04/15/2016 5:16PM

Counterforce rallies to win Bachelor Stakes

Coady Photography
Counterforce, ridden by Florent Geroux, wins the Bachelor Stakes by two lengths Friday.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Counterforce might not be unbeaten, as trainer Steve Asmussen believes he should be, but now he’s a stakes winner, as he benefited from a scalding early pace and rallied to win the $150,000 Bachelor Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters on Friday at Oaklawn Park.

Counterforce ($9) came into the race with just two starts – a debut win against maidens and a narrow loss against allowance runners. Though he was giving away experience to five of his six rivals, he got an ideal race shape, as four of the runners shaded 22 seconds during an opening quarter in 21.50 seconds.

Florent Geroux, the jockey on Counterforce, watched it all unfold from sixth place, saved ground on the far turn, then gradually angled Counterforce off the rail through the lane. He reeled in pacesetters I Will Score and Will Munnings with a sixteenth to go and pulled away to win by two lengths.

I Will Score, the 3-2 favorite, did the best of those near the early pace, holding on for second after tracking that fast opening quarter and a quick half in 44.80 seconds.

Texas Chrome closed from last in the seven-horse field to be third. Morning Fire was fourth and was followed by Will Munnings, Force It, and Titanium Point.

Counterforce completed six furlongs on the fast main track in 1:10.68. He gave Geroux his first win at Oaklawn Park.

“He let me put him exactly where I wanted to put him,” Geroux said.

Counterforce, a colt by Smart Strike owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds, only made his debut on March 5, so this was his third start in six weeks.

“He’s had three pretty hard races in a short amount of time,” Asmussen said. “He’ll go a little farther next time. He’ll go to Churchill Downs, but it’ll be a little bit before he runs back.”