A stakes-quality field will be chasing a hefty $93,000 purse in Sunday's featured eighth race at Oaklawn Park, a conditioned allowance for older horses at a mile.
The race could be a springboard to the inaugural $250,000 Oaklawn Mile May 3 for several entrants, including 3-1 program favorite Exclamation Point. Also entered are millionaire Shotgun Kowboy, stakes winners Malibu Max and Lone Rock, Phat Man, runner-up in the $200,000 Super Derby in 2017 at Louisiana Downs, and multiple stakes-placed Petrov.
“This is the Oaklawn Mile light,” said Ron Moquett of Hot Springs, who co-owns and trains Petrov, the 7-2 second choice in the program. “Everybody in there, it's just a test run for the Oaklawn Mile. I think the top four finishers will be in it.”
Co-owner Staton Flurry of Hot Springs said Exclamation Point was originally being pointed for the $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes April 14 before being re-routed to Sunday's race. If all goes well, Exclamation Point would then make his stakes debut in the Oaklawn Mile.
“We'll be able to run two races instead of just one,” Flurry said in a text message. “Maximize opportunities.”
A 4-year-old half-brother to champion and 2017 Arkansas Derby winner Classic Empire, Exclamation Point has won 4 of 5 career starts, including a maiden special weights sprint and first-level allowance in his two-turn debut last year at Oaklawn for trainer Brad Cox.
Exclamation Point also races for his breeders, Steve and Brandi Nicholson.
Petrov is a stakes veteran, going through Oaklawn's four-race Kentucky Derby points series in 2017. He returns to a two-turn race for the first time since finishing fifth in the $250,000 Iowa Derby (G3) in July 2017 at Prairie Meadows.
Despite never winning a stakes race, Petrov has bankrolled $555,307 with five victories from 20 career starts. Moquett said the Oaklawn Mile is the major spring objective for Petrov, who hasn't started since finishing sixth in the $200,000 Bold Ruler Handicap (G3) Nov. 2 at Aqueduct.
“We're going to be very versatile,” Moquett said. “That's what's great about having a horse like him. He's made a half-million dollars and never been committed to one thing. He's just good enough to hit 'em where they ain't.”
Probable post time for Sunday's eighth race is 4:42 p.m. (Central).
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