The highlight at Oaklawn Park on Saturday was undoubtedly the victory of Rated R Superstar in the Essex, with the popular nine-year-old making light of his advanced age to win the $500,000 feature in style. Earlier, the fleet-footed Bob’s Edge had come from last to first down the stretch to grab the spoils in the Whitmore Stakes.
Superstar rolls back the years
Age shall not weary them, and certainly not Rated R Superstar, who at the age of nine came running like a three-year-old to win the Essex, the feature event at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, for the second time and the first since its elevation to Graded level.
The old boy, coming to the races for the 59th time, was an 8-1 chance to strike a blow for the senior brigade and was positioned around six lengths off the early pace set by Thomas Shelby, who took them as far as the quarter-pole before Plainsman went to the lead.
But by then Rated R Superstar was on the move under David Cabrera, and while Plainsman and Thomas Shelby duelled on the rail Rated R Superstar swept into the lead down the center of the track and kicked on to win going away by two and a quarter lengths, stopping the clock in 1:43 and change. Plainsman held on for second, a neck ahead of the rallying Beau Luminarie.
This was the 11th victory of Rated R Superstar’s long career, and the first Graded success for his trainer Federico Villafranco. Connections feel he now deserves another shot at the $1 million G2 Oaklawn Handicap on April 23, in which he finished last of eight 12 months ago.
Bob has the edge
There was a thrilling finish to the Whitmore Stakes, renamed and upgraded this year, when Bob’s Edge came from last to first to land the spoils under Luis Quinonez and make his breakthrough at Graded level.
It certainly didn’t look likely when he trailed the field as favourite Hollis went to work on the front end, setting furious fractions that kept him in front to the top of the stretch. At that point Bob’s Edge still had six horses in front of him, but Quinonez took the 5-2 second-choice to the middle of the track and they came flying down the lane, gathering up the leaders inside the last sixteenth and rolling on to win by a length, in a time of 1:09 and two-fifths. Tulane Tryst came fast and late but not quite as fast to claim second spot, a length and three-quarters ahead of Greeley And Ben. Hollis ran out of gas, finishing fourth.
“We did think the race would set up for us,” said trainer Larry Jones. “Closers have run well today and it all played out great.”
Next stop for the four-year-old, who has now won three times over this course and distance and has never been off the board in six starts at Oaklawn, is likely to be the $500,000 G3 Count Fleet Sprint back here on April 16.
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