Oaklawn Handicap 2023 & Valley of The Vapors Stakes Recap

The feature event at Oaklawn Park on Saturday produced a finish to remember, as Proxy came flying down the lane to snatch the Oaklawn Handicap 2023 by a head from the battling Last Samurai and Stilleto Boy. Proxy’s jockey Joel Rosario was completing a big-race double after Merlazza had made her stakes breakthrough in the ungraded Valley of the Vapors.

Oaklawn Handicap

Proxy prevails in a thriller, G2, $1,000,000, 1m 1f dirt, 4yo+

In the sort of flying finish that features in end-of-year highlights reels, Proxy got up in the last two strides to pass Last Samurai and Stilleto Boy and win the Oaklawn, the million-dollar main event at the Hot Springs track on Saturday.

Those who had bet the five-year-old down to 7-2 third-choice may have felt like tearing up their tickets when Proxy came widest of all into the lane under a strong drive, with long-time leader Stilleto Boy and Last Samurai going hard for the wire down by the rail, but then the race changed.

Joel Rosario began to get a tune from Proxy, and he rallied like a champ through the final eighth to steal it at the wire by a head from Last Samurai, who nosed Stilleto Boy into the show spot. The surprise favorite Charge It flattened out in the stretch, finishing a well-beaten fifth.

“He doesn’t like dirt in his face and he doesn’t like the whip,” said trainer Michael Stidham. “Joel did the right thing keeping him wide. Sometimes he’s a hard watch, the way he can lose interest, but he got there in time today.”

This improved Proxy’s generally near-miss resume to five-for-16 and set Stidham dreaming about a tilt at the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park in the fall. The G1 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs on July 1 is likely to be the first big summer target for the Godolphin homebred.

Oaklawn Handicap Race Payouts

HorseWinPlaceShow
1. Proxy9.404.002.80
2. Last Samurai 3.602.60
3. Stilleto Boy  3.00

Winning time: 1m 49.68s

Oaklawn Handicap Race Video

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Proxy wins the 2023 Oaklawn Handicap#Horseracing #Horseracingtips #Horsesoftiktok #Horses #Horse #FYP #Sports

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Valley of The Vapors Stakes

Merlazza shows no mercy, ungraded, $150,000, 1m dirt, 3yo fillies

Joel Rosario pulled off another late-show triumph when bringing Merlazza with a well-timed rally to take the Valley of the Vapors, the hot favorite running down Pink Ace and Exponential Star to make her stakes breakthrough.

The rank outsider Pink Ace had been allowed to do her own thing out front and still held a healthy lead in mid-stretch, but Rosario was listening to the clock in his head and timed his challenge perfectly on the 3-5 favorite, surging past the front-runner to score by a length, with the willing Exponential Star a neck back in third.

Merlazza, a Brad Cox-trained daughter of Medaglia D’Oro, was unraced as a juvenile and was taking her winning streak to three, and is only a head away from being unbeaten after a narrow defeat on her debut.

Valley of the Vapors Stakes Payouts

HorseWinPlaceShow
1. Merlazza3.202.602.20
2. Pink Ace 25.209.00
3. Exponential Star  4.20

Winning time: 1m 40.75s

Valley of the Vapors Stakes Race Video

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Merlazza takes the 2023 Valley of the Vapors Stakes #Horseracing #Horseracingtips #Horsesoftiktok #Horses #Horse #FYP #Sports

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