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HOT SPRINGS, AR – The Louisiana Derby (G2) champion Wells Bayou returned to the worktab for the first time on Monday, breezing 4 furlongs in :49.80 over an Oaklawn Park track rated good as he prepares for a potential start in the $750,000 Arkansas Derby (G1) on May 2.
In practically any other year, Wells Bayou would be making his next start in the Kentucky Derby (G1), having earned enough points to qualify for the Run for the Roses. However, after COVID-19 concerns forced the race’s postponement until September 5, trainer Brad Cox and father/son co-owners Clint and Lance Gasaway had to reroute their colt to another site.
“We’d love to win the Arkansas Derby,” Lance Gasaway recently told Oaklawn Park’s PR Department. “Everything now is all based on what they do with the (Triple Crown). We have no idea; we just don’t know. We want him here. Trust me, we want to run here in Arkansas. We love it here, but it’s like Brad always says: ‘You want to do what’s best for the horse.’ That’s what we’ve got to look at.”
Wells Bayou is no stranger to the Oaklawn Park backside. The 3-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky made his 2020 debut a winning one here on January 26 against allowance/optional claiming foes before running a game second in the Southwest Stakes (G3) just three weeks later. Rather than making yet another quick turnaround to appear in the Rebel Stakes (G2), Cox gave Wells Bayou an extra week of preparation before sending him to Fair Grounds to clinch the Louisiana Derby as the 3/1 favorite.
“I think Brad had always thought this horse had some talent,” said Liz Crow, who purchased Wells Bayou on behalf of the Gasaways for $105,000 at the March 2019 Ocala Breeders’ Sale. “I think from Day 1, he liked what he saw from him. Just saw an immature horse that needed to grow up, but kind of thought he had some talent. We weren’t surprised by his performance in the Southwest, but it was nice to see him step up to that class level and actually deliver that kind of performance.”
Wells Bayou carries a career record of 5-3-1-0 with $845,293 earned. He is the first foal out of the Hard Spun mare Whispering Angel, who won both of her turf starts and finished off the board in her lone dirt appearance.
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