Will’s Secret, Court Upset Coach To Earn Kentucky Oaks Points In Martha Washington

Rallying wide into the stretch under veteran Jon Court, Will Horton Racing LLC’s homebred Will’s Secret won Saturday’s $200,000 Martha Washington Stakes on a muddy track at Oaklawn in Hot Springs, Ark. Coach, the 4-5 favorite from the Brad Cox barn, finished 5 1/4 lengths back in second, with Joy’s Rocket third and Sylvia Q fourth in the field of six 3-year-olds competing for 17 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points (10-4-2-1 to the top four finishers).

A 3-year-old Kentucky-bred by Will Take Charge, who won an Eclipse Award for Horton as champion 3-year-old male in 2013, Will’s Secret is trained by Dallas Stewart. He covered one mile on a muddy track in 1:38.7 and paid $18 to win.

Court allowed Will’s Secret to sit in the pocket just behind pacesetter Joy’s Rocket, who was engaged by Lady Lilly and Sylvia Q through much of the Martha Washington. Fractions were :23.1, :47.35 and 1:12.37 for the first six furlongs.

Court Will’s Secret to the outside on the far turn, rallying around the three frontrunners and was four wide into the stretch. Lady Lilly was the first to yield, with Sylvia Q then dropping back. That left Joy’s Rocket on the lead, and Will’s Secret quickly put her away and drew off for the win. Coach was up late to get the runner-up spot under Florent Geroux by a half length over Joy’s Rocket.

“The strategy was to not let the speed separate from us and keep them within striking distance, just because it is a short stretch, short run to the wire,” Court said. “I was keeping that in mind and mindful that these horses do have speed that carries. They’ve shown it already and proven that they can win wire-to-wire, or right there off the pace. If they created too much separation and left too much for her to do, there’s a chance I might not catch that speed. She rallied up to get on by them.”

“I was a little worried about it, honestly, because it was only a mile,” winning trainer Dallas Stewart said by phone from his New Orleans base. “She runs the stretch really, really good. I was a little worried. She had been going a mile and a sixteenth. I just worried about shortening her up because it can be a little tricky sometimes. Obviously, she’s a lot smarter than me.”

The Martha Washington win was the second in the race for owner Willis Horton of Marshall, Ark., after also winning the 2015 edition with Take Charge Brandi. It was also his second stakes victory in a week after winning the Fifth Season Stakes last Saturday with Silver State.

Live racing resumes Sunday at Oaklawn with a 1 p.m. CT first post.

The post Will’s Secret, Court Upset Coach To Earn Kentucky Oaks Points In Martha Washington appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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