OCEANPORT, N.J.— Webslinger is a maiden no more. In fact, the 2-year-old son of Constitution could well be headed to the Breeders’ Cup next. That’s how quickly fortunes can change in horse racing.
Coming off a troubled second-place finish in restricted Maiden Special Weight company in a turf sprint at Saratoga on Aug. 31, Webslinger stormed by 2-5 favorite Oxymore in deep stretch and went on to a half-length victory in Saturday’s $500,000 Nownownow Stakes for 2-year-olds at Monmouth Park.
The winning time for the mile over a firm turf course was 1:35.09.
“Mark wanted to try this because of his race at Saratoga in his last start,” said Shane Tripp, Casse’s assistant. “He got in so much trouble that day and still closed strong the last quarter mile. He got put in the hedge and was last at the quarter pole and still finished strong.
“Mark felt like he deserved a shot at this off this race. It was a little bit of a gamble since this horse was a maiden, but the way he ran his last start, to get in all that trouble and still get second at 5½ furlongs, Mark felt good about trying him here.”
Ridden by Dylan Davis, Webslinger again showed the late run he only hinted at in his last start, roaring off the turn just as the Chad Brown-trained Oxymore was beginning to get away from the other eight freshman runners. But Oxymore’s first try at two turns came up just shore because of Webslinger’s strong rally.
Let’s Go Big Blue was another 2½ lengths back in third.
“Mark said he really liked this horse and that he was training well,” said Davis. “He just had a lot of trouble in his last start, in a sprint, and Mark felt he had a lot more to show. That was enough for me. When Mark told my agent that he felt this was one of his good ones that was enough for me to come here. Oxymore was a difficult horse to beat. He’s very talented. But my horse showed his ability.”
With Power Attack setting early fractions of :22.09 and :46.45 and Oxymore stalking him, Davis played a waiting game with Webslinger. When Oxymore emerged from the pack after the three quarters in 1:09.34, Davis asked his colt for more.
Bred in Kentucky, Webslinger is owned by Leonard Green’s DJ Stable.
“I kept him covered up and was able to make that one run,” said Davis. “I thought there was a lot of speed on paper and they did go pretty fast early but I was able to tuck him in. He was aggressive and on the bridle all the way around. I wanted him to learn a little by tucking him in.
“At the half mile pole I wanted to come outside to see what we had. I saw Oxymore was starting to inch away coming out of that second turn so I wanted to get him into a spot where he could make a clear run and really get his run going.”
Webslinger, off the board in his first career start on the dirt at Ellis Park on Aug. 6, paid $30.00 to win.
“The way he trains and crosses ground, and the way that race set up at Saratoga and the way he finished that race, there really weren’t any concerns about him going two turns for the first time,” said Tripp. “This was just an incredible effort. To go that quick is very impressive at this stage of his career.”
Monmouth Park’s 60-day meet wraps up Sunday with a 12-race card. Admission and parking are free. First race post time is 12:15 p.m.
Tom Luicci/Monmouth Park
Main Photo by Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO