The Northern Spur Stakes at Oaklawn has lured a field of eight, including 5-2 program favorite Hillbilly Royalty, bred and owned by Toby Keith.
Hillbilly Royalty enters the one-mile Northern Spur with a 2-0-0 record from three lifetime starts. His sole loss came in the Southwest Stakes. Trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel opted to take Hillbilly Royalty off the Arkansas Derby path following that race.
“After we ran in the Southwest, it just made more sense to try this spot as opposed to one of the graded stakes,” Von Hemel said.
Mike Smith, in town to ride Far Right in the Arkansas Derby, is scheduled to ride Hillbilly Royalty for the first time. The Langfuhr gelding drew post 3.
Von Hemel also entered Poseidon’s Way, a winner of two of four lifetime starts. Poseidon’s Way is coming off a runner-up finish behind Northern Spur entrant Holiday Man in a March 20 allowance race. A Triple Crown nominee, Holiday Man has won half his lifetime starts for trainer Steve Asmussen, and earned a career-high 90 Beyer Speed Figure for that two-turn win.
“I thought he ran a really good race,” Asmussen said.
The balance of the field is completed by Bubba Roan, Hillbilly Style, Supermason, Big Big Easy and Wolf Man Rocket.
Wolf Man Rocket, a $550,000 2-year-old in training purchase, is winless in two career starts this year at Santa Anita. The son of Mineshaft is trained by Bob Baffert and arrived Wednesday with American Pharoah.
The complete field for the $100,000 Northern Spur, in post position order, with riders and morning line odds: Bubba Roan, Calvin Borel, 15-1; Hillbilly Style, Ramon Vazquez, 15-1; Hillbilly Royalty, Mike Smith, 5-2; Supermason, Jesus Castanon, 5-1; Big Big Easy, Channing Hill, 8-1; Holiday Man, Ricardo Santana Jr., 7-2; Poseidon’s Way, Luis Quinonez, 9-2 and Wolf Man Rocket, Victor Espinoza, 4-1.
Edited Oaklawn Park release