McCarthy: Oaklawn Mile Could Propel Rushie To ‘Bigger And Better Things’

Southern California-based trainer Michael McCarthy will try to pad his sparkling Oaklawn resume when Rushie makes his 4-year-old debut in Saturday’s $400,000 Oaklawn Mile for older horses.

McCarthy, a former Todd Pletcher assistant, has won half of his eight career Oaklawn starts, including the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses in 2018 with City of Light and last year’s $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) for older fillies and mares with Ce Ce.

Rushie is a winner in Hot Springs, too, claiming a closing-day first-level allowance route last year when McCarthy sent a handful of promising young horses to Oaklawn late in the meeting after racing in California was shuttered (COVID-19).

Rushie went on to capture the $500,000 Pat Day Mile (G2) for 3-year-olds Sept. 5 at Churchill Downs and will be making his first start since finishing seventh in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) Nov. 7 at Keeneland. It was his first race against older horses.

“Had himself a nice break, 60-day break, after the Breeders’ Cup,” McCarthy said Tuesday afternoon. “Horse has come to hand quickly. A spot like this for $400,000 over a racetrack we know he likes seemed to make sense and possibly propel him on to some bigger and better things here later in the year, hopefully.”

The consistent Rushie – first, second or third in 6 of 8 lifetime starts – competed against many of the country’s top 3-year-olds last year, including Authentic, Swiss Skydiver, Charlatan, Honor A. P. and Art Collector.

Rushie’s three victories have been at a mile or a mile and a sixteenth, but McCarthy said he believes the colt may be able to effectively handle longer distances later in 2021. The hope, McCarthy said, is in “bigger races going a little bit farther than at a mile.”

“I don’t think a mile and an eighth is going to be a problem,” McCarthy said. “Hopefully in the fall of the year he’s able to get a mile and a quarter. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. Obviously, Pat Day Mile, one-turn mile, he was very good. He was good there around two turns. He’s won at 3 of 4 racetracks that he’s gone to, so I’m good with it. We’ve got plenty of options in front of us. If he stays healthy, he’ll dictate where we go.”

From the first crop of Grade 1 winner Liam’s Map, Rushie has earned $503,151 for owners Jim and Donna Daniell.

The projected nine-horse Oaklawn Mile field from the rail out: Long Range Toddy, Jon Court to ride, 117 pounds; Gun It, Ricardo Santana Jr., 117; Wells Bayou, Florent Geroux, 124; Rushie, Joel Rosario, 124; Blackberry Wine, David Cabrera, 121; By My Standards, Gabriel Saez, 124; Pioneer Spirit, Ramon Vazquez, 124; Home Base, Francisco Arrieta, 117; and The Sound, Martin Garcia, 121.

Long Range Toddy (first division of the 2019 Rebel at Oaklawn), Wells Bayou (2020 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds) and By My Standards (2020 Oaklawn Handicap) are also Grade 2 winners.

Probable post time for the Oaklawn Mile, which goes as the ninth of 13 races, is 4:49 p.m. (Central). Last year’s Oaklawn Mile runner-up, Improbable, went on to capture three Grade 1 events and was named the country’s champion older dirt male.

The post McCarthy: Oaklawn Mile Could Propel Rushie To ‘Bigger And Better Things’ appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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