Before May 28, Willcox Inn was best known as a horse whose lone win came against Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Animal Kingdom. But in scoring the $100,000 Arlington Classic (VIDEO), the son of Harlan's Holiday is beginning to write his own legacy.
With Robby Albarado aboard for trainer Michael Stidham, Willcox Inn pressed pacesetter Crimson Knight for much of the way, took over at the top of the stretch, and bounded home for a 2 1/2-length win on the yielding turf course. The final time for 1 1/16 miles was 1:49.51.
Sent off as the 3-2 favorite in a field of nine 3-year-olds, Wilcox Inn won for the second time in six starts. He broke his maiden in his debut last September on the Arlington Park main track, defeating eventual Derby winner Animal Kingdom by 2 3/4 lengths.
A potential Derby contender himself earlier this year, Willcox Inn saw his hopes dashed when he finished eighth in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) last month.
All In Stable owns Willcox Inn, who was bred in Kentucky by Dr. John A. Chandler.
Willcox Inn had the perfect trip in the Arlington Classic, following closely behind Crimson Knight through easy splits of :25.42, :51.88, and 1:17.63. He took over at the top of the stretch, put Crimson Knight away at the sixteenth-pole, and won with something left. Suntracer rallied for second under Julien Leparoux, edging Extensive by a head. Crimson Knight was fourth.
“He broke really aggressive,” Albarado said. “It was his first time with blinkers today and I kind of put him in the race up the backside. He may have been a little too keen today but when he settled midway he was fine and he came home very nice. I thought the pace was pedestrian. We were walking up the backside. I knew we’d finish up well; it was just a matter if we were going to get by the other horse. He gave me every indication he was ready.”
“(Today’s win) was kind of special because Michael Baze broke his maiden on him first time out and we rode with his girths today.”
Willcox Inn, who finished third in both the Dixiana Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs last season, earned $57,600 for the Arlington Classic to push his bankroll to $227,543. He is out of the Gone West mare De Aar.
Willcox inn paid $5, $2.80, and $2.40. Suntracer returned $4.20 and $2.80. Extensive paid $2.80.