It Happened Again and Michael Baze take the Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn.

It Happened Again and Michael Baze take the Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn.

Coady Photography

It Happened Again Wins Razorback for Asmussen

Trainer completes the exacta with Thiskyhasnolimit at Oaklawn Park March 12.

Trainer Steve Asmussen took the top two spots in the $125,000 Razorback Handicap (gr. III) when It Happened Again registered his first graded stakes win by a half-length over stablemate Thiskyhasnolimit March 12 at Oaklawn Park (VIDEO).

A crowd of 24,111, the largest of the meet so far, was on hand for a program that included the Razorback and the Honeybee Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies won by Joyful Victory.

Ridden by Michael Baze for owner Maggi Moss, It Happened Again pressed the pace in the 1 1/16-mile dirt test, taking the lead into the stretch and opening a one-length advantage. The 5-year-old Proud Citizen gelding prevailed in a game effort over the slowly gaining Thiskyhasnolimit.

“The best thing about it is that he was a horse my girlfriend and I claimed for Maggi and Steve for $20,000 at Woodbine," said Asmussen's assistant, Devron Leingang. "It was a mutual thing between us all. We had been watching him up there and decided to take a chance on him. To see him turn into a stakes winner like this is really, really great.”

Veterinarian Dede McGehee bred the winner in Kentucky. It Happened Again, on a three-race winning streak at the Oaklawn meet, is out of Quiet Lucky, by Quiet American.

The runner-up, ridden by Jamie Theriot, stalked the pace off the rail and responded to urging in the stretch until running out of time. Thiskyhasnolimit finished 1 1 /4 lengths clear of the show horse, Win Willy, with Cliff Berry aboard. Winslow Homer, the 9-5 favorite in the field of seven, was never a factor after encountering trouble early and finished sixth.

The final time was 1:453.58 over a fast track.

"The way we were able to sit just off that pace worked out perfectly," Baze said of his winning trip. "He's such a nice horse. When I've asked for it, he's given it to me."

Kate's Main Man, winner of the Essex Handicap in his last start Feb. 13, carved even fractions of :23.98, :48 flat and 1:12.35 before giving way in the stretch.

It Happened Again, who won for the seventh time in 23 lifetime starts, was coming off a 7 1/4-length win at Oaklawn over an optional claiming allowance field going one mile Feb. 25. He also beat an optional claiming field by four lengths a month prior to that. He has three wins in four starts at Oaklawn.

“I’m just hysterical right now," Moss said. "God, that was great. I need to start showing up for these things. I wish we could keep him stabled at Oaklawn all year. He loves the place.”

The Razorback is the main local stakes prep for the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) April 9 but Moss ruled that out for It Happened Again.

“No, I won’t do that to the horse," she said. "He’s getting a break. He’s had three straight races. He’s getting lots of carrots and apples and a break.”

It Happened Again, who ran second in the Barbaro Stakes (gr. II) and third in the Canadian Derby (Can-III) in 2009, increased his career earnings to $333,078 with the winning share of $75,000.

He paid $9.40, $5.20 and $3.60 as the fourth choice in the field while carrying 117 pounds. Thiskyhasnolimit, shipping to Oaklawn from Southern California for Asmussen, returned $4.40 and $3.20 and rounded out a $51.40 exacta. Win Willy, the 121-pound high weight, came with his usual late rally but it wasn't enough. He paid $2.40 to show.

Double Threat, Kate's Main Man, Winslow Homer and Golden Yank completed the order.