Proxy Wins Hard-fought Oaklawn Handicap

April 22, 2023

Three-way down to the wire as Proxy gets the shake (Coady Photography)

Oaklawn Park Press Release

HOT SPRINGS, Ark.— Godolphin LLC’s Proxy ran down the leaders late to prevail in a three-horse photo finish for the victory in Saturday’s $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) before an on-track crowd of 36,000.

Proxy, ridden by Joel Rosario, settled into fifth-place early as Santa Anita Handicap (G1) winner Stilleto Boy set the early pace, while pushed by Classic Causeway through fractions of :23 1/5 and :47 3/5 for the first half mile. The winner was still fifth as the horses entered the stretch, but quickly gained ground after going six wide and got up in the final strides to prevail by a head over defending Oaklawn Handicap winner Last Samurai, who was closing quickly up the rail. Stilleto Boy finished a nose behind in third. The final time was 1:49 3/5 over a fast track. 

“I thought we would be a little closer than we were,” said winning rider Joel Rosario, who was winning his second straight $1 million race at Oaklawn following the victory last Saturday in the Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) aboard Clairiere. “We always try to be in the clear on the outside. It looked like for a second when we hit the last turn, he took himself back a little bit. But he came back and when hit the stretch turning for home, he’s got that long stride and he kept getting to them, getting to them. Finally, he got them at the wire. It was a good race.”

Senor Buscador, Charge It, Classic Causeway, and Rated R Superstar completed the order of finish.

“I knew there was enough speed to set up his late run,” winning trainer Michael Stidham said. “The way it went, with Charge It sitting right in behind them (speed horses) and us outside of him, the only concern was turning for home it looked like he was trying to drop out of it again. But Joel (Rosario) had him out there for a reason, to stay out from behind the dirt.”

Proxy, who was coming off a narrow second behind Stilleto Boy in the ‘Big Cap’ improved his record to 5-6-2 in 16 career starts and has now earned $1,775,970. The son of Tapit returned $9.40, $4 and $2.80 at odds of 7-2.

Live racing resumes Sunday with a 12:30 p.m. first post. After Sunday, there are just two more weekends of racing at Oaklawn, which concludes its 2022-2023 live season Saturday, May 6.  

Stakes Quotes

Winning trainer Michael Stidham, Proxy: “I knew there was enough speed to set up his late run. The way it went, with Charge It sitting right in behind them (speed horses) and us outside of him, the only concern was turning for home it looked like he was trying to drop out of it again. But Joel (Rosario) had him out there for a reason, to stay out from behind the dirt.”

Winning jockey Joel Rosario, Proxy: “I thought we would be a little closer than we were. We always tried to be in the clear on the outside. It looked like for a second when we hit the last turn, he took himself back a little bit. But he came back and when hit the stretch turning for home, he’s got that long stride and he kept getting to them, getting to them. Finally, he got them at the wire. It was a good race.”

Jockey Cristian Torres, second on Last Samurai: “He ran his heart out, like he always does. Turning for home, I had the whole rail open for me. When I asked him, he went through for me. He (Kent Desormeaux) just tried to lean his horse (Stilleto Boy) on me to keep it going. It worked out for him, but it didn’t work out for us. We got beat, just right at the wire. When he bumped me, it took the momentum away a little bit from the horse. He’s the type of horse that something small can cost him the race, just like happened today. But I’m very, very happy that he kept going and tried all the way to the wire.”

Jockey Kent Desormeaux, third on Stilleto Boy: “An unlucky head bob. He does what he has to. He’s very talented and I was happy to ride him.”

An amazing article. Well done @jonathanstettin #ruffian twitter.com/jonathanstetti…

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