WEAST HILL LOOKS TO REBOUND IN ARKANSAS BREEDERS’
HOT SPRINGS, AR (Friday, April 6, 2017) – Weast Hill tries to rebound from his first career local setback in the $100,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes Saturday at Oaklawn.
Probable post time for the 1 1/16-mile Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes, the eighth of 10 races, is 4:38 p.m. (Central). Racing begins at 1:05 p.m., with the infield open, weather permitting.
Bred and owned by Starsky Weast of Star City, Ark., Weast Hill is the 7-5 program favorite in the projected nine-horse field. hE won his first seven starts at Oaklawn, including three stakes, before finishing second in the $100,000 Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes Feb. 25.
Weast Hill, a 5-year-old Rockport Harbor gelding, will again try to successfully stretch out in the Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes, which the gelding won by four front-running lengths last year.
“I guess this is what, his second start around two turns?” trainer Brad Cox said. “The first one was good. A year later, we’ll try it again. He’s doing well. He’s moving great right now. We’re pleased with where we are.”
Weast Hill is scheduled to break from post 4 under regular rider Joe Rocco Jr. and carry equal top weight of 123 pounds.
Completing the projected Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes field from the rail out: Gently Tapped, Katie Clawson to ride, 120 pounds, 30-1 on the morning line; Mallard’s Bro, Richard Eramia, 114, 6-1; Racer, Jon Court, 123, 9-5; J P of Galilee, Calvin Borel, 120, 15-1; Midnight Ruler, Geovanni Franco, 117, 12-1; October Sky, Walter De La Cruz, 117, 20-1; Chantmeupbaby, Joe Johnson, 114, 10-1; and Arch Revenge, Alex Birzer, 118, 15-1.
Prior to the Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes, Weast Hill had to work hard to win two state-bred allowance sprints earlier in the meeting over Racer. That rival turned the tables in the 6-furlong Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes, going straight to the front and holding off Weast Hill by 1 ¼ lengths.
“There’s some horses that caught up to him, obviously, around one turn, because he’s not been as impressive this year around one turn as he was the last two,” Cox said. “Like I said, he’s moving well. I think he’s set up for a big effort on Saturday.”
Racer exits a strong third-place finish in open allowance/optional claiming company March 19 at 1 1/16 miles for trainer Tim Martin of nearby Glenwood, Ark.
Racer finished fourth in the $100,000 Rainbow Stakes last year at Oaklawn, a 6-furlong race restricted to 3-year-old Arkansas-bred colts and geldings (Weast Hill won in 2015). The Jonesboro gelding has only finished worse than fourth once in seven subsequent starts.
“I feel good about him,” Martin said. “He’s doing good, really training good. I don’t know what will happen if Weast Hill goes with him. May change things up. That Racer ran a huge race last time for those kind of horses.”
Stretch-running Mallard’s Bro won the 2014 Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes, was third in 2015 and second last year for trainer Al Cates of Hot Springs. He will be racing around two turns after sprinting in his first three starts at the meeting.
“Hey, I like my chances better going long,” Cates said of beating Weast Hill. “I know they’re not good, but I like them better going long.”
Cates saddled The Mallard Man, an older half-brother of Mallard’s Bro, to win the inaugural Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes in 2011.