Top Oklahoma-Bred Welder Preparing For Rare Out-Of-State Appearance At Oaklawn Park

Oaklawn will run two $1 million races Saturday (Apple Blossom and Oaklawn Handicap) and have a millionaire running in an allowance event when Welder makes a rare appearance outside Oklahoma for trainer Theresa Sue Luneack and owner Ra-Max Farms LLC.

Oklahoma-bred Welder is the 2-1 program favorite for the 10th race – the Oaklawn Handicap and Apple Blossom are bookends – a conditioned sprint for older horses. Welder will be making his first start since a Dec. 19, 2020, allowance victory at Remington Park. It was his record-tying 15th career victory at the Oklahoma City venue.

Luneack said the 8-year-old gray gelding was rerouted to Oaklawn after the $50,000 Highland Ice Stakes Tuesday at Will Rogers Downs near Tulsa was canceled because of lack of entries. Will Rogers is Welder’s home track and he is based just a couple of miles away.

“He’s fit, ready to run and ready to rock,” Luneack said after Welder galloped Thursday morning at Oaklawn under regular rider David Cabrera. “Jose Santos said, ‘Bring him to Oaklawn.’ I said, ‘Well, I’ll see what I can do.’ The race came up on the extras and it was a perfect fit.”

Santos is the agent for Cabrera. In Welder’s only Oaklawn appearance, he finished third, beaten two lengths by future Eclipse Award winner Whitmore, in the $150,000 Hot Springs Stakes for older sprinters in 2019. Welder is a legend in Oklahoma, amassing 15 career stakes victories between Remington Park and Will Rogers Downs and has a 26-5-4 mark from 38 starts overall and earnings of $1,204,042.

Luneack said Welder was under consideration for the $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) last Saturday at Oaklawn, but the gelding’s priority has always been Oklahoma.

“We try to help Oklahoma racing, so we really wanted to run in the Oklahoma stake,” Luneack said. “We passed on the Count Fleet because we were trying to promote Oklahoma, but obviously that didn’t work. He probably should have run in the Count Fleet.”

Luneack said Welder arrived Wednesday night for Saturday’s 6-furlong race, which has a $108,000 purse – roughly three times higher than his last start.

“It’s always a challenge for us,” Luneack said. “We don’t haul him a lot. But now that we have to be here three days prior, I actually think that might be to Welder’s advantage because he can come in and go to the racetrack to gallop and relax. Maybe a couple of trips to the track without racing will help him settle in a little better.”

The post Top Oklahoma-Bred Welder Preparing For Rare Out-Of-State Appearance At Oaklawn Park appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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