ILLUSSION ARTIST PULLS UPSET IN CAROUSEL
RACER WINS SECOND STRAIGHT IN ARKANSAS BREEDERS’
HOT SPRINGS, AR (Saturday, April 7, 2017) – Steve Landers Racing LLC’s Illussion Artist, making her first stakes start against open company, benefitted from a ground saving trip and got up in the final strides to win the $150,000 Carousel Stakes by 1 ½ lengths over Chanteline. Athena, the 9-5 favorite, was third.
Ridden by Richard Eramia, Illussion Artist was unhurried early and content to race in fifth place while Chanteline led through early fractions of :21 3/5 and :44 3/5 for the first half mile. The winner came up the rail, challenged the leader with less than a furlong remaining and drew off to win the six-furlong race in 1:09 2/5 over fast track.
“Great ride,” said trainer Brad Cox by phone from Kentucky. “She’s a tough filly. She showed that today. The jock did a great job of letting her break and settle into stride. Obviously, they were rolling up front. He saved ground and she ran down a nice filly. She ran great today.”
Illussion Artist, a 4-year-old Drosselmeyer filly, improved her record to five wins from seven starts and has now earned $245,320. She returned $21.40, $8.40 and $4.80 at odds of 9-1.
One race earlier, Val Yagos’ Racer won his second straight stakes win of the meet in the $100,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes, which is restricted to state breds.
Racer, with regular rider Jon Court in the saddle, sat right off of early leader and 4-5 favorite Weast Hill through early fractions of :23 and :45 4/5 for the first half mile. The winner began to make his move around the turn for home as the favorite began to fade and opened up a clear margin of victory through the stretch, winning by 1 ½ lengths over the late closing Mallard’s Bro. Chantmeupbaby also closed well for third. Weast Hill finished sixth of nine in his attempt to win the race for the second straight year.
Racer, a homebred Jonesboro gelding, improved his record to 4-1-4 in 15 career starts and has now earned $231,078. He returned $7.60, $4 and $3.20 as the 5-2 second choice.
Live racing resumes Sunday with a 1:30 p.m. first post. Following this card, there will only be four more days remaining in Oaklawn’s 2017 live season, which concludes Saturday, April 15 with the 81st running of the $1 million Arkansas Derby.
Winning trainer Brad Cox, Illusion Artist: “Great ride. She’s a tough filly. She showed that today. The jock did a great job of letting her break and settle into stride. Obviously, they were rolling up front. He saved ground and she ran down a nice filly. She ran great today.”
Cox said Illussion Artist will head to Kentucky. Future plans are pending.
“We’ll be looking to try to increase her value with some graded black type in the future. Right now, we will enjoy this.”
Winning rider Richard Eramia, Illussion Artist: “She’s a really nice filly. You can do whatever she wants, and she relaxes. She is a classy filly. She won the race. I didn’t do anything wrong, but she won the race.”
Jockey Joe Rocco Jr., third on beaten favorite Athena: “My filly ran really big, they went fast and they kept going. Last couple times we were lucky with an inside post and she just fell into the pocket there and had dream trips. Today she had to work a little harder for it and really (got some air).”
Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes Quotes:
Winning rider Jon Court, Racer: “Weast Hill is tough, I just didn’t want to hook up and us both cook each other off but we still end up on the lead. I tried to leave him alone and let him go easy. We had a strong south wind today so it puts a lot of tailwind so the horses are pushed pretty handily down the backside. You’ll see quicker fractions down the backside but he was able to have enough to finish in front of him.”
Winning owner Val Yagos: “He’s a homebred. I’ve had him from Day 1. He’s been wonderful. This is so exciting. I’m overwhelmed. Speechless and overwhelmed, and that doesn’t happen very often, really. I want to thank Tim Martin. He’s done wonderful work with Racer. This is just thrilling. Oh, my goodness.”