02/13/2011 8:42PM

Kate's Main Man extends Morse's hot hand by winning Essex

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Jeff Coady/ Coady Photography
Kate's Main Man, under Calvin Borel, holds off Win Willy to take the Essex Handicap.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark.-  Leading trainer Randy Morse can do no wrong this meet at Oaklawn Park. His stable’s top older horse, Kate’s Main Man, held off a furious rally by Win Willy  in  the $100,000 Essex Handicap on Sunday. Kate’s Main Man won by three-quarters of a length, while Win Willy finished second by a length over Stachys.

Kate’s Main Man ($7.60) has been the speed of the local handicap ranks this meet. He assumed command of the Essex soon after the start, and set a controlled pace under Calvin Borel. Kate’s Main Man was up by a length through an opening quarter in 24.39 seconds, a half-mile in 48.37, and six furlongs in 1:13.

“I felt good in the middle of the [final] turn,” Morse said. “The second flight wasn’t coming and Win Willy was far back.”

Win Willy began his bid in the stretch, closing up the rail as Kate’s Main Man continued to lead the field. At that point, Morse said he was doing all he could from the grandstand for Kate’s Main Man.

“I ran with him from the eighth pole to the wire,” he joked.

Kate’s Main Man covered 1 1/16 miles  on a track upgraded to fast in 1:45.12.

Morse has gone 8 for 21 with his starters this meet to lead the standings by two wins. Randy Patterson, a businessman from Kansas, owns Kate’s Main Man and with the win Sunday moved into a tie atop  the Oaklawn owner standings. The Essex was Patterson’s first stakes win at the Hot Springs track from two such starts. Last month, his Kate’s Main Man set the pace in the Fifth Season and was edged on the wire by Win Willy.  

Morse said Kate’s Main Man will be considered for a start in the Grade 3, $100,000 Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn on March 12. But he also noted the horse, who was bred in Iowa, is eligible for some rich restricted stakes this summer at Prairie Meadows.  

Patterson claimed Kate’s Main Man for $35,000. The horse picked up $60,000 for his win in the Essex. Morse also won the race in 2007 with Jonesboro.

Kate’s Main Man, a 6-year-old by Bernstein, has now won 11 of 41 starts and $476,957.