02/06/2010 1:00AM

Racing Bran all the way in Essex

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Racing Bran was a dangerous horse to leave alone on the lead in the at Oaklawn Park on Saturday. He came into the race with an 8-for-21 record, and he goes home a stakes winner after he dictated the terms throughout for a 4 1/4-length win over the 4-5 favorite, Win Willy. It was another neck back to Prom Shoes in third.

Racing Bran ($24.80) moved to the lead soon after the start and was clear by two lengths through an opening quarter-mile in 24.18 seconds. He proceeded to maintain his advantage through a half-mile in 49.11 seconds and six furlongs in 1:14.34. In the stretch he rolled under jockey Chris Emigh, covering the 1 1/16 miles on a track rated good in 1:46.13.

"He finished strong," said Scott Becker, who trains Racing Bran for William Stiritz.

The Essex set up a little differently than anticipated, with several front-runners in the field instead stalking Racing Bran.

"I maybe expected him to sit second or third off of Spotsgone and Crook's Bodgit," said Becker.

But once Racing Bran took command early, there was no challenge to him late. Becker said the horse will be considered next for a start in the Grade 3, $150,000 Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn on March 6.

* Ontrack attendance was 15,313.