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2,700 horses seek stall space at Oaklawn for 2011 meeting

November 12, 2010     E-mail this page to a friend!

Trainers of nearly 2,700 horses submitted stall applications in advance of the 2011 Oaklawn Park meet, leaving racing secretary Pat Pope the difficult task of assigning the 1,500 available stalls. Among the trainers seeking stalls were reigning two-time Eclipse Award winning trainer Steve Asmussen, leading trainer at Oaklawn in 2010, and Bret Calhoun, who recently won two Breeders’ Cup races. The Oaklawn Park barn area opens Monday, November 15.

In addition to Asmussen and Calhoun, the familiar trainers applying for stalls were William “Jinks” Fires, Steve Hobby, Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, Mac Robertson, Tim Ritchey, Bob Holthus, David Vance, Donnie K. Von Hemel, Don Von Hemel, Lynn Whiting, and Gary Hartlage. Another name familiar to racing fans is Larry Jones, who announced “un-retirement” on Wednesday.

The Jones barn has been in the hands of his wife, Cindy Jones, for the past year, and returns multiple stakes winners No Such Word and Payton D'Oro. Jones adds to the stable a strong group representing Fox Hill Farm, the owner which provided him with Old Fashioned, a resident 3-year-old star at Oaklawn in 2009 when he won the Southwest Stakes, the finished second in both the Rebel and Arkansas Derby. Among the horses Jones is expected to have in his barn is Havre de Grace, third-place finisher in last week’s Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic at Churchill Downs, and Winslow Homer, considered the top 3-year-old barn in the Fox Hill Stable this year.

The recruitment efforts of Pope’s team also lured stall applications from new names such as Tony Dutrow, Roger Brueggemann, Tevis McCauley and Jamie Ness, along with applications from some trainers like Tom Amoss and Ron Goodridge, who make excellent additions to the day-to-day racing programs.

“We enjoy great relationships with quality horsemen around the country and it is always a pleasure to welcome them back to Oaklawn each year,” Pope said. “We expect a few outfits to be here the first day we open the stable area, and others to come in as we get closer to the holiday season and the opening of the 2011 meet.”

The abundance of requests for stall space at Oaklawn can be attributed to the excellent racing surface, the substantial purse structure enhanced by revenue developed through the expanded Gaming and Instant Racing, and the fact that horsemen can conduct racing at a lower cost in Arkansas than other locations.

The track opens for training on Monday, November 22—53 days before the racing season kicks off on Friday, January 14. The meet runs through Arkansas Derby Day, Saturday, April 10.