Recently, Willcox Inn fell a win shy of sweeping the Arlington Park 3-year-old turf series. On May 28, the son of Harlan’s Holiday notched a 2 ½-length triumph in the mile-and-a-sixteenth $100,000 Arlington Classic. The Kentucky-bred conditioned by Michael Stidham followed by notching a 4-length triumph in the mile-and-three-sixteenths Grade II American Derby on July 9. In his last outing, he ran fourth, beaten 3 ½-lengths in the mile-and-a-quarter Secretariat Stakes on August 13.
“He has been training real well,” said Stidham. “He has had a few breezes since the Secretariat, and he is doing well. The first time we noticed a real difference was when we put the blinkers on him, and that was when he won the Classic at Arlington. The blinkers seemed to get him to focus a little better and have him a little closer to the pace. After that adjustment, he seemed to really move forward.”
Another dangerous aspect for Willcox Inn is his ability to adjust his race according to the pace.
“He is pretty handy,” Stidham said. “Depending on how fast they are going in front of him, he can lay off of them with a fast pace, and if pace is slower up front, he can be closer. Either way he can be a real threat.”
Willcox Inn sports a career record of three wins, a second and two thirds from eight starts, with earnings of $360,943.
J W Blue, who recently finished third in the Grade I Travers Stakes at Saratoga on August 27, has been cross-entered in the Kent Stakes and the Pennsylvania Derby at Parx.
“I entered J W Blue, and he will either run in the Kent Stakes on the turf or in the Pennsylvania Derby,” said trainer Anthony Dutrow. “He has not raced on the turf, but we have trained him on the turf. We feel that he likes the grass and that he is bred for it, so we want to give him an opportunity on the turf some day to see how he will handle it.”
Before his third-place finish in the Travers, the son of Sky Mesa ran second, beaten a head in the mile-and-seventy-yard $100,000 Barbaro Stakes at Delaware Park on July 9. Previously, the Kentucky-bred finished second, beaten a head in the mile-and-a-sixteenth $50,000 Floor Show Stakes at Delaware Park on June 13. He sports a career record of two wins, two seconds and two thirds from 10 starts, with earnings of $196,470.