RAZORBACK HANDICAP | PURSE: $200,000| 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP | GRADE 3 | 1 1/16-MILES
E. Paul Robsham Stables' homebred Golden Lad recorded a smashing stakes debut in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn Park, strolling home an impressive 6 3/4-length winner for trainer Todd Pletcher. Now a victor in four straight starts, the four-year-old colt clearly stamped himself as an older horse to watch going forward.
"I thought he ran super," Pletcher said. "We are very, very pleased. I was a little concerned when the track came up wet, but he obviously handled it fine. He broke well and then got into a good stalking position. He ran a very powerful race.
"It was definitely a step up from allowance company into a new level for him, but anytime you've won three straight races you certainly have talent. I felt like he deserved this opportunity and he proved he did. It is possible that we may he coming back for the Oaklawn Handicap (on April 12)."
Golden Lad broke alertly under Jose Lezcano and stalked to the outside of pacesetter Right to Vote, who led by about a length through opening splits in :23 1/5 and :46 4/5. The top pair took closer order entering the far turn, with Right to Vote still clinging to a head advantage after six furlongs in 1:11 2/5, and Golden Lad accelerated past to take command approaching the stretch drive.
Entering the straightaway full of run, Golden Lad quickly opened up by daylight, passing the mile mark in 1:37 1/5 with a 3 1/2-length edge. He continued to pour it on in the final sixteenth of a mile, completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:43 3/5 on the wet-fast track.
Golden Lad paid $12 to win as the 5-1 third choice among seven rivals.
Majestic City got up late for second, a head better than 5-2 second choice Taptowne. It was another 4 3/4 lengths back to Right to Vote in fourth. Next came 2-1 favorite Govenor Charlie, Called to Serve and Street Spice.
A convincing maiden winner at Monmouth Park last July, Golden Lad finished second when making his first attempt against winners in an entry-level allowance/optional claiming event at Saratoga. He was freshened two months afterward, returning with a runner-up against similar foes at Gulfstream, and started his current win streak with a 1 1/4-length score at that level in mid-November.
The dark bay posted neck decisions in his previous two starts at Gulfstream, winning at a one-turn mile in late December before taking a 1 1/16-mile allowance/optional claiming event on February 5. With Saturday's $120,000 payday, Golden Lad nearly doubled his career earnings to $244,920 from a 8-5-2-0 ledger.
A Kentucky-bred son of Medaglia d'Oro, Golden Lad is out of the stakes-winning Seeking the Gold mare Broadway Gold and counts Grade 2 winner Broadway's Alibi and multiple stakes queen R Gypsy Gold as half-sisters.
Broadway Gold is a half-sister to Dialed In, winner of the 2011 editions of the Florida Derby and Holy Bull. Champion two-year-old filly Eliza, runner-up in the 1993 Kentucky Oaks, is Golden Lad's third maternal dam.