WEAST HILL LOOKS TO STRETCH OUT IN ARKANSAS BREEDERS’ STAKES
Hot Springs, Ark. (Thursday, March 31, 2016) – Weast Hill will try to successfully carry his speed around two turns for the first time in the $100,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes (open division) Friday at Oaklawn.
Probable post time for the Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes, the eighth of nine races, is 4:42 p.m. (Central). The 1 1/16-mile race is restricted to horses bred in Arkansas.
Weast Hill, the 8-5 program favorite, is unbeaten in four career starts at Oaklawn for owner/breeder Starsky Weast of Star City, Ark., and trainer Brad Cox.
But all of those victories, including two stakes scores against state-bred company, have come at 6 furlongs.
Weast Hill, who won the $100,000 Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes Feb. 28 at Oaklawn in his last start, will be racing beyond three-quarters of a mile for the first time in his seven-race career Friday.
“There’s a little bit of a question mark with him going that far, a mile and a sixteenth,” Cox said.
Weast Hill is scheduled to break from post 10 under Joe Rocco Jr. in the projected 10-horse field and carry equal top weight of 123 pounds. Normally, the 4-year-old Rockport Harbor gelding is a forward factor early.
“He’ll be on the lead, I guess,” Cox said with a laugh. “I’d say he’ll probably be on the lead. I would have liked to have drawn a little bit closer to the inside, but I think with as much speed as he has, he’ll naturally put himself out on the lead.”
Also entered are the two previous race winners, Mallard’s Bro and Trace Creek. Mallard’s Bro finished a distant fifth behind Weast Hill in the Nodouble, but is much better around two turns, trainer Al Cates of Hot Springs said.
Trace Creek will be making just his third start since winning last year’s Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes for owner/breeder John Ed Anthony of Hot Springs. He received a lengthy freshening after being transferred to new trainer Will VanMeter last summer. In the gelding’s March 13 comeback race at Oaklawn, Trace Creek finished an even sixth against open company in a tough allowance/optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles.
VanMeter said Friday’s race has been circled for months for Trace Creek, the 5-2 second choice in the program.
“John Ed called and said, ‘What do you think?’ ” Van Meter said. “I said, ‘Well, I thought it kind of had some romance and poetry to try to get him back to this race.’ Just every time we’ve breezed him, he’s gotten better. It’s a tough race.”
Trace Creek is scheduled to break from post 9 under Chris Landeros and carry 117 pounds.
Cannington, Meanbone, Chantmeupbaby, Naughty Moon, Indygo Bo, Strawn’s Cash and We Be Stormin complete the projected starting field.