Durango Favored in Friday’s Dixie Belle Stakes on Opening Day at Oaklawn Park

Will Take Charge wins the 2013 Oaklawn Handicap

HOT SPRINGS, AR (Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016) – Durango has been installed the 2-1 program favorite for the $100,000 Dixie Belle Stakes for 3-year-old fillies Friday at Oaklawn. The 6-furlong Dixie Belle highlights a nine-race card, the first of 57 scheduled racing days this season. Probable post time is 3:49 p.m. (Central). First post Friday is 12:35 p.m.

Durango is trying to give trainer Randy Morse his second Dixie Belle victory, following Prospector’s Song in 1998. Purchased for $475,000 last year by prominent Texas automobile dealer Tom Durant, the filly has won 2 of 3 career starts – all last fall at Churchill Downs.

After finishing second in her Sept. 25 career debut, the daughter of First Samurai was a front-running maiden winner Nov. 1 and a first-level allowance winner Nov. 28.

“She’s pretty special, I believe,” Morse said. “Her only problem is when she makes the lead, she wants to pull up. That’s what the jocks say. She just makes the lead and she’s like, ‘It’s time to quit.’ ”

To try and correct that problem, Durango will race in blinkers for the first time Friday. She is scheduled to break from post 7 in the Dixie Belle under Quincy Hamilton.

“Hopefully, it will work,” Morse said.

The projected eight-horse field is completed by Eurodevilwoman, Above Fashion, Katalust, Alien Giant, Marquee Miss, Go Lady Jay and Don’t Boss Me.

Above Fashion (5-2 in the program) exits a 1 ¼-length victory in the $50,000 Letellier Memorial Stakes Dec. 19 at Fair Grounds.

Alien Giant (7-2) hasn’t started since finishing second in the $125,000 Landaluce Stakes June 21 at Santa Anita.

Marquee Miss (8-1) has lost three consecutive starts since a debut victory in the $75,000 Arlington-Washington Lassie Stakes Aug. 29 at Arlington Park.

“I’m very fond of this filly,” trainer Ingrid Mason said. “She’s just a really big horse. I don’t know what her best surface is, but I’ve had a lot of horses like her like this track.”

Source: Oaklawn Park

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