Gray Attempt punched his Arkansas Derby ticket with a front-running 3 ¼-length victory over Hidden Ruler in the $125,000 Gazebo Stakes Saturday afternoon at Oaklawn.
Cutting back to a sprint after finishing a troubled 11th in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 18, Gray Attempt controlled the pace from the start under Jon Court and cruised home to win for the fourth time in six lifetime starts.
Trained by Jinks Fires of Hot Springs, Gray Attempt ran 6 furlongs over a fast track in 1:09.72 and paid $5.20 as the 8-5 favorite before an estimated crowd of 19,000.
Gray Attempt, in his two-turn debut, won the $150,000 Smarty Jones Jan. 25, Oaklawn's first Kentucky Derby points race. The gray son of Graydar came out of the Southwest with a hind-end problem, Fires said, after being bumped entering the first turn.
A three-time stakes winner, Gray Attempt has earned $261,366 for owner Dwight Pruett of Texarkana, Ark. The $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) is April 13.
Santana finished with five victories on the 10-race card, which produced $4,469,099 in total handle. Racing resumes Sunday at 1:30 p.m. (Central).
Winning trainer Jinks Fires, Gray Attempt – “He did everything we thought he could do today, and a little more. I was just hoping we didn't lose as much training after that race (Southwest) that he might come up a little empty on us then. But he didn't. The Arkansas Derby is next. We think he'll go farther than this. Time will tell.”
Winning jockey Jon Court – “He relaxed and I felt like he was ready to take two. I know he has some strong early speed but we needed something to finish with. So I was happy with the finish.”
Live racing resumes Sunday with a 1:30 p.m. first post.
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