Hot Springs, Ark. (Thursday, March 26, 2015) – Trace Creek is the 8-5 program favorite for the $75,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes (open division) Friday afternoon at Oaklawn. The Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes headlines a nine-race card and has a probable post time of 4:42 p.m. (Central).

The 1 1/16-mile Arkansas Breeders’ is restricted to horses, 3-year-olds and upward, who were bred in Arkansas. Trace Creek, owned by Arkansas lumberman John Ed Anthony, is coming off an eighth-place finish in the $125,000 Fair Grounds Handicap (G3) on the grass Feb. 21 at Fair Grounds.

The 5-year-old Harperstown horse has made his last seven starts on the turf for trainer Kenny McPeek, but is a three-time winner at Oaklawn.

Trainer Al Cates, who is scheduled to saddle defending Arkansas Breeders’ champion Mallard’s Bro, said Trace Creek is “definitely” the one to beat.

“Just looking at it, I’m one of these that believes he can run on dirt, also,” said Cates, who won the inaugural Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes (open division) in 2011 with The Mallard Man, the recently retired half-brother of Mallard’s Bro.

Trace Creek finished a well-beaten ninth behind Mallard’s Bro in last year’s race. Mallard’s Bro is coming off a sixth-place finish against state-breds in the $75,000 Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes March 8, but the gelding was pinched back at the start, and the race was six furlongs. Cates said Mallard’s Bro is much more effective around two turns.

“He’s not a sprinter,” Cates said. “He’s definitely back at his distance.”

Chris Landeros is scheduled to pilot Trace Creek from post 4 in the projected 10-horse field. Mallard’s Bro, the early 7-2 second choice, is scheduled to break from the extreme outside under Ricardo Santana Jr., who guided the gelding to his neck victory in last year’s race.

Two-time Arkansas Breeders’ champion Devil and a Half (2012 and 2013) is coming off a ninth-place finish behind Mallard’s Bro in a state-bred allowance race at 1 1/16 miles Feb. 15. Devil and a Half, an 8-year-old Storm and a Half gelding, also finished fifth against open $10,000 claiming company Feb. 1. He is scheduled to break from post 5 under Alex Canchari, who has jumpstarted his 2015 year after moving his tack from Southern California to Oaklawn in mid-February.

Too Tall, Proud Image, Backontheroad, Hicks Honey, Pistolpackinpenny, October Sky and Guska Mon Shoes are also entered. Pistolpackinpenny will be challenging males after whipping state-bred fillies and mares by 6 ¾ lengths in the $75,000 Downthedustyroad Breeders’ Stakes March 6 at six furlongs.
 

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