Willcox Inn Just Up in Washington Park 'Cap


Lael Stable and All In Stable's Willcox Inn narrowly defeated front-running Gallant Eagle to capture his third graded stakes win in the $150,000 Washington Park Handicap (gr. III) at Arlington Park Aug. 31 .

Rated off the early fractions of :24.69 for the opening quarter-mile and :49.81 for the half-mile set by Gallant Eagle, Willcox Inn needed everything he had to just get by the front-runner in the 1/18-mile feature on Polytrack. Hattaash rallied to finish third in the tight finish.

Willcox Inn, who has made 16 of his 20 lifetimes starts on turf, won by a nose over Gallant Eagle, who had a neck on Hattash. The final time was 1:49.62.

A 5-year-old by Harlan's Holiday   horse out of the Gone West mare De Aar, Willcox Inn was bred in Kentucky by Dr. John Chandler. As a 3-year-old he won the American Derby (gr. IIT) and Hawthorne Derby (gr. IIIT). He broke his maiden on the Arlington Polytrack in his debut as a 2-year-old.

"He's very tough when he gets into a fight," said jockey James Graham, who rode the winner for trainer Mike Stidham."He loves it more than just sprinting away from them. He ran by (Gallant Eagle) and then started to wait a little bit on him. The other horse came back on him and he fought all the way to the wire."

Willcox Inn was coming off a fifth-place finish in the United Nations (gr. IT) July 6 on the turf at Monmouth Park, and posted a pair of seconds in grade II grass events this spring.

"If there was ever a photo we needed to win, this was the one," Stidham said. "This little horse, he tries hard every time. We've put him in some tough spots all year long. He got the job done, and James did a great job."

Willcox Inn paid $6.20, $4, and $3 across the board. Gallant Eagle returned $6.80 and $4, while Hattaash paid $6.40 to show. The exacta paid $62.40 and the 50-cent trifecta returned $115.30.

Favored Mister Marti Gras, who won the 2011 Washington Park Handicap, finished fourth, followed by Agent Di Nozzo, and Color Me Blue.

Willcox Inn, who has won six of 20 starts lifetime, is approaching millionaire status. His earnings stand at $939,543.