Coming off a stylish win in a race where he could have been bought for a $100,000 claiming price Jan. 31, B J D Thoroughbred's Right To Vote earned his second straight victory in Saturday's $100,000 Essex Handicap before an on-track crowd of 22,965.
Ridden by 2013 leading jockey Ricardo Santana Jr., Right To Vote settled into second right after the break and tracked Jaguar Paw through the first half mile in :47 3/5. The winner assumed control at the top of the stretch and appeared to be on his way to an easy victory, but was put to the test when Street Spice and Voodoo Storm gave chase through the lane. Right To Vote prevailed late by a half-length over Street Spice, who was just a neck in front of Voodoo Storm. The winning time for 1 1/16 miles over a fast track was 1:44 4/5.
Trainer Ron Moquett said that Right To Vote would most likely be pointed toward the March 15 $200,000 Razorback Handicap.
“We're here, we're from Arkansas and we'd love to win the Razorback,” said Moquett.
Right To Vote, a 5-year-old Political Force gelding, improved his record to 6-2-4 from 18 starts and has now earned $325,124. He returned $8.80, $4.20, and $3.60 as the slight 3-1 favorite.
Two races later, Dream Farm LLC's Apprehender, making his first start since last April, made a triumphant return to win his second straight $100,000 King Cotton Stakes over last year's runner-up Alsvid.
Apprehender settled into to sixth place early as longshot Wildcat Country took the early lead through an opening half mile in 45 2/5. The winner made a five-wide move entering the stretch to gain the advantage and had no problem holding off his rival Alsvid by a half length at the wire. Black Bear, part of the even-money entry along with Alsvid, broke poorly and encountered traffic problems, but still managed to get up for third. The winner covered the six furlongs in 1:10.
Trainer Chris Richard had originally hoped to start Apprehender in an allowance race and had not originally entered him in the King Cotton that was postponed a week because of the weather, but when an allowance didn't go he decided to enter the stakes.
“I always think you should take advantage of a condition when you can, but this worked out,” said Richard. “It was a quality field. He's a really good horse.”
“He's a classy horse,” said jockey David Mello, who won three races on the card. “I knew I had a lot of horse at the top of the lane and if he gave me everything he had, we were going to be the winner.”
Apprehender, a 5-year-old Posse gelding, improved his career record to 6-3-1 from 14 starts and he has now earned $270,349. He returned $18.20, $6.20 and $4.80 after being overlooked at odds of 8 to 1.
Live racing at Oaklawn continues Sunday with a 1:30 p.m. first post. The main event is the $100,000 Bayakoa Stakes featuring the defending champ Don't Tell Sophia. There is a Classix Carryover of $37,770.
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