HOT SPRINGS, AR (Saturday, April 30, 2022) – Shortleaf Stable Inc.’s Whelen Springs won his third straight race and hopefully set the stage for a big week for trainer John Ortiz when he got up in the final strides to win Saturday’s $150,000 Bachelor Stakes before an on-track crowd of 21,000. Next Saturday, Ortiz will saddle Arkansas-Derby runner-up Barber Road in his first Kentucky Derby (G1).
Whelen Springs broke sharply and never let heavy 1-2 favorite Cogburn out of his site, prompting the pace through early fractions of :22 3/5 and :45 4/5 for the first half mile. After drifting out at the top of the stretch, he regained his focus and got up just in time to win by a neck over his rival in 1:09 3/5 for six furlongs over a fast track. Cairama was third.
“I told (jockey Emmanuel Esquivel) he’s going to break pretty good and to keep him in the race,” Ortiz said. “Keep him close to him (Cogburn). I said ‘you’re going to win this race when you put a head in front’ and that’s the same exact instructions I gave to Gabe Saez when he won the Rainbow. I said, ‘Make sure you put a head in front early’ and he did. ‘Take the race to him.’ It was a great race down the stretch. I mean, this is a battle. I’m glad, even moving early, that we still got to battle Steve (Asmussen) and Ricardo (Santana Jr.). I love running here at Oaklawn and competing with these great trainers. It’s a great feeling.”
Whelen Springs, an Arkansas-bred son of Street Sense who was coming off a win in the $150,000 Rainbow Stakes for state-breds April 9, improved his record to 3-1-2 in seven career starts and has now earned $270,040. He returned $17.60, $4.80 and $2.80 at odds of 7-1.
Live racing resumes Sunday with a 1 p.m. first post. Following this card, there are just three more days remaining in the 2021-2022 season with Oaklawn running Friday, May 6 – Sunday, May 8 to close out the meet.
Oaklawn Park Press Release
Photo: Whelen Springs (Coady Photo)