Attention On The Apple Blossom (February 18, 2010)

OVERWHELMING ATTENTION FOR APPLE BLOSSOM

The caller from Saudi Arabia wanted to know how big an aircraft is too big for Memorial Field in Hot Springs.

We handled Vice President Cheney’s 757 and loaded up a couple of 727s with about 370 people for a Promise Keepers march in Washington, airport manager George Downey responded.

Not big enough. The horse-crazy sheiks travel in a 747, something akin to Air Force One.

Downey told the caller that somebody who had to see Rachel Alexandra vs. Zenyatta on April 9 at Oaklawn Park could do what some Saudis did for a recent duck hunting trip to Stuttgart — fly their 747 to New York and rent a Gulfstream for the rest of the trip.

Using a secondary runway for parking the aircraft, Downey can accommodate 80 planes. Others will land 50 miles away in Little Rock and limo service to Hot Springs will be constant.

This $5 million race, pulled together by Oaklawn owner Charles J. Cella, will be the place to be.

Already a big weekend because of the Arkansas Derby on April 10, every major hotel in the city is booked. Linked through the city’s convention and visitors bureau and Oaklawn, a new Web site — appleblossominvitational.com — should be up and running today with references to accommodations in Arkadelphia, Mt. Ida, Benton, Bryant, and Little Rock. Soon, the site will be the source for visitors, even listing restaurants that accept reservations.

Shuttles will be an absolute necessity to handle the people and if the weather cooperates, Oaklawn’s attendance record of 72,484 for the 2006 Arkansas Derby will be in jeopardy.

Reserved seats are gone, although it is possible free bleacher seats will be available in the infield. Just the other day, bidding on e-bay reached $400 for a pair of reserved seat tickets for April 9. Face value is $4.50 each.

There is a joke making the rounds at Oaklawn that might not elicit yucks in the marketing department. It goes: “There are 35 state senators in Arkansas and we’ve already heard from all 52 of them.”

Three weeks prior to the Kentucky Derby, award-winning thoroughbred author and senior correspondent for The Blood-Horse, Steve Haskin is normally immersed in the 3-year-olds, watching prep races, and crafting his popular Derby Dozen column.

This year, he is making his first trip to Oaklawn for the Apple Blossom.

Assigned to write a piece about the race for Sports Illustrated, Mark Beach sent an e-mail with the request: “Would love to get the inside story from Charles Cella on how he managed to swing this.”

The simple answer is persistence and a willingness to dig deep for the sport he loves.

Best known for the TV series Designing Women, Arkansas-born producer-director Harry Thomasson contacted Oaklawn about doing a documentary on the race. At least two other people want to do something similar.

The crunch is going to get worse.

Zenyatta owner Jerry Moss, co-founder of A&M Records, has friends who are not prone to call seven weeks in advance. So does Rachel owner and wine entrepreneur Jess Jackson. And, there is always the possibility that former President Clinton will want to return to his boyhood home. As for as worldwide attention, his inauguration is the only event in Arkansas history that rivals this race.

by Harry King
from arkansasnews.com

JERRY BOSSERT’S DERBY RANKINGS (From The NY Post)

HORSE

TRAINER

JOCKEY

LAST RACE

NEXT RACE

COMMENT

ODDS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jackson Bend

N. Zito

J. Rose

Holy Bull 2- ¾

Fountain of Youth 2/20

Worked a bullet 4f in:47 Saturday

27-1

Buddy’s Saint

B. Levine

J. Lezcano

Remsen 1-4 ¾

Fountain of Youth 2/20

Worked 6f in 1:13.40 yesterday

10-1

Lookin At Lucky

B. Baffert

G. Gomez

H’wood Futurity 1 – ¾

San Felipe 3/13

Champ worked 4f in :48.20 yesterday

8-1

Super Saver

T. Pletcher

C. Borel

KY Jockey Club 1-5

Undecided

May start in Gotham at Aqueduct

20-1

Rule

T. Pletcher

J. Velazquez

Sam Davis 1-3

Undecided

May start next in FL Derby

24-1

Noble’s Promise

K. McPeek

R. Bejarano

H’wood Futurity 2- ¾

Rebel 3/13

Worked 4f in :46.50 on Saturday

36-1

Dublin

W. Lukas

T. Thompson

Iroquois 7-10 ¼

Southwest Stakes 2/15

Hopeful winner returns today.

20-1

Eskendereya

T. Pletcher

J. Velazquez

Allowance 1-1 ¾

Fountain of Youth 2/20

Turned in quick 5f move yesterday

22-1

Ron  the Greek

T. Amoss

J. Graham

LeComte Stakes 1-1 ½

Risen Star 2/20

Breezed 6f on Wednesday

31-1

Drosselmeyer

W. Mott

K. Desormeaux

Allowance 1-1 ¾

Undecided

Could start Saturday in Risen Star

20-1

Caracortado

M. Machowsky

P. Atkinson

Robert Lewis 1-1 ¾

San Felipe 3/13

Has won all five starts to begin career

Field

D’Funnybone

R. Dutrow

E. Prado

BC Juvenile 13-27 ½

Hutcheson 2/20

Returns to the races on Saturday

Field

Vale of York

S. Suroor

A. Ajtebi

BC Juvenile 1-hd

UAE Derby 3/27

May skip Triple Crown completely

26-1

Lentenor

M. Matz

J. Velazques

Maiden 1-3 ½

Allowance 2/17/10

Starts Wednesday at Gulfstream

Field

Conveyance

B. Baffert

G. Gomez

San Rafael 1-1 ¾

Southwest 2/15

Has won all three starts

33-1

23
Nov

Today’s Hot Plays