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Junebugred works for Southwest
Junebugred, who stepped up off an Aqueduct maiden win to capture the January 16 Smarty Jones Stakes, worked at Oaklawn Park on Sunday in preparation for the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes on February 20.
Under exercise rider William Hollick, the nominal leader of the three-year-old pack at Oaklawn went five furlongs in 1:02, the 10th-fastest of the 52 training at that distance on the crisp morning and fast track. He had a target in workmate Isabull, who finished his breeze in 1:03.
"It was great," said Steve Hobby, who trains the colt for JoAnn and Alex Lieblong of Conway, Arkansas.
"It was just what I asked for. He went with Isabull a couple lengths ahead of him, and William let him go in the stretch and finished a couple lengths in front of him and galloped out strongly. This was the main work. He's plenty fit, but we wanted to see him lope out there through a strong three-quarters and that's what he did."
By getting this workout satisfactorily in the books, Hobby believes that the son of Corinthian is well positioned to progress from his neck win in the Smarty Jones to start his march toward the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on April 14.
"This makes it a lot easier," Hobby said. "If he hadn't have worked like this, then you have to think about coming back with something more this week. There's less pressure now on him."
Also recording Sunday works were another pair of Smarty Jones alumni.
Reckless Jerry, a strong second in the Smarty Jones, traveled his five-eighths in 1:02 2/5.
Stakes winner Jake Mo, who held fourth after forcing the pace in the Smarty Jones, negotiated seven furlongs in 1:29 1/5.
In other news regarding the sophomore set at Oaklawn, Charles Cella's Cyber Secret posted a breakout, wire-to-wire allowance victory Saturday that put him suddenly in the Arkansas Derby picture. He erased the memory of his first start at Oaklawn January 15.
Purchased by the Oaklawn president late last year from Gary and Mary West after two starts for trainer Chad Brown in New York and Kentucky, Cyber Secret went to trainer Lynn Whiting and was backed as the second-choice in an allowance race on opening weekend. The son of Broken Vow did not put his best foot forward, breaking poorly, racing wide, finding traffic and ending up ninth.
His second try was a far different story, this time breaking sharply, taking command on the front end and dominating to a 5 1/4-length win under Channing Hill.
"You have to feel really good about the effort," said Whiting, best known as the trainer of 1992 Kentucky Derby winner Lil E Tee, and who repeatedly schooled Cyber Secret in the starting gate after his earlier debacle.
"It is some vindication after he had so many problems in his last race. We know we can pretty much toss it out."
Cyber Secret earned an impressive 100 BRIS Speed rating for the romp. Numbers aside, the performance showed Whiting a return to stakes races can't be far off.
"He's been training like a (good) horse and he looks like a (good) horse," he said. "We will see how he comes out of this and if he does in good order I'm sure we will seek bigger fish to fry."
Cyber Secret finished seventh in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs in his last start for his previous owners.