Win Willy has been fighting uphill this season at Oaklawn Park, trainer McLean Robertson says, but the 5-year-old should get a better shake in the $125,000 Razorback Handicap (gr. III) March 12.
The 1 1/16-mile Razorback has a field of seven older horses and marks the return of Winslow Homer, whose sharp 3-year-old campaign was cut short last summer with a condylar fracture of his left foreleg.
The Razorback, which is on the same program as the Honeybee Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies, is the major local steppingstone to the $350,000 Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) April 9. It is the ninth race on the program with a 5:02 p.m. CST scheduled start.
Jer-Mar Stables' late-running Win Willy won last year's Razorback by nearly four lengths but was later disqualified after testing positive for two non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
He started the current Oaklawn season with a neck victory in the Fifth Season Stakes Jan. 16, but he was unable to overcome the easy front-runner Kate's Main Man while beaten three-quarters of a length as the even-money favorite in the Essex Handicap Feb. 13. Both races were moved from their originally scheduled dates because of weather-related cancellations. Robertson believes the bad weather led to track conditions that did not favor his runner's style.
"I think, based on what I've seen the last week or so, that the track is going to be more fair," said Robertson March 9. "When it looked like the horse on the lead (Kate's Main Man) was going to break into a jog last time, I was not feeling so good when we were sitting in last."
Win Willy, a gray/roan son of Monarchos, upset the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) in 2009 at 56-1 and has compiled a 4-3-0 record in nine starts at the Hot Springs track. Cliff Berry will be aboard once more in the Razorback. They will break from post 2 under top weight of 121 pounds.
Fox Hill Farm's Winslow Homer won his last start, Saratoga's Curlin Stakes, by nine lengths last August but was forced to miss the Travers Stakes (gr. I) when his injury was discovered. Winner of the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park to begin last season, he was previously trained by Tony Dutrow. He will make his first start for Larry Jones in the Razorback.
The son of Unbridled's Song has won four of six races in his career with two thirds. Mike Smith takes the mount and they will break from the far outside.
Kate's Main Man, whose speed held up in the Essex, will try to do it again for trainer Randy Morse and owner Randy Patterson. The Iowa-bred son of Bernstein won for the first time in seven tries at Oaklawn in his last start, but the 6-year-old gelding is no stranger to the winner's circle with 11 lifetime victories in 41 races. Calvin Borel retains the mount.
Cindy and Bob Zollars' Thiskyhasnolimit, a three-time stakes winner for trainer Steve Asmussen, ships from Southern California where he ran fourth in the San Fernando Stakes (gr. II) in his last start Jan. 15. The 4-year-old Sky Mesa colt is one of two entered by Asmussen along with It Happened Again.
The Maggi Moss-owned 5-year-old son of Proud Citizen has a pair of smashing wins over optional claiming foes at one mile during the meet. The gelding would appear to have the speed to keep Kate's Main Man honest.
$125,000 Razorback Handicap (gr. III, Race 9, 5:02 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Double Threat (FL), T J Thompson, 113, R Moquett
2. Win Willy (KY), M C Berry, 121, M Robertson
3. Golden Yank (KY), E Razo, Jr., 115, G A Thomas
4. Kate's Main Man (IA), C H Borel, 119, R L Morse
5. It Happened Again (KY), M C Baze, 117, S M Asmussen
6. Thiskyhasnolimit (KY), J Theriot, 119, S M Asmussen