San Antonio H. (gr. II)

(gr. II , 9f ,)

WELL ARMED (B g, 115 lb) $150,000
Tiznow —Well Dressed , by Notebook
B—WinStar Farm, LLC, KY.; O—WinStar Farm LLC; T—Eoin G. Harty

Heatseeker (IRE) (CH h, 116 lb) $50,000
Giant's Causeway —Rusty Back , by Defensive Play
B—Richard F Barnes, IRE.; O—William Deburgh; T—Jerry Hollendorfer

Awesome Gem (CH g, 118 lb) $30,000
Awesome Again —Piano , by Pentelicus
B—Peter J. Callahan, KY.; O—West Point Thoroughbreds; T—Craig Dollase

Margins: head, 1½, 3¾. Others: Big Booster 117($15,000) , Student Council 119($5,000) , Racketeer 114 , Zappa 115 , Rathor (IRE) 116 , Sweetnorthernsaint 118 . Winning Jockey, Aaron T. Gryder.

A sizzling front-running effort netted WinStar Farm homebred Well Armed his first stakes victory in the Feb. 9 San Antonio Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park. Going 11/8 miles on the renovated all weather track, Well Armed won the $250,000 contest by a head.

“It was obviously an exciting race,” said Doug Cauthen, president and CEO of Bill Casner and Kenny Troutt’s WinStar Farm. “We hoped for that kind of effort; it’s nice when it works out.”

The 5-year-old Tiznow gelding took anything but the conventional route to a graded win in California. Although bred in Kentucky, Well Armed began his career in England and then Dubai before returning to the United States. The Eoin Harty trainee got his first stakes placing this January when he was second in the San Pasqual Handicap (gr. II).

“We always thought a lot of this horse,” continued Cauthen. “We sent two horses to Clive Brittain to train and this horse happened to be one of them. Clive always thought he would be a serious horse.”

Well Armed took most of 2006 and 2007 off—about 18 months total—to deal with an injury and subsequent surgery. Cauthen said he was gelded at that time in an effort to keep extra weight from being added to his frame since he’s a large horse, like his sire.

“The neat thing with this win,” said Cauthen, “is it’s a testament to the owners’ patience that they gave him a chance. Bill (Casner) especially deserves a lot of credit for encouraging us all to give this horse the time. It was his personal interest in the horse that’s led to this ultimate success.”

WinStar bought the San Antonio winner’s dam, Well Dressed, for $150,000 at the 2001 Keeneland November breeding stock sale from the consignment of Eaton Sales, agent. She was in foal to Awesome Again.

“She’s a very attractive mare and had some talent,” said Cauthen. “She’s a stakes mare, had a lot of speed. Injecting a bit of speed into a mating with Tiznow is a good thing.”

The mare is in foal to Speightstown and will be going back to Tiznow this spring. WinStar also has a yearling full sister to Well Armed.

Cauthen said the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) is “an obvious choice” for Well Armed’s next start. “However,” added Cauthen, “the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) is also an option. We know he likes the track.”

Horse of the Year Tiznow has sired Well Armed and eight other stakes winners, including grade I winner Tough Tiz’s Sis, who finished second in the Santa Maria Handicap (gr. I) on the same card as the San Antonio. Tiznow stands at WinStar near Versailles, Ky., where his 2008 fee is $30,000.—J.W.