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Wells Bayou Continues Comeback in Oaklawn Mile
Wells Bayou (Credit: Coady Photography)

Wells Bayou Continues Comeback in Oaklawn Mile

HOT SPRINGS, AR – As a star wide receiver during the mid-1980s at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, Lance Gasaway is aware of injuries and the lengthy down time between seasons. Wells Bayou, co-owned by Gasaway and his father, Clint, is an equine reminder of that.

A year ago, Wells Bayou was coming off a victory in the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds and headed for the Kentucky Derby. Then COVID-19 hit, the Kentucky Derby was moved to September, Wells Bayou finished a disappointing fifth in the second division of the rescheduled $500,000 Arkansas Derby (G1) in May at Oaklawn and bone bruising sidelined the Lookin At Lucky colt for the remainder of 2020.

Wells Bayou, who is trained by Brad Cox, is scheduled to make just his second start since the Arkansas Derby in the $400,000 Oaklawn Mile for older horses Saturday at Oaklawn.

“It’s been a long, drawn-out year for Wells,” Lance Gasaway said Wednesday afternoon.

The speedy Wells Bayou, in his only start this year, ran third in the $125,000 Louisiana Stakes (G3) January 16 at Fair Grounds. Wells Bayou was scratched from the $200,000 Mineshaft Stakes (G3) February 13 at Fair Grounds because of a minor illness, Gasaway said, then missed the $500,000 Essex Handicap March 13 at Oaklawn with a foot issue.

“Just been one thing after another with him,” Gasaway said. “It’s horrible. We were worried about getting him back. Brad had told me: ‘He said Lance, I don’t know if we’re going to make it back, like in December.’ He just got so big. He grew so much and put so much weight on, I think it just took longer to get him in shape. Really felt good after that Louisiana Stakes. Actually, the week before the Mineshaft, he worked a :59.80 (5 furlongs) down there and Brad said, ‘Hey, he’s ready.’ We really thought we had a shot to beat Maxfield. Really did. He was training that well, then had to lay him off a month with all that other crap.”

Wells Bayou returned to Oaklawn last Sunday, according to Jorgito Abrego, who oversees Cox’s local division. Wells Bayou made 3 starts last year in Hot Springs, recording a powerful first-level allowance victory in his two-turn debut before finishing second in the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) and fifth behind Nadal in the second division of the Arkansas Derby.

“To be honest with you, this race, Brad thinks this is just going to be another conditioning race,” Gasaway said. “In fact, we’re still a race away from getting him back like he was. But it’s a shorter race, so we decided to give it a go. Hopefully, we’ll run good.”

The Gasaways, who grew up and still reside in southeast Arkansas, purchased Wells Bayou on the advice of bloodstock agent Liz Crow (BSW/Crow Bloodstock) for $105,000 at the 2019 Ocala Breeders’ Sales March 2-year-old in training sale. Crow brokered a deal before the Louisiana Derby to bring in BSW/Crow clients Sol Kumin (Madaket Stables) and Marc Lore (Wonder Stables) as partners in the bay son of champion Lookin At Lucky.

Clint Gasaway named Wells Bayou after a small community about 70 miles southeast of Little Rock.

Overall, Wells Bayou has a 3-1-1 record from 7 lifetime starts and earnings of $872,793. Wells Bayou (4-/1 on the morning line) is among nine horses entered in the Oaklawn Mile. Probable post time for the Oaklawn Mile, the ninth of 13 races, is 4:49 PM (Central).

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