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John Velazquez celebrates aboard Race Day after winning the Oaklawn Handicap

2015 Oaklawn Racing Festival of the South

Date: 04/11/2015

Kicking off the stakes action on Arkansas Derby day, the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) featured a field of 9 older horses going 1 1/8 miles on the main track. Razorback Handicap (G3) winner Race Day was sent off as the 6-5 favorite. In to challenge him included 7-2 second choice Tapiture, runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) before fifth in the Razorback, and 6-1 third choice Golden Lad, off his win in the Essex Handicap.
horse racing
Down the stretch in the Oaklawn Handicap.

Race Day and 9-1 Carve dueled for the lead through opening fractions of 23.18, 46.71, and 1:10.51 over the fast main track while stalked by Golden Lad and 15-1 Street Strategy. At the top of the lane, Race Day opened up a clear lead through 1 mile in 1:35.51. Kept to task by John Velazquez, Race Day drew off to a 3 3/4 length win in 1:47.93. It was a long 4 lengths more from Carve back to late-running Tapiture third.

Also check out American Pharoah winning the Arkansas Derby and Untapable winning the Apple Blossom during the Racing Festival of the South at Oaklawn.

Past winners of the Oaklawn Handicap
horse racing

Pgm  Horse              Jockey         Win   Place  Show
 1   Race Day           Velazquez     4.40    3.60  2.80
 4   Carve              Castanon              7.20  4.80
 3   Tapiture           Quinonez                    3.20

Winning Time:  1:47.93

$2 Exacta 1-4                33.80
$1 Trifecta 1-4-3            56.30
$0.10 Superfecta 1-4-3-5     16.06
Results Chart from DRF.

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Race Day in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Todd Pletcher said, "It was a super effort. We are very pleased with the trip. We'll get him home and discuss with Matthew (Schera, owner) about some options."

Right: The trophy presentation for the Oaklawn Handicap.

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Race Day heads out to the track for the race. Winning jockey John Velazquez said, "It worked out perfect. We went a little quicker than I expected to, but we had no choice to be upfront. We got good position going into the first turn and I tried to save enough horse for the run home. He did everything so easy coming to the 1/4 pole. When I asked him right at the 1/8 pole he responded. I'm very proud of the way he ran today."

Right: Race Day in the post parade.

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Second place finisher Carve in the infield walking ring. Carve was third in the race last year. Trainer Brad Cox said, "I was kind of concerned when they went down the backside and I saw 46 and change. But when they got to the three-eighths pole everyone else was struggling behind them pretty hard so I thought it was going to come down to the two of us. Turning for home I thought we had a pretty good shot at going by but maybe losing the ground around both turns had a little to do with it. But it was a big effort and I'm very happy with him."

Right: Third place finisher Tapiture in the post parade. The 7-2 second choice raced 5th early under Luis Quinonez, then rallied to get third beaten 7 3/4 lengths. The Steve Asmussen trainee improved his record to 4 wins, 4 seconds, and 3 thirds in 14 starts, earning $1,445,560 for owner-breeder Winchell Thoroughbreds.

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Shortly after the start of the Oaklawn Handicap.

Right: The jockeys for the Oaklawn Handicap head out to the infield walking ring.

The $100,000 Instant Racing Stakes featured a field of 6 three-year-old fillies sprinting 6 furlongs. 16-1 Calypso Run and 2-1 Indian Brava dueled through opening fractions of 21.75 and 45.49. 4-5 favorite Promise me Silver, 5th early, came out 5 wide for room to gain the lead at the 3/16 through 5/8 in 57.86, then drew off to win by 2 1/4 lengths over late-running 7-1 Harbour Island in 1:10.03. It was another 2 1/2 lengths back to Indian Brava third.

Winning trainer Bret Calhoun said, "I think this filly might be a little better coming from farther off of it. She's very versatile, and the outside post allowed us to run that kind of race. When Cliff (Berry) got clear, she accelerated."

Results Chart from DRF.

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