01/28/2011 4:56PM

Yankee Passion looking like Southwest material after Oaklawn win


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Yankee Passion is likely headed to the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest at Oaklawn Park following his flashy seasonal debut win at the track on Thursday. He won a six-furlong allowance in a rapid 1:10.88 in his first start since August, and for the effort he earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 79.

“I’m pretty sure we’re going to point him to the Southwest,” said Larry Jones, who trains Yankee Passion.

The Southwest is the first of two local preps for the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 16. It will be run at a mile, on Feb. 21. The race would be the first route start for Yankee Passion, a son of Yankee Gentleman and the Pleasant Colony mare Pleasant Pat.

“We definitely feel like he’s going to be a better two-turn horse,” Jones said. “We really have to ship him to keep him in contact with the field in these sprint races, where going long we can kind of just let him fall out of there and just sit on him and still hopefully have that same kind of kick coming out of the turn.”

Yankee Passion stalked the pace in fourth on Thursday, came between horses approaching the quarter pole, and darted clear in the stretch to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Before that race, Yankee Passion had made two starts at Delaware Park in August. He won his maiden there, and finished second in a first-level allowance.

Jones has one other candidate for the Southwest. Commander, who was to run in an allowance at Oaklawn on Saturday, will likely wheel back in the stakes, said Jones.

“Commander doesn’t put a lot into his training,” he said of the strapping colt. “He doesn’t ever overexert himself in the mornings, and he’s going to be a horse tha probably, we’re going to race a little more often than what most derby contenders appear to race.

“We’re going to race him into this. We’re not going to sit and candy-coat it. We’re going back to the old-fashioned. He reminds me of an old-fashioned horse. He’s a big-boned horse – just a little bit lazier – and we’re going to keep him running.”

Commander won his maiden in a two-turn race at Delaware Park in his career debut Sept. 1.

Taptam, Chief of Affairs arrive

Taptam and Chief of Affairs, both stakes winners for trainer Bret Calhoun, arrived at Oaklawn on Wednesday. The two shipped in from Sam Houston, where Taptam won the $100,000 Star of Texas over males on Jan. 22 and Chief of Affairs was second in the $50,000 Spirit of Texas on the same card. It was the first start since May for Chief of Affairs.

Calhoun said Taptam is being pointed for the $100,000 Bayakoa for fillies and mares at Oaklawn on Feb. 19. Chief of Affairs, meanwhile, is a candidate for both the $60,000 Hot Springs on March 20 and the Grade 3, $150,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap on April 14.

Taptam won last year’s Pippin at Oaklawn and Chief of Affairs was second by a neck in the Count Fleet.

Grant Jack to Southwest

Grant Jack, another stakes winner for Calhoun, is being pointed for the Southwest. The winner of the $250,000 Springboard Mile at Remington Park on Dec. 11, he was an uncharacteristic seventh in the $100,000 Smarty Jones that was run in the fog here Jan. 17.

“He came back good,” said Calhoun. “I’m just going to throw that race out and go to the next spot.”

◗ Miss Kinderhook, who won a first-level allowance at Fair Grounds in her last start Dec. 3, will likely make her next start in the $75,000 Martha Washington for 3-year-old fillies at Oaklawn on Feb. 12, according to her partnership group of Jac Mac Stable and C.E. Formby.

◗ Jazzin’ Okie, who won a $100,000 optional claiming allowance route at Remington on Dec. 11, is also a candidate for the Martha Washington, said her trainer, Donnie Von Hemel.