HOT SPRINGS, AR – Wes Hawley and Stephan Smoot’s Hawaakom skimmed and squeezed all along the front stretch rail en route to his first career graded stakes score in Monday’s Grade 3, $500,000 Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn Park.
Off well from post 3 under Corey Lanerie, Hawaakom settled to the inside mid-pack while Rocking the Boat and Futile dueled on the front-end through splits of :24.02, :48.52, and 1:13.04. Commencing an inside move through the far turn, Hawaakom hit the top of the stretch in fifth and closing on the leaders. Lanerie’s patience was rewarded when he found an opening just big enough between Rocking the Boat and the rail, and ran through it in a move reminiscent of Lanerie’s late run along the rail in the 2017 Kentucky Derby aboard Lookin At Lee. With nothing but mud ahead of him, Hawaakom drew away convincingly to win by 3 1/4 lengths in a final time of 1:45.14 for the 1 1/16-mile race.
“Lanerie up the rail!” exclaimed Hawley, who trains in addition to his co-owner duties and broke his graded stakes maiden with the victory. “I couldn’t believe it. What a great ride. This was a game-changer. This was huge. This was my biggest career win.”
Leofric was riding a four-race win streak at Oaklawn into the event and initially held the lead at the top of the stretch, but Hawaakom’s romp left him settling for second, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Rocking the Boat. The favored Untrapped took fourth after a jockey’s objection against Leofric for interference in the stretch was ultimately disallowed. Futile took fifth, while R Rated Superstar nosed out sixth over The Lieutenant. The remainder of the field was, in order, Far Right, Shotgun Kowboy, Sonneteer, and J Boys Echo.
Hawaakom’s victory was his first since taking the Louisiana Stakes on January 21, 2017, at Fair Grounds. The 8-year-old gelded son of Jazil improved his record to 40-9-7-8 with career earnings of $925,405.
“I had a great trip, you know,” Lanerie said. “The horse fits the trip really well. He loves the inside. A couple times, I came to a couple holes I was a little scared of, but my horse showed me all the courage and never hesitated, and he did all the work.”
Hawaakom returned $20.80 to win, $8.20 to place, and $6.20 to show. Leofric brought back $5 to place and $4.60 to show, while Rocking the Boat paid $10.80 to show.