Conquest Twister tops Oaklawn Park’s highlight reel; The leggy Uncontested appears to have a bright future
By Warren Eves
The Canadian-bred Conquest Twister topped our highlight reel of Oaklawn Park’s first four days.
Uncontested lived up to top billing in the featured Smarty Jones, but two races prior Conquest Twister was impressive in his own right.
Our tedious process of video tape review left us in awe of Conquest Twister’s late surge to win as the 9-to-5 favorite in race six.
It was the newly turned four-year-old’s second test over the Oaklawn oval. Conquest Twister finished fourth beaten nearly 7 lengths exactly one year ago to Whitmore. He showed marked improvement in his second ever start over the Hot Springs oval.
Much like the gangly Uncontested, Conquest Twister is also a leggy physical specimen. He’s by Twirling Candy and was coming off a third place run at Woodbine on September 18.
Away cleanly, Conquest Twister had the lead briefly but was third moving to the half-mile marker. Second with a wide gap on the turn chasing the cat quick Never Give In, he responded to Jose Ortiz‘ left-handed urging. Conquest Twister surged late posting a 12.34 final fraction to be up in time. He galloped out with energy after the wire.
Trained by Mark Casse in Canada, Ron Moquett was tightening the girth on the 4-year-old for the first time.
We were also impressed with the quickness of Never Give In who weakened only in the final furious 30 yards to be third. Kim Puhl may not risk him for weight off by entering him for a $35,000 tag off this superb effort. He broke alert, and after getting brushed from the left, Never Give In exhibited great speed. He cleared before reaching the turn. Never Give In widened and had the look of a winner, only to be run down in the final 40 yards. Never Give In will be tough to handle when Puhl wheels him back.
Uncontested? Who knows what the future may hold for this son of Tiz Wonderful? Racing in front wraps he was away a bit awkward and outward to bump Romeo O Romeo. Unaffected, Uncontested showed the most lick. He cleared with ease. Uncontested set the pace over the firm surface left sloppy by showers while racing well out from the inner railing.
Channing Hill did not have to use his bat on Uncontested who was covering the final fraction in 12.84 seconds while clear at the wire by 5-1/4 lengths after a half-mile clocking of 46.21. We went back and looked at the tape of Uncontested’s maiden win. He was making his racing debut at Keeneland Oct., 19 from the rail. Away awkwardly and bumping a foe, Uncontested pulled Hill up the rail into a clear advantage. He was never asked for run, winning by six lengths.
Notes scribbled across my official program–Domain’s Rap won Oaklawn’s opening day feature but a $7,500 claimer Dynamic Impact caught our attention in the finale. Trainer Ron Moquett dropped Dynamic Impact in class and the 6-year-old son of Tiznow won large for the $7,500 claiming level. Better yet, two horses were claimed out of the six-furlong dash but Dynamic Impact returned to the Moquett shedrow with some lucrative options. We pay close attention to final fractions. Dynamic Impact posted a nice 12.11 FF despite racing in front wraps for the fourth straight race. He broke alert, was near the lead from the get-go and fourth outside one after an eighth of a mile. What really caught the eye was the manner which Dynamic Impact kicked past the leader in the final furlong. It was a very good performance for the claiming level so he’s worth following………..Corey Nakatani, once a force in SoCal, is a mere blip on the screen these days. Wow, how the scenery has changed in the last decade……………Sure liked the maiden win of Bar Scene at Santa Anita on Jan., 6. The four-year-old filly is a lanky daughter of Rocky Bar, who won the Harry Henson at Hollywood Park as a three-year-old. Bar Scene looks to have a future……………….Megan Divine is a voice you hear prior to each race at Santa Anita. She rambles on and on and brings next to nothing to the viewers that cannot be obtained in the past performances. We see this over and over at racetracks. Empty commentary which does little to aid the bettor. It’s blatantly obvious Ms. Divine spends no time watching replays of prior races, a task that sometimes explains how a horse may have performed. On Saturday, Jan., 7, for instance, Britney Eurton brought something up regarding a mud breeding line on TVG. The horse won. It was something the average fan might not pick up on, but