03/26/2010 11:00PM

Thompson gets the call on Dublin


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Jockey Terry Thompson has regained the mount on Dublin for the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby after guiding him through a stellar workout Saturday morning at Oaklawn. Thompson will replace Corey Nakatani, who was aboard Dublin earlier this month for his third-place finish in .

"Terry's got good chemistry with this horse," said D. Wayne Lukas, who trains Dublin and has had Thompson work him several times this season. "The horse relaxes nicely with Terry."

Thompson had ridden Dublin in his season debut in February, when Dublin finished second by three-quarters of a length in . On Saturday morning, Thompson worked Dublin six furlongs in a bullet 1:11.60.

Dublin worked first set after the renovation break, on a sunny, 50-degree morning. He broke off about three lengths behind a pair of workmates and moved between them at the three-eighths pole. Dublin was content to race along with those two to the quarter pole, then proceeded to leave his company under mild encouragement, pulling away by five lengths in a powerful move.

"He hadn't done much since the race other than a lot of good gallops, and we wanted to get a little more serious today," Lukas said. "I wanted to see if he'd relax behind horses down the backside, and he relaxed beautifully."

Lukas said Dublin will have one more work before the April 10 Arkansas Derby.

Jim Hamilton, Oaklawn's head clocker, followed Dublin through fractions of 12 seconds for his opening eighth of a mile, 23.40 for his first quarter, 35.60 for three furlongs, 47.80 for the half-mile, 59.60 for five furlongs, and 1:24.80 for seven furlongs.

Dublin, who won last year's Grade 1 Hopeful, races for Robert Baker and William Mack.

Nakatani will ride Pulsion, the sixth-place finisher in , in the April 10 Arkansas Derby, said his agent, Jay Fedor.

Dates set for Oaklawn 2011

The Arkansas Racing Commission on Saturday approved Oaklawn's request for a 56-day meet in 2011 from Jan. 14 to April 16. Oaklawn will race on a Thursday-through-Sunday basis most weeks, with special Monday cards Jan. 17 and Feb. 21.

"It's the most race days since 1996 because of the way the calendar falls out," said Eric Jackson, the general manager of Oaklawn.

Oaklawn's current 54-date meet runs through April 10.

Also, a court date in the case of It's a Bird, who was disqualified from his six-length win in last year's Grade 2, $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap, has been set for May 12 in Little Rock, Ark. It's a Bird's connections had appealed the commission's decision, which came after It's a Bird tested positive for naproxen, a Class 4 nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory that is sold for human use under the brand name Aleve.

Willis shining at Sam Houston

Trainer Mindy Willis has never had a better meet at Sam Houston. She had won with 19 of 108 starters through Friday to rank fourth in the standings. Willis, who has been a regular at Sam Houston since the track opened in 1994, was set to have three starters Monday.

"I'm just pinching myself that I've been so fortunate, because it goes in cycles this business," Willis said. "Everything's just been clicking."

Willis has 36 horses in training at Sam Houston. After the meet closes April 3, she will set up shop at Lone Star Park.