02/26/2013 4:02PM

Oaklawn Park: Rhetorical stands out in Thursday sprint; $23,825 pick-six carryover awaits


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Rhetorical’s second-place finish to Humble Smarty in an optional claimer in January is looking golden as he heads into Thursday’s eighth race at Oaklawn. Humble Smarty returned last weekend to win the $60,000 Nodouble Breeders’ at Oaklawn and in the process the 9-year-old earned his second straight Beyer Speed Figure of 94.

As for Rhetorical, he will lead a $32,000 optional claiming sprint Thursday that has second-level allowance conditions. The six-furlong race is the final leg of a pick-six sequence that starts in the third race and has a carryover of $23,825.

Also during the sequence, jockey Calvin Borel and trainer Steve Hobby will be going for milestones. Borel will be chasing the 5,000th win of his career in the seventh race, when he rides D’Wildcard. Hobby, meanwhile, will be looking for the 1,000th Thoroughbred training win of his career in the fourth race, with Got a Stash.

Rhetorical hooked Humble Smarty in a $32,000 optional claiming sprint at Oaklawn on Jan. 20. He finished second to the front-running winner, beaten a length while earning a Beyer of 91. Rhetorical was the favorite in the race off an eight-length allowance win at Sunland Park for which he had earned a career-high Beyer of 95.

“We chased a tiger around there last time, a real big one,” said Chris Hartman, who trains Rhetorical. “His last race was a little bit of a letdown for me. I really thought he’d win that race, but that horse, the old grandpa, he decided to come back to life.”

Humble Smarty won the six-furlong optional claimer in a sharp 1:10.60. It was his first win in his last 12 starts. In his next start, Humble Smarty romped by 4 1/4 lengths in the Nodouble.

Rhetorical on Thursday will break from post 1, under jockey Terry Thompson.

“He’s tactical,” said Hartman, who trains Rhetorical for Craig Drago. “I’m not real concerned about the rail. Hopefully, it doesn’t become a factor.”

The ninth race is another $32,000 optional claimer for 4-year-olds and up, but going a mile. Master Rick gets away from Donoharm with the return to the overnight ranks. He has faced Donoharm in two stakes this meet, finishing a close fourth to him in both the Fifth Season and Essex. Ricardo Santana Jr. has the mount on Master Rick for Richard L. Davis and trainer Steve Asmussen.