could use if given notice. Ms. Megan needs to watch commentators like Ms. Eurton who digs for tidbits and insights on the backstretch and in the paddock. As of now, you might as well hit the mute button when Ms. Divine is on camera…………..Even for the grizzled veteran race observer, like yours truly, getting a good read from video review is not always easy. We mention this because we do pay close attention to horses galloping out after the wire. We watched the fourth at Oaklawn on opening day and saw two horses with energy after the wire. They were Cruachan and Stratocruiser. We wound up using the latter on our stable list. Stratocruiser wrestled with the assistant starter in the gate prior to the start. He broke slowly from the barrier to trail early. Seventh with a gap to the 1/2, he was roused right-handed off the top. He finished with energy after the finish to suggest he may improve against a similar field of $7,500 claimers going long. Stratocruiser sports a win and a second over the Oaklawn Park oval………….On video tape review of race 7 opening day at Oaklawn, a leggy second time starter named Zip Van Winkle caught the eye. The $300K son of City Zip broke slowly and bumped a foe to be away poorly. The three-year-old colt was adding blinkers and that might explain why he was pulling early on as he saved ground to get in the fray on the first turn. Zip Van Winkle, fourth in a muddy debut at Aqueduct, rode the rail on the far turn and was sixth off the top. That’s where he began a run and surged late to finish third, galloping out well after the finish. He’s trained by Ron Moquett and owned by Alex & JoAnn Lieblong………….It was great to see Jack Van Berg win the opener on Oaklawn Park’s first Saturday of 2017. Wild Dreams, claimed for $30,000 off Chris Hartman at Churchill Downs, was on or near the lead every step. The four-year-old gelding took charge when spanked right-handed once in the straight. He drew away late with a respectable 12.50 final fraction despite vying for the lead in a 22.09 opening quarter early on…………….When I used to do handicapping seminars with Bruce Finkelstein, we always talked about “herd finishes.” That’s when a cluster of horses finish in a group at the finish wire. We had one such race on day two at Oaklawn. The maiden special weight race saw Her Love for Pappy clear on the backstretch and wilt late. We made the notation that it was a “herd” finish and won’t consider any of the horses who ran in that race. We also made note that the final fraction was a poor 14.01 seconds. American Odyssey was the winner of that race…………..When Terra Promessa wired five rivals in the featured Pippin it was a tough read. She responded in the run to the wire with a respectable 6.30 final fraction. Terra Promessa obviously loves the layout because she is now four for four at Oaklawn for trainer Steve Asmussen……………Seven Forty Seven ran the best race of a four race career when testing the Oaklawn oval for the first time on day 2. Third early on he pulled the rider into the lead. Seven Forty Seven lost the lead off the top but battled on gamely to the wire and we liked his after the wire energy in the maiden special weight race……………Here’s a handicapping aid. When ever you see Condominium in a race, you are guaranteed the pace will be quick. When the four-wrapper ran on day two at Oaklawn, he broke like a shot, got over to the rail in the opening eighth, and set some swift fractions. The son of Tiznow is what as known as “cat quick” so you can bank on an honest pace when he’s in the fray………….Liked the debut run of Mark DeDomenico’s Appalachian Gem in the finale at Oaklawn on day two. The Jack Van Berg 3-year-old colt was outrun early after a clean break. Sixth with a gap into the turn, he responded to right-hand spanking and caught hold late to surge at the finish wire…………You never know what some horses will do. That was the case when Ramon Vazquez rode Calumet Farm’s Hence in a maiden special weight race on day three of Oaklawn Park’s race meet. After breaking in a scramble, Hence was fifth entering the first turn. The Street Boss colt, coming off a second at Churchill Downs, began a good looking run off the top. He gained the leader under the left-handed urging of Vazquez but suddenly he ducked in sharply in front of stablemate Horse Fly. Vazquez and Hence lost the lead in the process but they regrouped and under spanking they wound up winning the race where he was tons the best. Both colts are trained by Steve Asmussen.