Photo: Oaklawn Park
Few racehorse skippers can keep an even keel the way Lynn Whiting
does, so his another-day-at-the-Oaklawn-office attitude days after
setbacks for two stakes runners and a flashy win for a would-be stakes
star is no surprise.
Whiting said Wednesday that he “can’t be mad” at Officer Alex after a
handful of things went wrong in his sixth-place attempt at Monday’s
$150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes. He also thinks there might be a reason
Lady Stonewall faltered as the favorite in Sunday’s $60,000 Dixie Belle
Stakes. He was satisfied Cyber Secret finally displayed his full talent
in a rolling allowance race victory on Monday’s undercard.
Officer Alex was looking to build on a late 2012 victory in the
Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes at Parx Racing and was a respectable
fourth-choice in the betting for the one-mile, 3-year-old stakes
kickoff. Moments after the gates opened, the colt’s holiday Monday
turned into a manic Monday.
“He sort of missed the break right off,” said Whiting. “Then he ended
up four wide, and when he came with his big run, he appears to have
forgotten one of his shoes. His foot was alright, but it didn’t help him
any. He tried to make a rally, but he really used himself up and going
four wide in the middle of the track isn’t usually conducive to
Officer Alex checked in 13 ¼-lengths behind winner Will Take Charge.
Whiting didn’t find anything physically wrong with Lady Stonewall,
the 3-year-old filly who ended up finishing almost 10 lengths behind
American Sugar’s blowout performance in the six-furlong Dixie Belle.
Whiting didn’t point to early traffic trouble for the daughter of
Harlan's Holiday but he intimated the timing of her workouts and the
week’s delay after the race was cancelled from opening weekend may have
been to blame.
“She had a long workout at Churchill just before we left there and
then I gave her two half-mile works once we got here,” he said. “It
ended up being like 27 or 28 days since we gave her a long workout. I
thought her strong suit was going to be her finish. Instead she didn’t
have anything to offer. Maybe it was a lack of prep that she needed
during that time that led to that.”
Officer Alex mirrored the way Cyber Secret started his 3-year-old
campaign last January, with troubled trips that masked his true ability
in races like the Southwest and Rebel Stakes. Officer Alex can hope he
realizes his potential the way Cyber Secret did Monday in a 4 ¼-length
romp in an optional allowance mile race.
“I’m glad he stepped up and ran like I had expected him to,” said
Whiting. “I had really thought we were going to have a big fall with him
and he just didn’t put it together. I was really happy to see him bring
his ‘A’ race.”
Regardless of each horse’s performance, Whiting had the same answer for what would come next.
“We’ll get him (her) back and get to training on them a bit,” he
said. “The stakes will stay on the drawing board and we will see where
we are at.”