With a big charge through the homestretch, Win Willy picked up his first stakes win since last spring's Rebel Stakes (gr. II) when he drew away to easily take the $150,000 Razorback Handicap (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park March 6 (VIDEO).
Ridden by Cliff Berry, Jer-Mar Stables' Win Willy raced without blinkers for trainer McLean Robertson and improved markedly on his second-place showing in Oaklawn's Essex Handicap in February when he was defeated by 4 1/4 lengths.
The 4-year-old Win Willy shocked in last year's Rebel when he teamed with Berry to tally by 2 1/4 lengths at odds of 56-1. The son of Monarchos--City Fair (by Carson City) subsequently finished fourth in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II) before going to the sidelines for five months.
Win Willy raced at the back of the eight-horse pack in the Razorback, a major prep for the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) in April, but rallied impressively down the middle of the track to catch pacesetter Spotsgone inside the final furlong, finishing full of run to win by 3 3/4 lengths. The final time was 1:43.83 on a fast track for the 1 1/16-mile distance.
Spotsgone, sent off at odds of 29-1, led a speedy field through fractions of :23.55, :47.11, and 1:11.75, shaking loose in the lane for Jon Court and threatening to go all the way. He finished a clear second by one length over favored Gone Astray , who was a neck in front of Prom Shoes for third.
Phipps Stable's 8-5 choice Gone Astray, last year's Pennsylvania Derby and Ohio Derby (gr. II) winner, was making his 2010 debut for trainer Shug McGaughey. He rallied into contention in the stretch after stalking the pace but came up short as the 119-pound high weight.
Win Willy earned his fifth career victory in 10 starts and boosted his earnings to $412,643 with the winning purse of $90,000. Win Willy adores the Oaklawn main track, on which he has won four of six races since breaking his maiden at Canterbury Park in August 2008.
The Razorback purse included $50,000 from the Breeders' Cup Fund.
Overbrook Farm bred Win Willy in Kentucky. The gray/roan colt sold for $25,000 at Keeneland's September yearling sale in 2007.
Sent off as the second choice, Win Willy carried 116 pounds and paid $7.40, $3.80, and $2.60 while topping a $204.80 exacta. The hard-trying 7-year-old Spotsgone, making his 19th lifetime start at Oaklawn, returned $18.60 and $7. Gone Astray paid $2.80 to show.