HOT SPRINGS, AR – Robert LaPenta and Head of Plains Partners’ Coal Front bolted out of his stall like a rocket to gain good position, waited for the perfect moment to pounce, then held on late to take Monday’s Grade 3, $500,000 Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn Park.
Breaking from the far outside post 14 under John Velazquez as the 6/5 favorite, Coal Front blitzed past most of his foes and found himself riding comfortably in the two-path heading into the clubhouse turn. Just to his inside, All Out Blitz posted opening fractions of :22.78, :46.59, and 1:11.84. Moving up alongside the pacesetter to take the lead in the far turn, Coal Front turned for home with the lead but soon found himself a game Copper Bullet. The two engaged in midstretch but Coal Front proved to be too tough, finding the wire just before getting caught. The Todd Pletcher trainee’s neck victory came in a final time of 1:43.45 for the 1 1/16-mile event over the fast main track.
“He broke sharp and then I was able to give him a little break to get him off somebody,” Velazquez said. “It worked out perfect.”
A late bid from the rear propelled Rated R Superstar up to third by 2 lengths over Sonneteer, who fell victim to a poor trip but was still able to close into fourth by a 1/2-length over a weakened All Out Blitz. Souper Tapit took sixth by 3/4 of a length over Nun the Less, with Remembering Rita a 1/2-length behind them in eighth. Rocking the Boat, M G Warrior, Nanoosh, Lone Rock, Thirstforlife, and Tiz He the One completed the order of finish.
Coal Front’s win was his second straight following the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector Stakes at Gulfstream Park on December 22. The 5-year-old ridgling son of Stay Thirsty improved his record to 8-6-0-0 with $777,280 earned.
““We were a little concerned when we saw the post, but the real key to his success today was getting away cleanly and getting a good position going into the first turn,” Pletcher said. “Had to go a little quick to get to the first turn, but turning up the backside, he relaxed nicely.”
Coal Front returned $4.60 to win, $4 to place, and $3.20 to show. Copper Bullet brought back $5.20 to place and $4.60 to show, while Rated R Superstar paid $15.40 to show.