03/26/2013 2:14PM

Oaklawn Park: Gary Stevens to ride Oxbow in Arkansas Derby

Coady Photography
Oxbow, on right with Mike Smith aboard, finishes second to stablemate Will Take Charge in the Rebel Stakes. Gary Stevens will ride Oxbow in his next start, the Arkansas Derby.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Jockey Gary Stevens, who has been aboard two of D. Wayne Lukas’s four Kentucky Derby winners, will be teaming with the Hall of Fame trainer in a major Kentucky Derby prep next month at Oaklawn Park. Lukas on Tuesday said that Stevens has the mount on Oxbow in the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 13.

Oxbow will start as a leading contender following his runner-up finish in the local prep, the Grade 2, $600,000 Rebel on March 16. He was beaten just a head after breaking from the 10-hole under Mike Smith.

“Mike was filling in for Gary because he had a previous commitment [in Southern California],” Lukas said Tuesday. Winning Colors was the first Kentucky Derby winner Lukas and Stevens had together, back in 1988. They teamed to win the classic again in 1995, with Thunder Gulch. Stevens, who like Lukas is a member of the Racing Hall of Fame, came out of retirement about three months ago to resume riding.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Lukas trains Oxbow for Calumet Farm. The horse was a maiden special weight winner last fall at Churchill Downs, and in January won the Grade 3, $200,000 Lecomte at Fair Grounds. Oxbow is by Awesome Again and out of the unraced mare Tizamazing, who is a full sister to two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow.

Will Take Charge, a stablemate of Oxbow who won the Rebel under regular rider Jon Court, remains possible for the Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 13, Lukas said. The other option for the horse, who leads all 3-year-olds in points, remains training up to the Kentucky Derby.

“I’m just going to get into April and we’ll decide,” Lukas said. “I’m leaning towards training him to the Derby, but he’s getting so sharp I don’t know if I can hold him.”

Titletown Five, another quality 3-year-old for Lukas, on Tuesday galloped a mile and three-quarters at Oaklawn in preparation for the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby on Saturday.

Lukas said Channel Isle, who was seventh, beaten 4 1/2 lengths, in the Grade 3, $550,000 Spiral at Turfway last Saturday, could make his next start in the Grade 3, $100,000 Transylvania at Keeneland. He would be moving back to turf for the April 5 race.

Broken Spell made the trip to Turfway with Channel Isle – both race for Calumet Farm – and rallied from 10th to finish fourth in the Grade 3 Bourbonette Oaks.

“She ran pretty well,” Lukas said. “She’ll probably try the Ashland.”

The Grade 1, $500,000 Ashland is April 6 at Keeneland. Last year, Broken Spell was second in the track’s Grade 1 Alcibiades.