Sarah Harper wins at Oaklawn on Jan. 9, 2023
An evenly matched field of six is entered in the $150,000 American Beauty Stakes for older female sprinters Saturday at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.
Probable post time for the American Beauty, which goes as the sixth of 10 races, is 2:55 p.m. (Central). Racing begins at 12:30 p.m.
The projected American Beauty field from the rail out:
- Connie K, Jon Court to ride, 122 pounds, 12-1 on the morning line;
- Hot and Sultry, David Cabrera, 122, 9-5;
- I’m the Boss of Me, Francisco Arrieta, 122, 8-1;
- Lisette, Mickaelle Michel, 115, 20-1;
- Sarah Harper, Rafael Bejarano, 122, 7-5; and
- Perfect Happiness, Nik Juarez, 122, 7-2.
Program favorite Sarah Harper is seeking her first career stakes victory. Trained by Ron Moquett of Hot Springs, Sarah Harper was an entry-level allowance winner sprinting at the 2021-2022 Oaklawn meeting and exits a runner-up finish behind Pretty Birdie in the $150,000 Poinsettia Stakes at 5 ½ furlongs Dec. 17 at Oaklawn. She finished seventh in last year’s American Beauty, but was beaten just 2 ¼ lengths after leading much of the race.
“We know that these are pretty closely matched horses, a couple of these in there,” Moquett said. “I think it depends on who gets the best trip. I think we’re definitely one that you should consider and also show a lot of respect to (Alex) Lieblong’s horse (Hot and Sultry) and also the (Chris) Hartman horse (Perfect Happiness).”
After winning the Poinsettia with Pretty Birdie, high-percentage trainer Norm Casse is scheduled send out Hot and Sultry for her stakes debut. The speedy 4-year-old daughter of Speightster races for prominent Arkansas owners Alex and JoAnn Lieblong.
A $475,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase in 2020, Hot and Sultry was a flashy maiden special weight sprint winner last season at Oaklawn and returned to finish second behind Grade 3 winner Yuugiri in a third-level allowance sprint Dec. 30 at Oaklawn. It marked Hot and Sultry’s first start since a one-mile entry-level allowance victory July 1 at Churchill Downs and her first for Casse, who began training for the Lieblongs last year. Hot and Sultry had previously been with Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.
“We’re very excited about her,” said Casse, who is 3 for 8 at the 2022-2023 Oaklawn meeting. “Not really sure exactly what she’s best at, if she’s a sprinter or a router. I think that the jury is still out on that. But this race came up and it just feels like a really good chance to hit the board in a stake with her, possibly win. I don’t know what we’ll do forward, after this race, but this was a really good opportunity.”
Two-time local winner Perfect Happiness exits a third-place finish in the $100,000 Pan Zareta Stakes at 5 ½ furlongs Dec. 3 at Fair Grounds for Hartman, Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 2015. Hartman claimed Perfect Happiness for $62,500 last March at Oaklawn. She had finished a troubled ninth in her previous start, the 2022 American Beauty, for two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox.
Connie K returns to open company after finishing second, beaten three-quarters of a length by the promising Summer Shoes, in a Dec. 30 allowance sprint at Oaklawn for Arkansas-bred females. Connie K, a 5-year-old daughter of dominant Arkansas stallion Street Strategy, was a front-running winner of the $150,000 Downthedustyroad Stakes for state-breds last March at Oaklawn for trainer Randy Morse, who also bred and races the mare in partnership with Randy Patterson.
I’m the Boss of Me finished fourth in the Poinsettia for trainer Greg Compton, an Arkansas native who is seeking his first career Oaklawn stakes victory. Lisette finished sixth in her last start, a Jan. 14 allowance sprint at Oaklawn for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Lukas has 49 career Oaklawn stakes victories.
The American Beauty is the first of three sprint stakes for older females this year at Oaklawn, a series that continues with the $150,000 Carousel Feb. 25 and the inaugural $250,000 Matron March 31. The Carousel and Matron are also six furlongs.