The big horse is back! After dominating the older male division at Oaklawn last year Cyber Secret has returned for another run at Oaklawn, and will be running on opening weekend in the Fifth Season Stakes. Last year he went four for four at Oaklawn, including victories in the Razorback and Oaklawn Handicap. In the Oaklawn Handicap he defeated a very deep field that included Breeders Cup Classic winner Fort Larned, so you can see how well he likes Oaklawn Park. Cyber Secret comes into this the meet off a track record-setting performance at Turfway Park where he easily won the Prairie Bayou Stakes by almost five lengths. Of course all the winning is not the only reason Cyber Secret it so popular at Oaklawn Park. He is owned by track owner Charles Cella, and trained by long time Oaklawn trainer Lynn Whiting. Those two have combined to have nice success at Oaklawn, but Cyber Secret has been their most successful horse in recent years. Jockey Robby Albarado will have the mount in the Fifth Season Stakes this Saturday.
While Cyber Secret may be the best horse when running at Oaklawn, perhaps the best horse in the country is stabled at the D Wayne Lukas barn. Will Take Charge will be the runaway winner of the Three Year Old Horse of the Year award, and has already defeated the top older horses in the country. The massive chestnut won the Travers, Pennsylvania, and Clark Handicap recently, and lost the Breeders Cup Classic by the smallest of margins. If he had pulled off the victory in that race, it is possible the horse could have won Horse of the Year honors. Oaklawn Park has been friendly to the him as well, as he won the Smarty Jones and Rebel Stakes last year. He’s been training steadily at Oaklawn, but the major question is whether or not the horse will actually run here. He’s scheduled to run in the Santa Anita Handicap, and possibly the Donn Handicap, but its not certain if he’ll race at Oaklawn. Lukas recently said if Will Take Charge were to run at Oaklawn it would probably be in the Oaklawn Handicap, which is ran on closing day. A Cyber Secret-Will Take Charge matchup would be a great way to close out the meet, and could actually overshadow the Arkansas Derby.
Surprisingly an old Oaklawn legend has returned for yet another year of racing. Who am I referring to….Win Willy of course! No matter what this horse does, he will never be forgotten for what he’s done over his career at Oaklawn. The now millionaire horse shocked the world on two separate occasions at Oaklawn, and is a fan favorite of everyone in the area. He defeated the then number one ranked three-year old Old Fashioned in the 2009 Rebel Stakes at long odds, and then captured the Oaklawn Handicap over top ranked older horse Misremembered in 2011. However, that was Win Willy’s last victory at Oaklawn so there is reason to believe he may have lost a step or two. Last year was especially disappointing as the horse managed three third places finishes in four starts over the track. He did win his last race of the year at Delaware Park, but that was in June so he will be coming off a long layoff when he runs at Oaklawn. All that put aside it’s still great to see him back.
Cyber Secret, Win Willy, and Will Take Charge will be the most talked about horses of this division, but a horse by the name at Taptowne will be flying under the radar. This horse has quietly been one of the more consistent older runners in this part of the country. Last year he finished second in the Oaklawn Handicap, second in the Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows, and second in the Ack Ack Handicap at Churchill Downs. He also was able to pick up two ungraded stakes win in the West Virginia Governor’s Cup and Swatara Stakes. On top of that, he hit the board in nine of ten races last year so you can clearly see how consistent this horse has been. Perhaps he can finally break through and become a graded stakes winner at Oaklawn this year.
The distance horses will always get the most attention, but you can’t forget about the sprinters this year. Gentlemen’s Bet comes in fresh off a strong third place effort in the Breeders Cup Sprint, and will obviously be the horse to beat in this division. The horse captured the Iowa Sprint Handicap over Delaunay last year as well, and was a close third in the Grade 1 Vanderbilt at Saratoga. He also had success at Oaklawn winning two allowance races, and finishing third in the Grade 3 Count Fleet. Two other horses to watch are returning Oaklawn Stakes winners Laurie’s Rocket and Apprehender. Laurie’s Rocket won the Hot Springs Stakes last year, and hit the board in many other Graded stakes throughout the year before getting tired. Apprehender won the King Cotton Stakes to open up the sprint season at Oaklawn, but had a case of the hives and was never quite the same. He hasn’t raced since Oaklawn, but has been on the workout tab four times. When you add these two divisions together you can easily see that the older male division will be one of the major highlights of the meet!