01/14/2009 12:00AM

Old Fashioned on Southwest route


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Trainer Larry Jones plans to slow down in 2009, but not anytime in the near future. He has got too many promising 3-year-olds in the hopper, and the most accomplished of the lot, Old Fashioned, is being pointed for the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 16.

"We'd love to do the Pletcher-Zito deal, see how many horses we can have that could be [Kentucky] Derby contenders," Jones said. "We're very blessed. We have a lot of good horses right now."

Old Fashioned is a finalist for champion 2-year-old of 2008 following an undefeated season in which he won the Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct in his last start Nov. 29. The decision to target the Southwest, a one-mile race that serves as a stepping-stone to the Grade 2, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 11, was cemented last weekend after his stablemate Friesan Fire turned in a career performance in the Grade 3 Lecomte at Fair Grounds. Friesan Fire now will remain at Fair Grounds, leaving the Southwest open for Old Fashioned.

But there were other considerations, too. Jones said he believes Old Fashioned, who is out of a daughter of Meadowlake, might like the Oaklawn surface based on his experience with the stakes winners Wildcat Bettie B. and Maren's Meadow, who were both sired by Meadowlake.

"Both of those horses liked Oaklawn Park probably better than any track I've ever had them at," he said. "So, I wanted to bring him here, because if he takes after the Meadowlakes and likes this track better than the other spots, then we're going to love him here."

Old Fashioned is also a son of Unbridled's Song, who sired a pair of recent high-profile Oaklawn stakes winners in the late Eight Belles, who won last year's Grade 2 Fantasy, and Rockport Harbor, the winner of the Grade 3 Essex in 2006.

"I think he's getting a double dose of he might love Oaklawn," said Jones.

Old Fashioned, who races for Fox Hill Farms, is scheduled to ship in from Fair Grounds in a few weeks.

"We're going to keep him down there until the end of January, just in case you get bad weather here," Jones said. "You know, January is noted for losing a few days of training, and I don't think at New Orleans we will. But he'll be up here to where he'll have time to work over the track a couple of times before the Southwest."

Old Fashioned's 3-year-old peers in the Jones barn include It Happened Again, an impressive maiden winner at Philadelphia Park who is entered to run in the Triple Sec Stakes at Delta Downs on Friday night, and Dr. Large, a son of A.P. Indy who will make his stakes debut Monday in the $50,000 Smarty Jones for 3-year-olds at a mile at Oaklawn.

Claim-box immunity for layoff horses

In a new policy, horses who have not raced for 120 days or longer can be excluded from being claimed in their first Oaklawn start this meet, provided they race for the same claiming price or higher than their most recent out. The claiming preference must be declared at the time of entry. The rule was proposed to the Arkansas Racing Commission last year by Oaklawn management after discussions with the Arkansas Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.

"We saw it in California and a couple of other places, and it makes a lot of sense to us, so we decided to try it," said Eric Jackson, the general manager of Oaklawn. "I hope it helps a few owners stay in the game, so to speak. I have sympathy for the owner that lays his or her horse up in late summer, early fall, brings them back for Oaklawn, then loses [the horse] on opening day."

Oaklawn is a ferocious claiming track. Last year, there were 265 claims for $3.7 million in transactions between stables. And in 2006, an incredible 351 horses were claimed in 53 days of racing, for total receipts of $6,018,500.

In other new policies, Arkansas has adopted the steroid and toe-grab rules recommended by the Association of Racing Commission-ers International.

Account wagering deal in place

Oaklawn's races will be well distributed this meet. Earlier this month, the track, the Arkansas Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, and Tracknet - a simulcast-marketing partnership between Churchill Downs Inc. and Magna Entertainment Corp. - reached a one-year agreement on account wagering that will make Oaklawn's races available on the Churchill-owned Twinspires.com and Magna's Xpressbet, as well as Youbet, an outlet Oaklawn did not have in 2008, said Jackson. Oaklawn's races will be shown on HorseRacing TV. As of Wednesday there was no contract in place that would allow Television Games Network to take wagers on Oaklawn races.

Jackson said Oaklawn's simulcast signal should have a greater presence this meet in California.

Miss Macy Sue to A.P. Indy

Miss Macy Sue, a multiple stakes winner of $880,915, is scheduled to be bred to A.P. Indy, said her trainer, Kelly Von Hemel. The mare was retired last year after her third-place finish in the $163,000 Ontario Fashion Stakes at Woodbine on Nov. 2. She is now based in Kentucky for owner Dennis Albaugh.

Von Hemel said he believes Miss Macy Sue's best career performance came in the inaugural Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint in 2007, when she encountered a good deal of trouble but came rolling for third to winner Maryfield. Miss Macy Sue returned to action last season at Oaklawn, and romped by 11 lengths in a memorable allowance win in April. She won a total of six stakes during her career, including the Grade 3 Winning Colors at Churchill and the $400,000 Masters at Presque Isle Downs.

Fifty-cent trifectas . . . and corned beef

There will be 50-cent minimums on trifectas in a change to the wagering format this meet.

Also, 50 cents will go a long way in the concession line, too. Oaklawn is offering its corned-beef sandwiches for 50 cents each as a special promotion on Friday.

"Jimmy Johnston, who runs our food and beverage division, will cook all he can cook, which is six tons, for that one day," said Jackson.

Sodas will be 10 cents on Friday. In another fun promotion, Oaklawn will give away Curlin bobblehead horses on Monday.

* Stan Bowker is a new steward at Oaklawn, replacing Johnny Johnson, who could not return for health reasons. The assignment is something of a homecoming for Bowker, who worked in operations at Oaklawn in the mid-1990s, said Jackson.