01/25/2012 3:59PM

Oaklawn Park: Lukas points new addition Palooza to Spring Fever Stakes

Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography
Absinthe Minded, winner of the Pippin, is being pointed to the Bayakoa at Oaklawn Park.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas won the Oaklawn meet’s first route stakes for fillies and mares last weekend with Absinthe Minded. Now, he has his sights set on the filly and mare sprint ranks with a newcomer to his barn, Palooza.

“She just got here,” Lukas said Wednesday.

Lukas said Palooza is being pointed to the $60,000 Spring Fever, a 5 1/2-furlong race for fillies and mares at Oaklawn on Feb. 19. She comes to Arkansas from New York, where she compiled a strong record at the Spring Fever distance while being trained by Tom Albertrani. Palooza made three starts at the trip and finished first in all of them, but was disqualified from a debut win for impeding a rival. Palooza rebounded with a maiden special weight score at 5 1/2 furlongs one start later at Belmont Park, then won again at the distance in a first-level allowance at Saratoga in August.

Overall, Palooza is 2 for 9 in her career with earnings of more than $90,000.

Palooza is a 4-year-old daughter of Hennessy and a half-sister to three stakes winners, including Grade 3 winner Texas Fever. She races for Andrew Rosen, who in the past has had horses with Lukas.

“He’s an old friend of mine,” said Lukas, who trained the multiple Grade 1-winning filly Classic Crown for Rosen.

Absinthe Minded eyes Bayakoa

Absinthe Minded is on deck to run the same weekend as Palooza. Lukas said she is being pointed to the $100,000 Bayakoa for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 18. Absinthe Minded won that race last year and will come into this year’s running off a neck win in the $75,000 Pippin. She set the pace in last Saturday’s race, lost the lead in the stretch, then came back to win. For the effort, Absinthe Minded earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 91.

“That was maybe as well as I’ve seen her run,” Lukas said. “Usually in those dog fights, she’s had troubles. But she’s run against the Horse of the Year in some of those races, where probably she’s had excuses, too. But I thought it was a really good race by her.”

Absinthe Minded, a 5-year-old Quiet American mare owned by Briland Farm, faced eventual Horse of the Year Havre de Grace twice last year at Oaklawn. She ran third to her in both the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap and the Grade 3 Azeri. Absinthe Minded has now won at least one race at Oaklawn three seasons in a row, starting with a maiden special weight score in February 2010.

Gleaming targets Spring Fever

Gleaming, who turned in an explosive performance to win the $50,000 American Beauty last Sunday at Oaklawn, is being pointed to the Spring Fever, trainer Bret Calhoun said. Gleaming closed from last to win the six-furlong race for fillies and mares with a career-high 91 Beyer.

“It was an incredible race,” Calhoun said.

Gleaming found herself much farther back than she ever races in the American Beauty. And her regular rider, Cliff Berry, was not able to be aboard after his flight from Houston, where he had won two stakes the night before for Calhoun, was unable to land in Little Rock, Ark., due to fog. Berry landed instead in Monroe, La., then had to drive to Hot Springs, Calhoun said. The circumstances made for some anxious moments leading up to and during the American Beauty. Lindey Wade rode Gleaming in the race.

“It was a tough situation, because the filly can be a little funny to ride,” Calhoun said. “And then she breaks and sucks back immediately. I’m thinking, ‘What’s going on here?’ And then she just runs the race of her life.

“It was an incredible performance. It sure didn’t go as planned. We pretty much planned to be in a stalking position. We had to be 20 lengths back out of the gate.”

Gleaming moved up around the turn and mounted a furious rally through the stretch, picking off all of her rivals to win by 1 3/4 lengths.

“Lindey did a great job,” Calhoun said.

◗ Calhoun will send out Cascabella, winner of three of her last four starts, in the featured eighth race Friday. The $35,000 optional claimer for fillies and mares carries second-level allowance conditions. It will be run at 1 1/16 miles.