01/16/2011 7:51PM

Win Willy gets Oaklawn meet off to a bang in Fifth Season

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Jeff Coady/ Coady Photography
Win Willy, ridden by Cliff Berry, defeats stachys by a neck in the Fifth Season.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Win Willy launched what his connections hope will be a big Oaklawn Park meet on Sunday, when he overcame a controlled pace to win the $75,000 Fifth Season by a neck over Stachys. It was another half-length back in third to Kate’s Main Man.

Win Willy’s spring objective is the Grade 2, $350,000 Oaklawn Handicap on April 9. His trainer, Mac Robertson, said the path the horse takes to get there will be determined, with his upcoming options being the $100,000 Essex on Feb. 5, and the Grade 3, $100,000 Razorback on March 12. Both handicaps are at Oaklawn.

“I really want to run him three times, so we’ll see,” said Robertson.

Win Willy ($3.20) trailed the field early in the Fifth Season, as Kate’s Main Man dictated the terms while racing clear through fractions of 24.25 seconds for the opening quarter, 49.40 for the half-mile, and 1:14.80 for six furlongs.

“I think that they took a pretty good edge,” Robertson said.

But Win Willy began his wind-up in the stretch and was in full flight nearing the wire. He covered 1 1/16 miles on a track rated fast in 1:46.15.

“He just lengthens his stride and gets up,” said Robertson. “I think he’s going to have a big meet.”

 Cliff Berry was aboard Win Willy, who was winning for the sixth time in 15 starts. The horse, who has now earned $579,460, is a 5-year-old by Monarchos who races for Jer-Mar Stables.

 First winner back for Jones

Trainer Larry Jones, who came out of retirement with the beginning of the Oaklawn meet that opened Saturday, won with his second starter back in the seventh race. Backwater Blues ($21.80) won the optional $65,000 optional claiming sprint under Gabriel Saez. It was Jones’s first winner since November 2009, when he turned his stable over to his wife, Cindy.

 * Magical Storm jumped the inside rail soon after the start of the ninth race Sunday and ran loose in the infield for about five minutes before being caught by outriders. Magical Storm and his rider, Dale Beckner, both appeared to escape serious injury.