01/23/2008 12:00AM

Razo off to fast start with eight wins


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - The decision jockey Eddie Razo Jr. made to winter at Oaklawn Park last year keeps paying dividends.

He first teamed with eventual Breeders' Cup mount Miss Macy Sue here last year. And to start this year's meet, Razo won eight races in four days to take early command in the standings. His wins included Monday's $50,000 Smarty Jones Stakes with Liberty Bull.

"I'm really happy I made the move," said Razo, 42, who formerly rode year-round in Chicago. "Last year was my first year. I never went anywhere for about maybe 10 years or more. But there were a lot of people who told me they would give me a good chance to ride at Oaklawn, so, we made the move at the right time, I believe."

Razo's supporters here include trainers Steve Hobby and Chris Richard, who both put him on winners opening weekend. Tony Reinstedler is another trainer who had success with Razo, using the rider on an impressive allowance winner, Ginger Bay, on Monday. Razo rode Liberty Bull for one of his longtime clients, trainer Tom Amoss.

"Eddie and I go back," said Amoss. "He's very intelligent both on and off a horse, and I like the way he handles himself both in a race as well as after a race. He's a guy that works with me, and I can learn from him. He can tell me some things when he gets off a horse."

Razo's fast start at Oaklawn included a triple on the opening-day card Friday, and another on his birthday, Monday. He had 23 mounts and a colony-best 35-percent win rate opening weekend. The second closest rider to him in the standings is Joe Johnson, who went 4 for 12.

Razo, a native of Mexico City, rode his 2,500th winner last May at Arlington Park. Among the best horses he has ridden are Black Tie Affair and Miss Macy Sue, who finished third, beaten two lengths, in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint in October. Razo won the $50,000 Carousel last year at Oaklawn on Miss Macy Sue, and also captured the $400,000 Masters with her in September at Presque Isle Downs.

"The older she gets, the better she's getting," Razo said of Miss Macy Sue. "So, hopefully, she'll give us more excitement and more good racing."

Amoss has two options for Southwest

Liberty Bull was one of two 3-year-olds that Amoss sent out to win stakes in their two-turn debuts last weekend. Prince Cortez ran at Delta Downs on Friday, and remained perfect in three starts with his win in the $55,000 Triple Sec.

Amoss said both horses would be nominated to the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest, a one-mile race to be run here on Feb. 18.

Liberty Bull, who won the Smarty Jones by a neck, shipped in for the stakes from Fair Grounds.

"He's back in New Orleans, and we'll evaluate him and probably make some decisions this weekend," said Amoss.

As for Prince Cortez, he earned a career-best Beyer Figure of 82 for his win in the seven-furlong Triple Sec.

"We're excited about him as well," Amoss said. "His schedule is basically the same. We'll evaluate him and try to make some decisions this weekend."

Prince Cortez is a son of Louisiana Derby winner Repent. Liberty Bull is by Holy Bull.

Sandburr ships in for feature

Sandburr, who last year won stakes in Louisiana and his native Texas, is set to make his Oaklawn debut in Friday's featured eighth race, a $62,500 optional claimer. The 1 1/16-mile race for older horses drew a difficult-to-separate field of 10.

Sandburr has recency on his rivals, having last raced on Jan. 12 at Fair Grounds, when he finished seventh in the $100,000 Louisiana Handicap. That race came one start after his 1 3/4-length win in the $100,000 Star of Texas for statebreds at Sam Houston Race Park in December.

Others in the race include Iosilver, an optional claiming winner last out at Hawthorne who will be ridden by Razo.

* Jonesboro, who breezed five furlongs in 1:01.60 on Wednesday, will likely make his next start in the $100,000 Essex here on Feb. 9, according to his trainer, Randy Morse.