03/06/2010 12:00AM

Win Willy comes running in Razorback


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Win Willy removed blinkers for Saturday's and turned in a sterling, come-from-behind performance to win the Oaklawn Park stakes by 3 3/4 lengths. Spotsgone finished second after setting the pace, and it was another length back in third to favorite Gone Astray.

Win Willy ($7.40) had one horse beat going into the first turn of the mile and a sixteenth race, biding his time as Spotsgone led the field through fractions of 23.55 seconds for the opening quarter, 47.11 for the half-mile and 1:11.75 for six furlongs. Jockey Cliff Berry asked Win Willy to make his move midway on the final turn, and the horse responded in quick order. He passed horses with ease around the turn, swung out into the stretch, and rolled home to overtake the leaders and cover the distance, on a fast track, in 1:43.83.

"Cliff was pretty happy," said Mac Robertson, who trains Win Willy. "When he asked him to run, he really dropped down and gave a pretty good three-eighths of a mile run."

Win Willy improved his local record to 4 for 6, and overall has won 5 of 10 starts. His biggest wins have come at Oaklawn, the most significant last year's Grade 2 Rebel at 56-1.

Robertson said Win Willy is now a candidate for the Grade 2, $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap here April 3. A 4-year-old by Monarchos, he races for Jer-Mar Stable.

Baffert perfect at Oaklawn

Horses from the barn of Southern California-based trainer Bob Baffert have been tough to catch in stakes this meet. He sent out his second front-running stakes winner here Saturday, when Freedom Star led coast to coast in the . Last month, the Baffert-trained Conveyance wired the field in the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest.

Freedom Star ($7.60) was up by a length in the first turn, with Just Jenda and Spirit Seeker chasing her through an opening quarter in 23.83 seconds. Freedom Star continued to lead through a half-mile in 48.11, and six furlongs in 1:12.93, in the mile and a sixteenth race. Through the stretch, she had enough to hold off Euphony, becoming a stakes winner after covering the distance in 1:44.09.

"Everything I asked during the race, she was there," said Calvin Borel, who rode Freedom Star.

Freedom Star won by 3 3/4 lengths over Euphony. It was another length and a half back in third to Afleet Deceit.

Freedom Star, who was making her first start on conventional dirt, races for George Krikorian. She is a 4-year-old daughter of Street Cry.

* Attendance ontrack was 19,292.