HEAVY FAVORITE WEAST HILL SHOWS NEW DIMENSION WITH WIN
Hot Springs, Ark. (Friday, April 1, 2016) – The heavy 3-5 favorite Weast Hill answered a big question Friday when he improved his Oaklawn record to a perfect five for five with his victory in the $100,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes, his first start beyond six furlongs. He returned $3.20, $3.20 and $3 to all backers who were confident in his ability to handle two turns.
Weast Hill assumed his usual position at the front of the field and led through an opening quarter mile in :23. He allowed Indygo Bo to take over for a half mile in :47 2/5, but quickly took command rounding the turn and was never seriously challenged as he drew off to win impressively by four lengths. He completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45 over a fast track.
“He’s a very, very, very good horse,” said winning jockey Joe Rocco Jr. “I didn’t know how he would handle going long for the first time, but we were able to settle a little bit. I thought that was about as fast as we could go being upfront without going too fast. He’s a nice horse and really showed it today.”
Mallard’s Bro came from eighth-place early in the race to be second, a half-length in front of third-place finisher Meanbone. Trace Creek, last year’s winner, was fourth.
“Joe did a good job,” said winning trainer Brad Cox, who conditions the 4-year-old Rockport Harbor gelding for Starsky Weast. “We knew he would break sharp and put himself on the pace. Joe did the best he could idling him down. He showed up and ran a big race.”
Weast Hill has now won a total of six races from eight starts and has earned $279,710. Cox indicated after the race that he will now try turf racing in his next start, which will likely be at Churchill Downs.
Live racing resumes Saturday at Oaklawn with a 1 p.m. first post. The featured race is the $100,000 Rainbox Miss for 3-year-old Arkansas-bred fillies.
Cox will be Oaklawn’s special guest at tomorrow’s Dawn at Oaklawn at 8:30 a.m. on the South Apron. The entire program, which offers a behind-the-scene look of Oaklawn, runs 7:30 – 9:30 a.m. and also includes barn tours.