Willcox Inn motored to a 2 ½-length victory in the $100,000 Arlington Classic May 28 to give the son of Harlan's Holiday his second win at the Chicago track. The Mike Stidham-trained 3-year-old covered the mile and a sixteenth over yielding turf in 1:49.51.
Harlan's Holiday has eight stakes winners in 2011, second among all active stallions in North America. His runners have bankrolled about $2.5 million for the year.
The Classic pace was set by Crimson Knight, who led through fractions of ;25.42, :51.88 seconds and 1:17.63 before giving way to finish fourth. Willcox Inn tracked the leader until mid-stretch, ultimately pulling away late to garner his first career stakes win.
“He broke really aggressive,” winning rider Robby Albarado said. “It was his first time with blinkers today and I kind of put him in the race up the backside. He may have been a little too keen today but when he settled midway he was fine and he came home very nice. I thought the pace was pedestrian. We were walking up the backside. I knew we’d finish up well it was just a matter if we were going to get by the other horse. He gave me every indication he was ready.”
The Arlington Classic was the second career victory for Willcox Inn, who broke his maiden at Arlington last year under the late Michael Baze, beating eventual Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom in the process.
“(Today’s win) was kind of special because Michael Baze broke his maiden on him first time out and we rode with his girths today,” Albarado added.
Willcox Inn earned $57,600 for the win, pushing his bankroll to $227,543. His earnings were boosted by several good finishes in stakes company over the last six months; he was third in both the Breeders' Futurity (G1) and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G2) and also second in the Grindstone S. at Fair Grounds.
Willcox Inn is out of De Aar, who placed in six stakes in her career. Her siblings include millionaires Dynaforce and Cetewayo, who both won graded stakes at Arlington Park, as well as Grade 2 winner Bowman Mill.