As is the case with most sports, one of the interesting things can be how does an athlete perform when transitioning to a new season. Some move forward, some don’t. Success is never guaranteed, especially in today’s ultra-competitive society. Come April 11, one Thoroughbred trainer will see how one of his barn stars handles the step up into the world of older horse racing.

Mr Money was a flashy three-year old colt that made Bret Calhoun smile a lot in 2019. After some bad trips to begin the year, this strong running son of Goldencents found himself and was one of the best in what became a somewhat fractured division. Beginning with a jaw-dropping 5 ¼ length win in the Pat Day Mile on May 4, Mr. Money banked four consecutive wins, all in very impressive fashion. His sophomore season concluded with a near miss in the grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby and a mysterious seventh place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

“We put him in some good spots after a rough start and he responded very well,” says Calhoun. “I think we draw a line through the Breeders’ Cup and remember the five outstanding races he ran leading up to it. He was really a mature horse in the last part of the year and we are very proud of what he accomplished.”

The 2019 season was one to be happy about for sure. But alas, the calenadar has turned and now we will find out if new Money is as good as old Money. The Oaklawn Mile for four-year olds and up will be run at the fabled oval in Hot, Springs, Arkansas on April 11.

“We are very excited to see him run,” says a cautiously optimistic Calhoun. “The transition from three to four is always a big challenge. We get to see how he stacks up against older horses now. We like the distance and this is a good spot to start his four-year old season.”

Having not run since November 2, 2019, Money has had time to relax and mature both mentally and physically. Recent works have told his conditioner this son of broodmare Plenty O’Toole is at a prime rate.

“He has had a nice freshening and looks strong and mature right now,” says the Texas-born trainer. “His last work at Fair Grounds was really solid and told us he is ready to go.”

The recent world strife everyone has dealt with has not altered the game plan for Calhoun and Mr. Money. After a busy three-year old season that saw him race eight times, the plan was always to give him an extended break. One thing that may have changed however is the level of competition he is likely to face. With racing schedules reduced, the competition will certainly be stiffer. Local stalwarts like Tom’s d’Etat and Pioneer Spirit will be joined by some West coast shippers in Kershaw and Improbable for the Oaklawn Mile.

“We had targeted this race before all the virus stuff happened,” says Calhoun. “We thought about some other options but track closures lead us right back to our original plan. No doubt the race will be deeper, but we feel a horse with his talent can compete with top competition.”

As is the case with most of us, the future beyond the next few days is uncertain. Of course in this game you never want to get too far ahead of yourself anyway.

“Our only concern right now is April 11,” says Calhoun. “We wouldn’t think about another race for at least thirty days and we need to see how he runs anyway. Hopefully there will be a lot of options for him down the road. We have been blessed with a solid horse that hopefully can make it back to the Breeders’ Cup. All we are saying right now is thank God for Oaklawn Park.”

The $150,000 Oaklawn Mile will be the ninth race on a twelve race card. Post time is slated for 4:43 central.