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Willcox Inn: The Two Million Dollar Man?

4 November 2010: Willcox Inn, trained by Michael Stidham and to be ridden by jockey John Velazquez, during work outs for the 2010 Breeders Cup at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.(Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire)

When Willcox Inn made his Keeneland debut in a third-place finish in the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (G1) during the 2010 fall meet, he was coming off a maiden victory at Arlington Park in his first start. He defeated eventual Kentucky Derby (G1) and Dubai World Cup (G1) winner Animal Kingdom in that race.

In his most recent Keeneland start, Willcox Inn finished third in the off-the-turf Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) to boost his career earnings to $1,014,543.

“The first million was hard; the second million will be easy,” trainer Mike Stidham said with a laugh. “I know I would like to have 10 more like him.”

The 5-year-old horse has run in 17 graded stakes in his 21-race career and placed in the top three in 10 of them. He has a Grade 2 victory, two Grade 3 wins and an ungraded turf stakes victory in which he defeated Fort Larned, winner of last year’s $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“He has been very consistent,” Stidham said of Willcox Inn, who will close his 2013 campaign with a start in Saturday’s $200,000 Hagyard Fayette (G2) at 1 1/8 miles on the main track.

“We experimented in the United Nations (G1) with stretching him out (to 1 3/8 miles),” he continued. “The mile and an eighth is about his max and a mile the shortest. Anything in that range is his game as long as the turf is not too soft and he is good on Polytrack.”

The only extended time Willcox Inn has missed was an eight-month break at the end of his 3-year-old campaign.

“That was at the end of cannon bone remodeling,” Stidham said. “We turned him out and the time off became a little more extended because we waited until he was 100 percent and it has paid off.”

After Saturday, it is break time for the Kentucky-bred son of Harlan’s Holiday.

“He will go to Stone Farm for a couple of months and then come back and get cranked up for his 6-year-old campaign,” Stidham said.



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