01/28/2012 6:27PM

Oaklawn: Riley Tucker scores in King Cotton

Coady Photography/Oaklawn Park
Riley Tucker, with Cliff Berry aboard, wins for the first time since 2010 in the King Cotton.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark.- Riley Tucker pushed past $600,000 in career earnings Saturday at Oaklawn Park, when he outdueled Hamazing Destiny for a 1 1/4-length win in the $50,000 King Cotton Stakes. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back in third to River Bear.

The King Cotton was the first of two local preps for the Grade 3, $200,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn on April 14.

Riley Tucker ($11) and Hamazing Destiny went to the lead soon after the start of the King Cotton, and raced through an opening quarter in 22.97 seconds. The pair continued to move as a team through a half-mile in 46.72. Riley Tucker began to establish an advantage in the stretch, and went on to cover the distance on a track rated fast in 1:11.15.

Cliff Berry, who was aboard Riley Tucker for trainer Steve Asmussen, said the horse’s  inside draw played a role in dictating tactics for the King Cotton.

“We were in the one-hole and there wasn’t a lot of speed in there for a speed stakes,” Berry said. “He broke sharp. He broke like he was going to win.”

The King Cotton was Riley Tucker’s first win since a September 2010 allowance score at Parx Racing. One month later, he finished second in the Grade 1 Vosburgh at Belmont Park. Riley Tucker came into the King Cotton off a third-place finish in an allowance at Fair Grounds on Dec. 26. He has now won 7 of 38 starts and $625,566.

The King Cotton was the second career stakes win for Riley Tucker behind the Grade 3 Aristides in May 2010. He is a 7-year-old horse by Harlan’s Holiday and races for Zayat Stables.