Hot Springs, Arkansas – Millionaire Warrior’s Charge is back in the conversation for Oaklawn’s two-turn stakes series for older horses following a runaway allowance victory January 28. The horse’s stablemate and younger half-sister, Warrior’s Battle, could eventually be in the stakes conversation, too, after three blowout victories earlier in the meeting.
Turning back the clock under regular rider Florent Geroux, Warrior’s Charge ($5.60) recorded a 9 3/4-length victory after tracking isolated leader Fact Finding for much of the 1 1/16-mile race and seizing command on the outside turning for home. The final time of 1:45.50 over a fast track generated a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 101, which equaled a career high. It was the first time Warrior’s Charge, a 6-year-old son of Munnings, crossed the finish line first since the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses in February 2020 at Oaklawn.
Warrior’s Charge, who has evolved into a stalker after being a confirmed front-runner earlier in his career, will target the $500,000 Essex Handicap (G3) at 1 1/16 miles March 19, trainer Brad Cox said Tuesday afternoon.
“He’s always been a good horse,” Cox said. “He’s obviously a multiple Grade 3 winner. It was big. He got a big figure at Keeneland in the fall. He didn’t win, but he was right there at the wire with a couple of other horses. On his day, he can show that he can run a triple-digit Beyer and be a factor in stake races as he’s been in the past.”
After winning the Razorback, Warrior’s Charge finished second in the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) in May 2020 at Oaklawn and fourth in the $500,000 Metropolitan Handicap (G1) in July 2020 at Belmont Park. Warrior’s Charge – via a disqualification for interference near the wire – was elevated to first in the $200,000 Philip H. Iselin Stakes (G3) the following month at Monmouth Park.
Warrior’s Charge wouldn’t win again until January 28, a span of 10 starts. The stretch included a nose loss to Thomas Shelby at 1 1/16 miles in an Oct. 24 allowance race at Keeneland – each horse received a 101 Beyer – and a fourth-place finish behind millionaire multiple Grade 2 winner Lone Rock, Thomas Shelby and Beau Luminarie in the inaugural $200,000 Tinsel Stakes at 1 1/8 miles December 18 at Oaklawn.
Warrior’s Charge is co-owned by Ten Strike Racing (founding partners Marshall Gramm and Arkansas native Clay Sanders) and Madaket Stables (Sol Kumin). Ten Strike, which considers Oaklawn its home track, offers fractional ownership in horses to investors. Warrior’s Charge recorded his first two career victories (both at 1 1/16 miles) by a combined 12 ½ front-running lengths at the 2019 Oaklawn meeting before finishing fourth in the Preakness in his next start.
“He’s a very sound horse,” Cox said. “He’s obviously a Ten Strike horse, which comes with a lot of fanfare there. There’s a lot of partners in on him in the region, so it’s always good for him to perform well there at Oaklawn.”
Cox said the “next logical spot” for Warrior’s Charge is the Essex, a major local prep for the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 23. Warrior’s Charge was fifth in last year’s Oaklawn Handicap. The horse has never started in the Essex.
The January 28 victory was the sixth in 21 starts overall for Warrior’s Charge and boosted his earnings to $1,116,890. Before his sparkling allowance victory last month, Warrior’s Charge had been upstaged by his rapidly improving younger half-sister, Warrior’s Battle, during the 2021-2022 meeting that began December 3.
Warrior’s Battle became the meet’s first three-time winner in a January 22 starter/optional claimer, coasting to a 9 ¾-length victory in her two-turn debut for Cox and co-owners Ten Strike Racing and Titletown Racing Stables (Paul Farr). She paid $3.80 as the heavy 4-5 favorite.
Warrior’s Battle, racing for a $40,000 claiming tag, broke her maiden by 7 ¼ lengths December 5 and was a four-length starter/optional claiming winner January 7.
“Probably won’t run her back quite as quick as we did last time,” Cox said. “She gave us enough confidence with her last start to give her another run around two turns. There’s obviously more money around two turns than there is one turn in Thoroughbred racing most of time.”
Warrior’s Battle, a 3-year-old daughter of Khozan, was withdrawn from Keeneland’s January Horses of All Ages Sale approximately a week before her two-turn victory because “we didn’t believe that that was the best way to optimize value,” Farr said.
Now, her value seems to be increasing.
“We’ll give her time,” Cox said. “I think like a first-level allowance is a logical spot. If she performs well there, I think we’ll turn our attention toward some stakes.”
Purchased for $50,000 at the 2019 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale, Warrior’s Battle has a 3-0-1 record from five lifetime starts and earnings of $79,500.
Bob’s Edge will be pointed to the inaugural $200,000 Whitmore Stakes (G3) for older sprinters March 19 following his victory in the $150,000 King Cotton Stakes Jan. 29, trainer Larry Jones said Tuesday morning.
Unbeaten Newgrange received a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 89, a career high, for his 1 ½-length victory in the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds Jan. 29. Newgrange is now back at his Southern California base with Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
Where’s Randy ($8.60) represented the 294th career Oaklawn victory for trainer Randy Morse in a Jan. 29 Arkansas-bred maiden-allowance sprint. Jockey Walter De La Cruz had two mounts Jan. 30, his first action since Oct. 23 because of a neck problem.
Nominations to the $150,000 Dixie Belle Stakes for 3-year-old filly sprinters Feb. 19 closed Friday.
Gar Hole, a two-time winner at the meet, is under consideration for the $150,000 Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes for Arkansas-bred sprinters March 5, said John Ortiz, who trains the gelding for breeder/owner John Ed Anthony of Hot Springs. Racing is scheduled to resume Friday at 1 p.m. (Central) after it was cancelled this weekend because of icy conditions.
Robert Yates/Oaklawn Barn Notes
Photo: Coady Photography