Adirondack King and trainer John Servis have lived by the Postal Service creed since arriving last weekend for Monday's Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn. Neither rain, nor snow, etc., has kept them from preparing for action, including a half-mile workout Wednesday morning in driving rain.
"When I got here the first day you had snow," said Servis, making his return to Arkansas where eight years ago he and Smarty Jones rocketed to stardom and a near sweep of the Triple Crown. "Today it was pouring rain. Thank goodness the forecast is clearing up."
Adirondack King, a three-year-old son of 2006 Arkansas Derby winner Lawyer Ron, logged his breeze under Carlos Marquez Jr. just after 9 a.m. (CST). Despite heavy rains and orders to be careful, horse and rider skipped over the muddy track in :49 2/5 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:02.
"John said to go easy out there and concentrate on galloping an extra eighth at the end," Marquez said. "But he went really nice. Some horses need to make an adjustment to this track. He went right through it like he'd been here before."
The drill was a relief for Servis as the MarchFore Thoroughbreds colt seeks to build on a third-place finish in the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs to start his 2012 campaign.
"I woke this morning at 3 a.m. to the tune of a car alarm going off and thunder and lightning," he said. "Needless to say, I've been worried since then about whether this was the right move. I feel very, very good now. I'm very happy with the way he went."
The work was the second-fastest time at that distance and co-fourth-fastest overall behind three others who went a tick faster. There were 32 horses training at that distance Wednesday morning.
Adirondack King wasn't the only Southwest hopeful braving the muddy conditions on Wednesday.
Grade 1-placed Optimizer breezed a bullet five-eighths in 1:00 1/5 . The D. Wayne Lukas-trained son of English Channel is looking to rebound from a sixth-placing in the Smarty Jones Stakes in mid-January.
Atigun traveled five furlongs in 1:02 2/5 for conditioner Kenny McPeek. The Istan colt ran fifth in last year's Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club and opened his sophomore season with a neck victory against optional claiming rivals on January 15 while going 1 1/16 miles.
Trainer Joe Martin sent out the once-beaten Big Wednesday to cover five furlongs in 1:01 3/5 for the Southwest. The Repent dark bay defeated Mr. Prankster when taking the Fitz Dixon Jr. Memorial Juvenile Stakes in his last start in October. Mr. Prankster has since returned a romping winner in the Turfway Prevue and WEBN Stakes at Turfway Park in his past two.
Cyber Secret logged a half-mile in :50 1/5 for owner Charles Cella and trainer Lynn Whiting. The Broke Vow bay posted a 5 1/4-length optional claiming win two weeks ago while going 8 1/2 furlongs.
Stakes-placed Z Rockstar breezed a half in :49 4/5 for Donnie Von Hemel. The gray son of Rockport Harbor was a neck runner-up to Pee H Dee earlier this season in a one-mile allowance.
Pee H Dee actually put in his final work for the Southwest on Tuesday. The Chris Richard trainee worked in company with stablemate and fellow Southwest runner Ring It Up, and the pair shared the bullet time of :59 for five furlongs.
"It was a great work," Richard said Wednesday. "It was really good for both of them. It was a spirited workout, but that's exactly what I was looking for. They went head and head the whole time and got a chance to run around both turns. Hopefully, it works out and I'll get to run both of them."
Pee H Dee, a Tale of the Cat colt who ended his juvenile season with a third in Remington Park's Springboard Mile, started the year off in style with his neck win over Z Rockstar after opting out of the Smarty Jones Stakes on the same day. Ring It Up, a bay Toccet colt, will be looking to turn the tables on Atigun and Cyber Secret after finishing second to the former in a January 15 allowance race and was runner-up to the latter in a February 4 contest..
Junebugred, hero of the Smarty Jones Stakes on January 16 by a neck, also took to the track Tuesday. Steve Hobby sent the three-year-old son of Corinthian four furlongs Tuesday despite a muddy track. Junebugred ended up posting the bullet drill of eight working at that distance, clocking a time of :48 1/5 with exercise rider and former jockey William Hollick aboard.
"He went great," Hobby remarked Wednesday morning. "I could not be any happier with where we are at this point. He's about as ready as he can get and I think he's moved forward from his last race."
Hobby and Hollick were prepared to scrub Tuesday's workout because of the track conditions. Hollick was like a Manning quarterback (Peyton or Eli) with an option from coach Hobby right up to stepping on the track.
"Yesterday was always going to be the work day, but then I got a little worried because of the track," Hobby admitted. "So then I thought about waiting a day until I saw today's forecast. In the end, we decided to go to the track prepared to breeze, but Will could call it off if he felt like it wasn't right. Based on the rain today, I'm very glad we got this in."