02/08/2012 4:42PM

Oaklawn: Orchard Park will play catch me if you can


HOT SPRINGS, Ark.– Trainer David Whited understands a horse’s varying degrees of speed firsthand as a retired jockey who won close to 4,000 races. So when he says Orchard House is a quick starter, he has a great frame of reference for such a statement.

Orchard House showed her speed in her debut last month, when she broke on top from the rail and went on to a more than seven-length win. She again figures to be prominent Friday, when she meets winners in a first-level allowance sprint for Arkansas-bred fillies and mares at Oaklawn Park.

“She’s super fast,” said Whited, who retired from riding in 1992. “I do my own works, and out of the gate, she’s a rocket. She is an absolute rocket. She leaves there in a hurry.”

Orchard House, who will break from post 3, made her debut Jan. 27 at Oaklawn. She earned a Beyer Figure of 63 for her win in the $25,000 maiden claiming sprint, and the number is the best last-race Beyer in the field Friday. Cliff Berry, who was aboard, has the call again for Whited, who also owns Orchard House.

The allowance drew 10 fillies and mares, and it figures to produce starters for the $50,000 Downthedustyroad at Oaklawn on Feb. 25. Whether or not Orchard House advances to such a race remains to be seen, said Whited. The filly did not start her career until she was 4 because of minor physical setbacks.

“I don’t want to get my expectations too high because she had some small minor things,” Whited said. “I don’t want to get my sights set too high for her. [But] she’s brilliantly fast. She’s cordial. She does everything absolutely perfect.

“I’d look for her to be in front for quite a ways [Friday.] I don’t know how far she’ll last, but she’s extremely fast.”

The race also drew Spadra, who won her maiden in the $50,000 Lady Razorback Futurity for Arkansas-bred 2-year-old fillies at Louisiana Downs in September. The score came in her debut, and it made her the early favorite for next month’s $50,000 Rainbow Miss for 3-year-old Arkansas-bred fillies at Oaklawn. Channing Hill has the mount Friday for trainer Lynn Whiting.