Warrior's Charge returned to the track on a frosty Friday morning at Oaklawn to begin preparations for his next major local target, the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses at 1 1/8 miles April 18.
Whether the bulk of the preparation is at Oaklawn or Fair Grounds remains to be seen.
“Don't know,” trainer Brad Cox said just as the track opened for training. “Honestly, I don't.”
In his 4-year-old debut, Warrior's Charge recorded his biggest career victory to date in Monday's $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) – a major steppingstone to the Oaklawn Handicap – in wire-to-wire fashion under Florent Geroux. Warrior's Charge, who edged Bankit by a head, had previously been based at Fair Grounds, where he was a Dec. 18 allowance winner.
“I don't think he has to be on the lead,” said Cox, who trains Warrior's Charge for Ten Strike Racing and Madaket Stables LLC. “I think he can sit off horses.”
Oaklawn's next major two-turn race for older horses is the $350,000 Essex Handicap March 14. Cox said he plans to be represented in that 1 1/16-mile race by Night Ops, a Feb. 9 allowance winner for prominent Arkansas automobile dealer Steve Landers. Night Ops finished second in last year's $300,000 Oaklawn Invitational and third in the first division of the $100,000 Fifth Season Stakes Jan. 25. The Fifth Season is Oaklawn's first major two-turn race for older horses.
Cox's horses normally walk the shed row three days following a race. Also returning to the track Friday morning were Wells Bayou and Answer In, second and third, respectively, in Monday's $750,000 Southwest Stakes for 3-year-olds. Cox said both horses are candidates for the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) March 14, Oaklawn's third of four Kentucky Derby points races.
Cox said Warrior's Charge, Wells Bayou and Answer In all came out of Monday's races in good order physically.
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