arkansas Derby is also expected to draw Atigun, Handsome Mike, Isn’t He Clever, Jake Mo, Najjaar, Sabercat, and Stat. The race will share a card with three other stakes including the Grade 2, $400,000 Oaklawn Handicap, which is expected to draw Ron the Greek and Hymn Book, Hymn Book arrived here Sunday.

Ywanna Twist is also being pointed for the Oaklawn Handicap. He will fly in Wednesday from Florida, according to his owner, Jim Riccio Sr. The horse is based in New York, but flew to Florida on Sunday to catch the flight to Arkansas. The other option was to van in from New York, said Riccio.

“Instead of putting him on a van for 20 some-odd hours, we’re better off this way,” he said.

Bejarano on Apriority in Count Fleet

The Grade 3, $250,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap is also on the card Saturday.

Jockey Rafael Bejarano will have the mount on Apriority in the Count Fleet, trainer David Fawkes said on Monday. The pair teamed together once before, in the $200,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita in January 2011. Apriority finished second by a head to eventual champion Amazombie.

“Bejarano’s been really hot there,” Fawkes said, citing the rider’s 3-for-4 record this meet at Oaklawn.

Bejarano has shipped in and won both divisions of the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest Stakes, as well as the Rebel. .

Apriority is to fly in Wednesday from Florida.

Izzy Rules heading to Count Fleet

The win-streaking mare Izzy Rules will make her next start in the Count Fleet, trainer Jeff Bonde said Monday. She will be going for her fifth consecutive win. Izzy Rules last raced on March 11, and won the Grade 3 Las Flores at Santa Anita with a career-high Beyer Figure of 100. Edwin Maldonado was aboard and has the mount on Saturday. Bonde said Izzy Rules was to fly in Tuesday from Southern California.

Tiz Miz Sue to Apple Blossom

Tiz Miz Sue, the winner of the Grade 3, $150,000 Azeri last out at Oaklawn, will make her next start in the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap on Friday, said her trainer, Steve Hobby. She had been entered in the $100,000 Redbud that runs here Thursday, but the defection of Havre de Grace from the Apple Blossom led to the decision to opt for Friday’s race instead, said Hobby. Joe Rocco Jr. has the mount on Tiz Miz Sue.

◗ There is a $10,188 pick six carryover for Wednesday.

– additional reporting by Dave Grening and Jay Privman