Only five older horses passed the entry box for Saturday's $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II), which along with the Apple Blossom (gr. I) kicks off the Racing Festival of the South at the Hot Springs, Ark. track.
Toting high weight of 117 pounds will be Wilmott Stables' Eddington, an easy winner last out in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II). Classic-placed last spring while third behind Smarty Jones in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), Eddington has a 5-3-5 slate from 15 career starts.
A son of the late Unbridled, Eddington has run well in all three of his 4-year-old starts at Gulfstream Park, winning an optional claiming event Jan. 16 before running third in the Donn Handicap (gr. I) at the Oaklawn Handicap distance of nine furlongs. He finished behind Saint Liam and Roses in May, the latter the winner of the $6-million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) last month.
A stalker-type, the Mark Hennig-trained Eddington will be ridden again by Eibar Coa.
Eddington faces only four in the Oaklawn Handicap, but should have his hands full. Breaking from the rail will be Second of June (113 pounds) and Limehouse (115) breaks from post 3. Both horses placed in the March 12 New Orleans Handicap (gr. II).
Second of June, winner of the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) and beaten a neck by Read the Footnotes
in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) last spring, is making his fourth start since the long February-to-December layoff following the Fountain of Youth. His best effort came in his last, finishing third, five lengths back of winner Badge of Silver, in the New Orleans Handicap. Owned by Barbara Cesare and trained by William Cesare, Second of June is a 4-year-old son of Louis Quatorze
out of the Spectacular Bid mare Whow.
Limehouse, fourth in last year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I), was second in the New Orleans Handicap, a length back of the winner. He also finished ahead of Second of June while running second in the Sunshine Millions Classic in January at Gulfstream Park. By Grand Slam
--Dixieland Blues, by Dixieland Band
, Limehouse is a half-brother to recent UAE Derby (UAE-II) winner and Derby candidate Blues and Royals.
Owned by Dogwood Stable and trained by Todd Pletcher, Limehouse is a four-time stakes winner and has earned $827,435. He should come running from off the pace.
Rounding out the field is local hope Crowned King and Grand Reward. Crowned King makes his fifth start of the meet in the Oaklawn Handicap and is still looking for his first victory. A three-time stakes winner in 2003 including the Rebel Stakes, he's only 1-for-19 in 2004-05.
Grand Reward has a grand pedigree, Storm Cat
--Serena's Song, by Rahy
but has only a mile allowance win to his credit since shipping from overseas last fall. Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II), $500,000, 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/8 miles, Oaklawn Park, Saturday, April 9, approx. post 5:05 CDT
PP - Horse - Jockey - Weight
1 - Second of June - Pat Valenzuela - 113
2 - Crowned King - Luis Quinonez - 110
3 - Limehouse - John Velazquez - 115
4 - Grand Reward - John McKee - 112
5 - Eddington - Eibar Coa - 117