04/11/2015 7:56PM

Wolf Man Rocket collects maiden win in Northern Spur

Coady Photography
Wolf Man Rocket, gives trainer Bob Baffert the first of two wins in stakes for 3-year-olds on Saturday's program in the Northern Spur.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Wolf Man Rocket won his maiden in the $100,000 Northern Spur at Oaklawn Park on Saturday to give trainer Bob Baffert a 3-year-old stakes double on the closing-day card. The trainer also sent out American Pharoah to an eight-length win in the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby.

The Northern Spur, at a mile, was one of three undercard stakes supporting the Arkansas Derby. Race Day took the Grade 2, $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap and Promise Me Silver ran her record to 7 for 7 in the $100,000 Instant Racing.

Wolf Man Rocket ($5.40) settled off the pace set by Hillbilly Royalty, who took the field through fractions of 23.30 seconds for the opening quarter, 46.83 for the half-mile, and 1:11.09 for six furlongs. Wolf Man Rocket moved to challenge the leader in the stretch, and pushed past him for a 1 3/4-length win over Hillbilly Royalty.

“It was a good trip,” said winning rider Victor Espinoza. “He broke a little slow and I had planned to be a little closer to the front. I just kept him behind the pace and he was a little wide, but I just wanted to keep him comfortable.  “I didn't want to change anything because he was running so well. What this horse needed was more distance and Baffert had him ready to go.”  Wolf Man Rocket won on a fast track in 1:36.48. The race ended at the sixteenth pole, as with all one-mile races at Oaklawn.

Wolf Man Rocket races for Frank Fletcher, a prominent businessman based in North Little Rock, Ark.

“I'm an Arkansas boy and we had to run in Arkansas,” Fletcher said of shipping a maiden in from Southern California for the Northern Spur.