05/03/2013 3:36PM

Arlington Park notes: Willcox Inn to hit the road for Dixie Stakes

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Barbara D. Livingston
Willcox Inn will run next in the $300,000 Dixie Stakes on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico on May 18.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Mike Stidham, Arlington’s third-leading trainer by wins and earnings in 2012, is set up for another solid meeting this year, but his stable star, Willcox Inn, will be leaving Stidham’s string here to start in the $300,000 Dixie Stakes on May 18, Preakness Day at Pimlico.

Willcox Inn has won only once since July, and that came in an allowance race, but he has held his own with some of the best grass horses in North America.

Last October at Keeneland, he finished second to Wise Dan in the Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile, and in his most recent start, the Mervin Muniz Memorial Handicap on March 30 at Fair Grounds, Willcox Inn finished second by a half-length behind Amira’s Prince, the Bill Mott-trained Irish import who has won all four of his starts in the United States.

“When he’s in the right spot, he’s shown he can run with the best,” Stidham said. “I think as long as I’m careful where I place him and keep him off softer turf, he should have a good year.”

Stidham, with about 60 stalls at Arlington, typically stays active here in the maiden and allowance ranks, both on turf and Polytrack, and will soon start getting his 2013 2-year-olds geared up for summer races. In the nearer term, he said plans call for him to start the multiple stakes-winning 4-year-old Hammers Terror in the Hanshin Cup here May 25.

Geier’s sophomores to breeze

Weekend workouts will help determine plans for trainer Greg Geier’s pair of talented 3-year-olds, Fordubai and Street Spice.

Both horses last raced in the Illinois Derby, with Fordubai performing especially well when finishing second to Departing in his first two-turn race of 2013. Street Spice broke slowly, raced 12th in the early going, encountered traffic, and still ran on decently to finish fifth.

Both horses, bred and owned by Jim Tafel, were scheduled to work Saturday, but Geier could push their drills back a day if the weather turns too wet. Fordubai will work a standard half-mile, but Street Spice will breeze five furlongs from the gate while fitted for the first time with blinkers.

Fordubai, and perhaps Street Spice but to a lesser extent, still are being considered for the Preakness and Arlington Classic.

“We’ll wait until next week and see what happens,” Geier said.