01/22/2016 3:30PM

Von Hemel has two prospects apiece for Southwest, Martha Washington

Dustin Orona Photography
My Master Plan (left), Donnie Von Hemel's unbeaten filly, will be pointed to the Martha Washington on Feb. 6.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – The promising 2-year-olds whom trainer Donnie Von Hemel unveiled last season in Kentucky and Oklahoma have blossomed into formidable 3-year-olds for the stakes program at Oaklawn Park.

Synchrony, Suddenbreakingnews, My Master Plan, and Ready to Confess are all on pace to see action in either the Grade 3, $500,000 Southwest on Feb. 15 or the $100,000 Martha Washington for fillies Feb. 6.

“We’ve been very fortunate through the fall and into the beginning of this year [that] our young horses have really run well for us,” said Von Hemel.


Synchrony was the barn’s first stakes starter of the meet last Monday and finished a fast-closing third in the $150,000 Smarty Jones, won by Discreetness. Synchrony was making his two-turn debut in the one-mile race that ended at the sixteenth pole.

“He was away a little slow and was probably further back than we would have thought going into the race,” Von Hemel said. “But I think with that in mind, the track was a little dry, and the horses had a little trouble getting over it. He kind of waded up through them and made a race of it at the end. I thought he finished good enough. So, I think there’s enough positives in the race for us to move forward and feel good about it.”

Von Hemel said the Southwest, which will be run at 1 1/16 miles, is a logical spot for Synchrony.

“It’s here at Oaklawn,” he said. “We don’t have to go anywhere, and he’ll hopefully turn the tables on them.”

Synchrony is a son of Tapit and the near-millionaire Brownie Points, who in 2006 won the Martha Washington. Synchrony races for his breeder, Pin Oak Stable.

“He’s a good-feeling colt,” Von Hemel said. “I think he enjoys his job. You can see him coming to the track, he’s bouncing around and happy to be here, and I think he probably has the ability to run a little further. I think those are things that probably are going to help him in the long run.”

Suddenbreakingnews, who in his last start was beaten a nose in the $250,000 Springboard Mile on Dec. 13 at Remington Park, also is probable for the Southwest. He won the $101,000 Clever Trevor in November at Remington.

“The results of the Smarty Jones, I think, flattered him,” Von Hemel said. “He was in a very close photo with Discreetness, the winner of the Smarty Jones, in his last race at Remington.”

Suddenbreakingnews is a son of Mineshaft who races for Samuel F. Henderson.

“He’s a horse that’s going to enjoy more distance,” Von Hemel said. “I kind of think of him as a Daddy Longlegs, a spider almost, because he just looks like he’s all legs. And it looks like more ground is going to be to his favor.”

My Master Plan is undefeated in four starts, among her wins the $100,000 Trapeze in her most recent out Dec. 13 at Remington.

“Last time was her first trip going two turns, and it was in the mud, and she kept her record intact,” Von Hemel said. “It was a photo at the end, and we were lucky enough to win it. I thought for her first two-turn race, it was good.”

Following that start, My Master Plan was shipped to Oaklawn. She passed on the first stakes for her division, the Dixie Belle at six furlongs Jan. 15.

“We skipped the sprint stakes and are trying to keep her two turns right now,” said Von Hemel.

He said the next stop is the one-mile Martha Washington.

My Master Plan is a daughter of Oratory who races for Joyce McGough.

Ready to Confess is already a winner at this meet, having accounted for a first-level allowance at a mile Jan. 15. It was her first start against winners, and she scored by a half-length over Dorodansa, the runner-up to My Master Plan in the Trapeze. Ready to Confess races for her breeder, Pin Oak Stable.

“We sprinted her a couple of times, and it just wasn’t her cup of tea,” Von Hemel said. “Once we stretched her out, she’s responded with a couple of wins. I thought she showed good courage here in her Oaklawn win when [Dorodansa] challenged her and she repelled her a couple of times.”

Von Hemel said the Martha Washington is next.

Ready to Confess is a daughter of More Than Ready and the 1998 Frizette winner, Confessional.

Von Hemel’s other 3-year-olds in-training at Oaklawn include Moving Away, an unraced full sister to the millionaire Alternation.

Former trainer Fitzgerald dies

Jim Fitzgerald, a longtime trainer who raced at tracks around the Midwest, including Oaklawn, died Monday in North Carolina, according to trainer Al Stall Jr. He was 84.

Fitzgerald’s survivors include a daughter, Pam Fitzgerald, a longtime assistant trainer to Stall.

Stall said Jim Fitzgerald was an excellent horseman whose stakes winners through the years included Prince Lightfoot.

Fitzgerald’s survivors also include Marilyn, his wife of 59 years, and a son, John. Fitzgerald was a veteran of the Korean War.