Tejano Twist wins an allowance optional claimer Jan. 6 at Oaklawn (Coady Photography)
Oaklawn Park Press Release
HOT SPRINGS, Ark.— Tejano Twist is the 3-1 program favorite for the $200,000 Whitmore Stakes (G3) for older sprinters Saturday at Oaklawn.
Probable post time for the 6-furlong Whitmore, the eighth of 10 races, is 4:22 p.m. (Central). Racing begins at 12:35 p.m. The card also features the $500,000 Essex Handicap (G3) for older horses at 1 1/16 miles.
The projected 10-horse Whitmore field from the rail out: Spankster, David Cabrera to ride, 124 pounds, 8-1 on the morning line; Tejano Twist, Francisco Arrieta, 124, 3-1; Miles Ahead, Martin Garcia, 117, 15-1; Edge to Edge, Nik Juarez, 124, 4-1; Empire of Gold, Lane Luzzi, 119, 15-1; Baytown Bear, Maclovio Enriquez Jr., 117, 20-1; Flash of Mischief, Cristian Torres, 124, 9-2; Pirate Rick, Rafael Bejarano, 119, 12-1; Cogburn, Ricardo Santana Jr., 124, 7-2; and Morello, Flavien Prat, 117, 15-1.
Tejano Twist and the speedy Edge to Edge are both trained by 2015 local champion Chris Hartman. Tejano Twist, a late-running son of Practical Joke, had won three consecutive starts before finishing second, beaten four lengths, by millionaire Grade 1 winner Gunite in the $150,000 King Cotton Stakes at 6 furlongs Jan. 28 at Oaklawn. Gunite’s winning time over a sloppy track was a meet-best 1:08.89. With Gunite now based in the Middle East, Tejano Twist is favored to notch his third career stakes victory and second since Hartman claimed the gelding for $80,000 last June at Churchill Downs.
“No Gunite this time,” Hartman said. “That should be a little bit of help, for sure. He’s a little hard to run down. We’ve got one horse on the front that’s been doing really good and another one coming from the back. Hopefully, we can get a good result there. It looks like they’re both coming into the race really live.”
Edge to Edge has recorded two sharp front-running allowance victories at the 2022-2023 Oaklawn. The 6-furlong races went in 1:09.30 and 1:09.65.
Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who conditions Gunite, will send out Grade 3 winner Morello and Cogburn, who has been favored in all six lifetime starts.
Morello, in his Oaklawn debut, finished fourth, beaten 9 ¾ lengths by Edge to Edge, Feb. 17. Cogburn is poised to grab his first career stakes victory after narrow misses last spring in the $150,000 Bachelor at Oaklawn and the $200,000 Chick Lang (G3) at Pimlico. Cogburn, in his 4-year-old debut and first start against older horses, was a Feb. 5 allowance winner at Oaklawn. Cogburn’s winning time over a fast track was 1:09.67.
“He’s always been fast,” Asmussen said. “He’s run some very fast races and that’s a good quality in a racehorse.”
Flash of Mischief looks to rebound from a fifth-place finish in the King Cotton for trainer Karl Broberg. Flash of Mischief won the $150,000 Ring the Bell Stakes at 6 furlongs Dec. 10 at Oaklawn.
The Whitmore is the final major local prep for the $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) at 6 furlongs April 15. The Whitmore is named for seven-time Oaklawn stakes winner Whitmore, the country’s champion male sprinter of 2020.