04/06/2007 11:00PM

Lawyer Ron still perfect at Oaklawn

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Lawyer Ron knows his way around Oaklawn Park. He ran his record here to 4-for-4 on Saturday, with a commanding, four-length win in the Grade 2, $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap. The victory was Lawyer Ron's fourth in a stakes at Oaklawn, where last year he swept the track's series for 3-year-olds, including the Grade 2, $1 million Arkansas Derby.

The Handicap shared a card with the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap, which was won by Ermine ($8). The handicaps are part of the Racing Festival of the South, when nine stakes worth $2.8 million are run over the last week of the meet. The season closes April 14.

Lawyer Ron ($3) broke well in the mile and an eighth Handicap, and was taken back off the pace as Jonesboro moved to the lead and ran the opening quarter-mile in 23.38 seconds. Lawyer Ron was situated in fourth, racing outside of rivals as Jonesboro continued to lead through a half-mile in 47.65 seconds and six furlongs in 1:12.07. Lawyer Ron moved up on the final turn, took the lead into the stretch, and drew off, covering the distance over a fast track in 1:49.

"The key was getting him to relax early," said Edgar Prado, who rode Lawyer Ron for trainer Todd Pletcher. "Once he did that, the rest was easy. We sat right in behind the leaders. I finally let him go rather than keeping him under control too long.

"He moved past the leaders without any trouble, and when one of them stayed with us a couple of strides it did not bother me. I wasn't even moving my hands on him. He won without me ever using my whip."

Brother Bobby finished second at 39-1. It was another neck back in third to Boboman.

Lawyer Ron could be headed next to the Grade 1, $600,000 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park on May 28. Pletcher said earlier this week that is an option that has been discussed for the horse. Lawyer Ron earned $300,000 for the win in the Oaklawn, which was his 10th career victory from 20 starts. He has now earned more than $1.8 million. Lawyer Ron races for Stonewall Farms Racing and the Estate of James T. Hines Jr.

The remaining order of finish in the Oaklawn was Jonesboro in fourth, followed by McCann’s Mojave, Smokeyjonessutton, and Papi Chullo.

*Attendance on Saturday was 26,003. Handle on the 11-race card from all sources was $5,724,733.