03/22/2012 3:04PM

Oaklawn Park: Comedero gets audition in Hot Springs

Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography
Comedero wins the $50,000 Nodouble on Feb. 25 at Oaklawn Park.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Comedero is one of the best horses ever bred in Arkansas, and with the right kind of effort Saturday in the $75,000 Hot Springs at Oaklawn, he could get a shot at his home state’s biggest sprint race, the Grade 3, $250,000 Count Fleet Handicap.

The Hot Springs, at six furlongs, has drawn a field of 11. The group includes Riley Tucker, winner of the $50,000 King Cotton at Oaklawn in January; Silver Magnus, runner-up in last year’s Count Fleet; and Chief of Affairs, the defending champ in the Hot Springs.

Comedero, a Grade 3 winner of $669,814, has compiled a 4-for-4 record at Oaklawn through the years. He first won here in February 2010, when he defeated open-company rivals in the $60,000 Mountain Valley. Comedero’s subsequent local wins have come in Arkansas-bred stakes, his latest the $50,000 Nodouble on Feb. 25. Comedero was making his first start since October in the six-furlong race and led throughout to win in a sharp 1:10.80.

“Certainly, it’s going to be a step up in competition, but the horse has been doing very well since that race,” said Michael Stidham, who trains Comedero for Peter Redekop. “He’s training well at Fair Grounds, came out of it in good condition, and we’re hoping for a forward-progress type of effort.”

Stidham said with the right kind of race, Comedero would be considered for the Count Fleet, which is to be run at Oaklawn on April 14. But the first order of business, he said, is the Hot Springs. Comedero will break from the rail, under leading rider Cliff Berry.

“He always has natural speed,” Stidham said. “He’ll be forwardly placed and hopefully stay there.”

Riley Tucker is another Grade 3 winner in the Hot Springs, accomplished back in May 2010 in the Aristides at Churchill Downs. He enters Saturday’s race off a 1 1/4-length win in the King Cotton on Jan. 28. Riley Tucker earned a strong Beyer Speed Figure of 97, and the number ranks as the best last-race Beyer in the Hot Springs.

“Grandpa ran a great race,” said Steve Asmussen, who trains the 7-year-old Riley Tucker for Zayat Stables.

Riley Tucker, who has often stalked and pounced in his races, used different tactics in the King Cotton.

“The pace was a little soft, and he was right there,” Asmussen said.

Luis Quinonez has the mount on Riley Tucker, an earner of $625,566 who will break from post 2.