While the Southwest (G3) anchored the Presidents’ Day festivities at Oaklawn Park, two supporting graded stakes added depth to the card. A gutsy Coal Front overcame post 14 to capture his two-turn debut in the Razorback H. (G3), and She’s a Julie used her early speed in the Bayakoa (G3) to highlight a four-win day for Steve Asmussen and Ricardo Santana Jr.
The 6-5 favorite Coal Front, shipping in from Florida for Todd Pletcher, sprinted out of the far outside post. But California invader All Out Blitz had the same idea from post 10, grabbed the lead, and reeled off fractions of :22.78, :46.59, and 1:11.84 on the fast track.
Coal Front pressed initially, then Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez let his pace foe go, and re-engaged on the far turn. Asserting into the stretch, Coal Front opened up by a length. Copper Bullet gained late, but Coal Front refused to yield and kept his neck in front in 1:43.45 for 1 1/16 miles.
Rated R Superstar closed from last to snare third at 79-1, and might have threatened the exacta if he’d had enough running room in deep stretch. Late-running Sonneteer also had trouble, having to check at the eighth-pole en route to his fourth-place finish. All Out Blitz wound up fifth. Souper Tapit, who stumbled at the start, made a move to loom in upper stretch but stalled in sixth of 14.
Campaigned by Robert LaPenta and Head of Plains Partners, Coal Front has bankrolled $777,280 from his 8-6-0-0 line. The ridgling by Stay Thirsty won his first three career starts as a sophomore of 2017, capped by the Amsterdam (G2). After a fifth in the H. Allen Jerkens (formerly the King’s Bishop) (G1), Coal Front rebounded in the Gallant Bob (G3). He wasn’t seen again for more than 13 months until the November 2 Bold Ruler (G3), when tiring to fifth. Coal Front obviously needed the race, and he moved forward for a stylish victory in the December 22 Mr. Prospector (G3) last out.
Coal Front, a $575,000 OBS April acquisition, was bred by Michael Edward Connelly in Kentucky. His dam, the unraced Mineshaft mare Miner’s Secret, is also responsible for Grade 2-placed stakes scorer Conquest Titan.
In the Bayakoa, 7-5 favorite She’s a Julie went straight to the front through an opening quarter in :23.78, then had an overeager Remedy head her at the half in :48.01. But She’s a Julie regained the upper hand at the six-furlong split in 1:12.30 and kicked 2 3/4 lengths clear. Promise of Spring got up for second, the stalking Moonlit Garden held third, and Rose of Malibu nabbed the fading Remedy to round out the superfecta.
She’s a Julie covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.55 and advanced her line to 12-5-2-1, $580,530. The daughter of Elusive Quality burst onto the scene last summer when romping in the Iowa Oaks (G3). Following a second in the Alabama (G1), she added the Remington Park Oaks (G3) and concluded the season with a fourth as the 1-5 favorite in the November 21 Zia Park Oaks.
She’s a Julie races for Bradley Thoroughbreds, Whispering Oaks Farm, Team Hanley, Madaket Stables, Tim Cambron, and Anna Cambron. Bred by Godolphin and sold for $160,000 as a Keeneland September yearling, the bay is out of the winning Dubai Millennium mare Kydd Gloves from the immediate family of Bodemeister.
The undercard included a few notable sophomore races as well. Pletcher unveiled Robert and Lawana Low’s Intrepid Heart in the 3RD race, and the Triple Crown nominee stamped himself as one to follow with a 7 3/4-length demolition job.
A $750,000 OBS April purchase, Intrepid Heart is a Tapit half-brother to 2014 Belmont (G1) runner-up Commissioner and 2013 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) near-misser Laugh Track, both graded winners. Another half-sibling, Mythical Bride, is the dam of last year’s Wood Memorial (G2) hero Vino Rosso and current classic hopeful So Alive, who recently placed third in the Sam F. Davis (G3).
Intrepid Heart, a May 10 foal, could live up to those bloodlines after an auspicious debut. Arguing the pace on the inside for Velazquez, the gray pulled away to finish the mile in 1:38.08.
Asmussen and Santana continued their successful day in the 5TH, where Laughing Fox stepped up from a maiden win to take an allowance, and the 6TH, where Comedian prevailed in his third try. Both are Triple Crown nominees.
Alex and JoAnn Lieblong’s Laughing Fox clocked 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.08, barely off the 1:44.05 later recorded by Super Steed in the Southwest. By Union Rags and out of the multiple stakes-winning Stormy Atlantic mare Saskawea, he first sold for $120,000 as a Keeneland September yearling and commanded $375,000 at OBS March.
Comedian was twice second at Fair Grounds, to Cornacchia in a photo December 22 and to Frank’sgunisloaded January 19. Off at 9-2 here, the Bloom Racing Stable colorbearer swept from a stalking spot to score by 3 1/2 lengths. He negotiated the mile just about a tick slower than Intrepid Heart in 1:38.31.
The Into Mischief colt, the first registered foal from the Arch mare Voussoir, was purchased for $75,000 at Keeneland September. Bloom offered him at Fasig-Tipton Midlantic last May, but he was retained after RNA’ing for $220,000.