Updated on 09/17/2011 9:11PM

Top Commander all the way in Count Fleet

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Jeff Coady/Coady Photography
Top Commander wins the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn Park on Thursday.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Top Commander seized the lead from the start and never relinquished it en route to a 1 1/2-length win in the Grade 3, $150,000 at Oaklawn Park on Thursday. Forest Grove finished second in the race, a half-length in front of third-place finisher That Tat.

The Count Fleet is one of the nine stakes that make up the Racing Festival of the South over the last six days of the meet at Oaklawn.

Top Commander ($7.40) broke on top, with one of his main pace rivals, Rodeo's Castle, slow into stride after breaking in at the start. Top Commander was up by a length and a half through an opening quarter in 21.96 seconds, and continued to maintain that advantage through a half-mile in 44.57 seconds. Top Commander was diligent through the stretch, and went on to cover the six furlongs in 1:08.74.

"He's fast, this horse," said Cole Norman, who trains Top Commander.

Carlos Gonzalez rode Top Commander, who earlier this meet won a six-furlong allowance and earned a 110 Beyer Speed Figure, the highest Beyer earned in an Oaklawn race this meet through Tuesday. The win in the Count Fleet was the first in a stakes for Top Commander, and he earned $90,000. He has now won 6 of 14 starts and $172,560 for owner Courtland Farm.

Norman said next-race plans will be discussed for Top Commander, who is to be shipped to Louisiana. Oaklawn closes on Saturday.