06/17/2013 4:28PM

Arlington Park: Willcox Inn will try for a Grade 1 in United Nations

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Barbara D. Livingston
Willcox Inn has earned more than $800,000 and won multiple graded stakes, but has never won a Grade 1.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – With multiple graded stakes wins on turf and more than $835,000 in career earnings, 5-year-old Willcox Inn already has put together a fine career on the racetrack. The possibility of a post-racing stallion career, though, is helping shape his summer campaign.

Willcox Inn’s best form has come in races between one mile and 1 1/8 miles, but there is a good chance he will next appear July 6 at Monmouth Park in the 1 3/8-mile United Nations Stakes. The U.N. carries a purse of $500,000, but perhaps equally appealing to Willcox Inn’s connections is the race’s Grade 1 status.

“We’re nominated to the Colonial Turf Cup this weekend, but we’re probably pointing to the U.N., even though its farther than he’s run,” trainer Mike Stidham said. “If he has a shot of having a stallion career – and that might not be in this country, anyway – he has to win a Grade 1. We’re hoping that with a little maturity, he can get the added distance.”

Willcox Inn, owned by Lael Stable and All In Stable, is by Harlan’s Holiday and out of the good broodmare De Aar. His biggest win came in the 2011 Grade 2 American Derby, and Willcox Inn is winless this year, but he has been knocking on the door. He finished a close second to the sharp Amira’s Prince in the Grade 2 Mervin Muniz Handicap on March 30 and was done in by a speed-biased Pimlico turf course when second by a half-length to Skyring in the Grade 2 Dixie on Preakness Day.

“He’s been training great,” said Stidham, who sent Willcox Inn through a five-furlong Polytrack work in 1:01.40 on Sunday. “If he were to run well at Monmouth, we’d take another try in the Million.”

Willcox Inn, not yet in peak form last summer, finished eighth in the 2012 Arlington Million.

Stidham has a 3-year-old for this year’s American Derby: Dorsett punched his ticket to the race with an eye-catching first-level allowance win over older horses Saturday. Rating kindly behind a moderate pace, Dorsett attacked before the quarter pole and rolled to 2 3/4-length victory going 1 1/8 miles.

“He did what he had to do in order for us to think he could be live in the American Derby,” Stidham said.

Dorsett, an Artie Schiller colt, has won 2 of 5 grass starts. He finished third by one length in the May 25 Arlington Classic, but was disqualified to fourth for stretch interference. That disqualification is under appeal.