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Racing Dudes Three Stars of the Week: Oaklawn Park On Top Yet Again
Credit: Coady Photography

Racing Dudes Three Stars of the Week: Oaklawn Park On Top Yet Again

Oaklawn Park once again took center stage with both of the weekend’s stakes events as the Hot Springs, Arkansas, track continues to lead the way during the pandemic. Let’s take a look at who made our latest Three Stars of the Week: 

1. Ce Ce

With Santa Anita Park’s racing calendar currently on hold due to the pandemic, several of the top southern California horses have shipped to Oaklawn Park in search of paychecks, and with generally great results. Trainer Michael McCarthy was the latest to do so, sending Ce Ce east for the Apple Blossom Handicap (G1). Even though she drew the far outside 14 post, she broke very cleanly and jockey Victor Espinoza guided her into a good stalking position, just a few lanes off of the rail while within striking distance. Heading into the far turn, she ranged up and got close to the pacesetter Ollie’s Candy, who like Ce Ce is a Grade 1 winner based in California. The fast early fractions look like they cost Ollie’s Candy in the final stages, as Ce Ce surged past her late to win by a head. This was Ce Ce’s second Grade 1 win, as she took the Beholder Mile Stakes last time out. She now looks like one of the absolute best in horse racing’s toughest division.

2. Whitmore

Following this past weekend, it’s safe to say that Whitmore is one of the greatest horses to ever race and win at Oaklawn Park. On Saturday, he became the first in history to win the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) three times. Breaking in mid-pack early, Whitmore waited along the outside in sixth as the front-runners commenced a sharp pace duel. Looming three-wide in the far turn, Whitmore edged ahead at the top of the stretch and had more than enough left to hold off Flagstaff to win. After he retires, they should change the race name to the Whitmore Handicap. With seven total stakes wins at Oaklawn Park, he is now the winningest stakes horse in the course’s history. 

3. Merneith

A highly-hyped filly from Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert found out on Sunday that the third time’s the charm, breaking her maiden in the slop after a pair of second-place finishes to start her career. Sent off from the far outside post 12 as the 4/5 favorite, Merneith sat just behind the early leaders heading into the far turn, then effortlessly took command midway through and emerged at the top of the stretch well ahead of the rest. From there, jockey Martin Garcia simply had to not fall off as Merneith became the first foal of the 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah to win at Oaklawn Park. It’s evident that races in the slop may be her specialty.  

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