Oaklawn News

Hot Springs, Ark. (Saturday, Feb. 20, 2015) – It may not have felt much like Spring on the track, but it certainly didn’t bother the aptly named Spring Included who made winning her first career stakes race look easy when she prevailed in Saturday’s $100,000 Spring Fever Stakes by 1 ¾ lengths. Sent off as the 5-2 favorite off a runner-up effort last out in the American Beauty Stakes, the winner returned $7.20, $4 and $2.80.

Spring Included was the first out of the gate, but succeed the lead to longshot Gratzie for an opening quarter mile in :22 2/5. She began to take control around the turn and once the field straightened out for the run to the wire, she drew well clear to win in a final time of 1:04 4/5 for 5 ½ furlongs over a sloppy track. Heykittykittykitty, who broke poorly and was last early, made a wide move around the turn to get within striking distance, but had to settle for second, holding off the late charging Haveyougoneaway by a nose.

“She did great,” said winning rider Joe Rocco Jr. “We thought we would go to the lead, but the one horse (Gratzie) did like I thought she might and we just sat off of her. We sat off them and she did her thing. She really likes competition and I thought if anybody was flying late, that was the only way they would beat her. If one of them were to inch up to her, she would feel them and respond. Late (in the race), I just made her see that horse to the outside of her and she kept on. She’s a fun one to ride and really tries for you.”

“It went exactly the way the way it was supposed to,” added trainer Steve Hobby, who said the filly would now be pointed for the $100,000 Carousel Stakes April 8 at six furlongs. “We're going to keep her sprinting. She’ll do about anything and run over anything, but we're just going to keep her sprinting.”

Owned by Alex Lieblong, Spring Included, a 4-year-old Include filly, improved her record to 4-3-1 in 11 career starts and has now earned $240,097.

Live racing will resume Sunday at Oaklawn with a 1:30 p.m. first post. The nine-race card will be highlighted by the $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3), rescheduled from the cancelled Presidents Day card. The Southwest is the eighth race at approximately 4:42 p.m.