Other than his many local owners, nobody was likely happier to see Warrior’s Charge win Monday’s $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) than Coady Photography, Oaklawn’s longtime track photographer.
Warrior’s Charge is campaigned, in partnership, by Memphis, Tenn.-based Ten Strike Racing, which considers Oaklawn its home track. The syndicate side of Ten Strike offers fractional ownership of horses and approximately 35 partners have a piece of Warrior’s Charge, founding partner Clay Sanders said a week before the Razorback, a 1 1/16-mile race for older horses.
“If he’s lucky enough to win, it will be a full winner’s circle, I can assure you that,” Sanders said. “If it’s not the biggest one of the year, I will be surprised. There’s a lot of 1 percent, half-percent guys in Arkansas that own part of this horse.”
Get the picture?
Favored Warrior’s Charge won the Razorback, and Oaklawn’s infield winner’s circle reserved for stakes was so packed that track announcer Vic Stauffer wondered aloud if there would be room for the horse in the hedge-shaped horseshoe.
“That was really cool,” said Liz Crow, Ten Strike’s racing manager.
The Razorback represented a breakthrough victory for Warrior’s Charge, who whipped maiden special weights and first-level allowance opponents last year at Oaklawn before running fourth in the May 18 Preakness – the second leg of the Triple Crown – after being supplemented for $150,000 by Ten Strike and co-owner Madaket Stables (Jason Monteleone and Sol Kumin).
A health scare (colic) sidelined Warrior’s Charge following the Preakness and he didn’t resurface until a Dec. 18 allowance race at Fair Grounds. The Munnings colt, off that front-running two-length victory, made his 4-year-old debut in the Razorback.
Warrior’s Charge was hustled to the front Monday by Florent Geroux and led virtually every step, holding off Bankit by a head in 1:43.00 over a fast track. Warrior’s Charge ($8) received a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 97, a career high.
Trainer Brad Cox said Warrior’s Charge came around so quickly late last year that he thought about running him in the $200,000 Sunshine Millions Classic for Florida-breds Jan. 18 at Gulfstream Park. But after conferring with Sanders and Marshall Gramm, Ten Strike’s other founding partner, it was decided to train up to the Razorback.
“It worked out well because we were, obviously, two months between races,” Cox said. “He stepped up and ran well.”
Cox said the major spring target for Warrior’s Charge is the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 18. Warrior’s Charge has a 4-0-3 record from eight lifetime starts and earnings of $565,310. On Crow’s recommendation, Ten Strike privately purchased Warrior’s Charge from his breeder, Al Shaquab Racing, as a yearling.
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