01/11/2013 3:24PM

Oaklawn Park notes: Lukas pointing Will Take Charge to Smarty Jones

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Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas will have horses in both the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn and the Lecomte at Fair Grounds next week.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark.– Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas will be active in the region’s two major stakes for 3-year-olds next weekend. He said he plans to ship Oxbow to Fair Grounds for the Grade 3, $200,000 Lecomte on Saturday, while Will Take Charge is to stay home at Oaklawn Park and run in the $150,000 Smarty Jones at on Monday, Jan. 21.

Oxbow was fourth in the Grade  1, $750,000 CashCall Futurity at Betfair Hollywood Park in his last start Dec.  15. Violence remained undefeated with his win in the race and is now a finalist for champion 2-year-old of 2012. Oxbow, a son of Awesome Again who races for Bluegrass Hall, won a maiden special weight at Churchill Downs in November.

“He’s doing very well,” said Lukas. “He’ll come back in the Lecomte. He’s going down there to run and will come back the next day.”

Will Take Charge, who is out of the multiple Grade 1-winning mare Take Charge Lady, was second in the $300,000 Springboard Mile at Remington Park in his last start Dec. 9. Earlier in the year, he won a maiden special weight at Keeneland. He is by Unbridled’s Song and races for Willis Horton.

“He ran an excellent race,” Lukas said of the Springboard. “He’s a big, big rangy horse getting better.”

Other 3-year-olds in the Lukas arsenal include Titletown Five, a nine-length maiden special weight winner at Churchill in his last start Oct. 28. For the effort, he earned a Beyer Figure of 98. Titletown Five is a son of Tiznow.

“He’ll be ready in March,” said Lukas.

The Smarty Jones was run on the first weekend of the Oaklawn meet last year, but because of the way the calendar falls this year it is being held the second weekend. The Smarty Jones is the first of four stakes for 3-year-olds in a series that culminates with the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 13.

Malibu High, winner of both of his starts, could run next in either the Lecomte or the Smarty Jones. Trainer Cecil Borel said the horse is scheduled to work Monday and from there decisions will be made on his next race. Malibu High’s wins have come at Fair Grounds.

Brown Almighty, a stakes winner who was ninth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, and Texas Bling, who upset the Springboard Mile at 128-1, are both expected for the Smarty Jones.

On Fire Baby back galloping

On Fire Baby, a multiple Grade 2 winner who finished third against males in last year’s Smarty Jones, is in Ocala, Fla., preparing for a return to the races, according to her trainer, Gary Hartlage. In her last starte on May 28 she was fourth in the Grade 1 Acorn at Belmont Park.

“She’s in training in Ocala,” Hartlage said. “She’s galloping. Whenever she gets ready she’ll come back [to the track]. I don’t know if she’ll make it for the Apple Blossom or not. When she’s ready, they’ll send her to me. She’ll determine when she’s coming back.”

The Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom is April 12 at Oaklawn.

Hartlage said On Fire Baby was given time off due to some inflammation in a stifle. Last year during the Oaklawn meet she won the Grade 3 Honeybee and went on to run fifth in the Kentucky Oaks. She races for her breeder, Anita Cauley.

On Fire Baby is a half-sister to High Heels, a past winner of the Fantasy at Oaklawn. High Heels has a 3-year-old filly, Grit and Grace, who is entered in Sunday’s sixth race. Grit and Grace is by Tapit and will be making her third start after finishing sixth to the promising Liberty Girl in a maiden special weight route at Churchill on Nov. 17.

“She got trapped for a half-mile last time, was stuck in between horses, trapped on the rail,” said Hartlage. “I think she’ll run real good Sunday.”

◗ Looseonthesecondary invades from Fair Grounds for the eighth race Sunday, a $62,500 optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds that carries first-level allowance conditions. It will be run over six furlongs. Looseonthesecondary won at the distance in his last start. Terry Thompson has the mount for trainer Michael Stidham.

◗ In the Arkansas market, a new replay show, “Oaklawn Today” has replaced the traditional “Oaklawn Report.” The report’s longtime host, Gary Weir, has retired. Rolly Hoyt, a member of the media relations team at Oaklawn, will host “Oaklawn Today” and retired Oaklawn announcer Terry Wallace will contribute. The show will air at 11 p.m. Central every race day on KARZ 42 in Little Rock. It will also be available at 9 p.m. on Resort Cable Channel 5 in Hot Springs.

◗ On local radio, Wallace and longtime host Tom Nichols are rolling out a new program covering racing personalities. The “Oaklawn Backstretch Show” can be heard every race day on KVRE 92.9 in Hot Springs. It will be at 5 p.m. Central on weekdays and 12 noon on Saturdays and Sundays.