06/17/2013 3:28PM

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.

Con MacCarthy More than 1 year ago
Unforunately for Wilcox when he has been just right he ran into Wise Dan,if that race had been at a 1 1/8th he may have caught him that day,reguardless very nice exacta with a 3/5 shot. Last month he caught a return winner on the Pimlico lawn(Broadcasters even missed that one),once again at a 1 1/8th he may have caught Skyring,the exacta paid boxcars. Wilcox Inn is quite the picture,his day will come sooner than later. If I had a suggestion I would get Edgar Prado,he'll be on the East Coast anyway.
Perl More than 1 year ago
I never figured Willcox Inn for a true stayer, but this is probably a good gamble by his connections. The competition is not as tough at this distance as in the 8-9f races this horse has been losing. He might just enjoy the stretchout. Hopefully Europe won't send any Group 3 horses over because that would probably get the job done.
Brandon Layer More than 1 year ago
It's completely stupid for the United Nations and The Man O War to be run so close. Both are a mile and three eighths, grade one and almost the same purse. That means both races share horses so neither is as strong or deep as they could be. Monmouth should make the UN a mile. They would get a great field and would have to share horses with the MOW
Brandon Layer More than 1 year ago
WOULDN'T not would
jimf552 More than 1 year ago
I certainly agree with the failure to coordinate races but dropping the UN to a mile then creates a similar problem with the Poker run at a mile the same weekend. The UN is Monmouth's only other grade I and NYRA should back off. Also, the distance is 3 turns everywhere except Belmont.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
The UN is the older race of the two and should hold sway in any court... That the Man O War was moved from the Fall at Belmont is another casualty of the Bleeders Cup mess.