HOT SPRINGS, AR – Calumet Farm’s homebred Sonneteer, written off by bettors as a 29-1 afterthought, charged late to take home Friday’s $125,000 Fifth Season Stakes on Opening Day at Oaklawn Park.
Off from post 10 under C.J. McMahon, Sonneteer settled near the rear while Dan The Go To Man and Futile took turns setting splits of :23.47, :47.14, and 1:12.05. Heading into the far turn, Sonneteer began making his move around the outside of slower horses, then swung six-wide at the top of the stretch while still in eighth. With less than a furlong remaining, Sonneteer cleared the pack to his inside and lugged in as he chased down Futile, catching him at the 1/16-pole. The Keith Desormeaux-trained 4-year-old dug in and beat Futile to the line by 3/4 of a length in a final time of 1:45.40 for the 8 1/2-furlong dirt race.
“Mr. Keith gave me a call from California and just told me to just let him break and let him do his thing, you know, let him be a horse,” McMahon said. “That’s what I did. He broke, and when I took a hold of him down the backside, he took off with me at the same time. It was off to the races from there.”
Far Right used his rail draw to save ground and then held onto third. Untrapped defeated Dazzling Gem by a neck after the two spent much of the pre-race battling for favoritism at the window. Royal Squeeze took sixth over Shotgun Kowboy, while Dan The Go To Man faded fast in the stretch run and finished eighth. Sightforsoreeyes, Sticksstatelydude, Chief Know It All, and Goats Town (who slammed into the gate at the start and never found his footing) completed the order of finish.
Sonneteer’s win was his first career stakes victory and improved his record to 18-2-4-4 with earnings of $426,050. The son of Midnight Lute had previously finished second in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes and fourth in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby in his pair of 2016 Oaklawn starts.
Sonneteer returned $61.60 to win, $24.20 to place, and $13.20 to show. Futile brought back $23 to place and $11.80 to show, while Far Right paid $13.60 to show.