Ex-claimers Pioneer Spirit, Guest Suite sweep Oaklawn's Fifth Season

Oaklawn Park Communications
January 25, 2020 07:52pm
Ex-claimers Pioneer Spirit, Guest Suite sweep Oaklawn's Fifth Season
Photo: Coady Photography

Two photo finishes and a runaway favorite highlighted the stakes triple header at Oaklawn before a crowd of 30,000 on opening Saturday.

On a day with lots of tight finishes, including two dead heats, the final stakes of the day also came down to the wire with Pioneer Spirit holding off a late charge by Bankit to prevail by a head in the second division of the split Fifth Season Stakes.

The winner, a slight 5-2 second choice behind Bravazo, took the lead soon after the break and proceeded to set fractions of :23 3/5 and :47 3/5 for the first half mile. By the time Pioneer Spirit entered the stretch he had opened a three-length lead, but a determined Bankit was closing fast from seventh place. Mocito Rojo who raced evenly near the top tier held on for third. The favorite Bravazo finished fifth.

Pioneer Spirit, who paid $7.40, $4  and $2.80, will “most likely” make his next start in the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) Feb. 17, trainer Robertino Diodoro said.

"He's a nice horse and hopefully we can keep him healthy and have some fun with him during the Oaklawn meet," the trainer added. "One step at a time. Things are going to get a little tougher here as the money goes up, as we get a little deeper into the stakes schedule, but we'll see what happens. Got to like an old classy horse that's got a big heart. He's got a couple of wins in a row now. He's got a big heart on him. Keep him healthy and we'll keep moving forward."

In the first division of the Fifth Season Stakes, Contreras Stable Inc. and David Rodriquez’s Guest Suite, who was claimed for $62,500 Oct. 5, 2019 at Keeneland, got up in the final strides to edge 8-5 favorite Snapper Sinclair by a neck as the highest priced horse in the field.

The winner vied early for the lead, but was taken back and patiently handled down the backstretch by Walter De La Cruz before coming three wide into the stretch and nipping the favorite at the wire. Night Ops finished third. The winning time was 1:39 for one mile over a muddy (sealed) racetrack.

“He ran a big race," said trainer Cipriano Contreras. "He's a nice old horse. We got lucky, I guess. It's nothing really I did. He made $300,000 before I got him. He's got a world-class pedigree. You just claim them and hope for the best.” 

Guest Suite improved his record 6-2-8 in 24 starts and has now earned $477,633. He returned $24.40, $8.40 and 5.


In the Pippin, Fox Hill Farm, Inc.’s Whoa Nellie, the 2-1 favorite, drew off to a 4 ½ length victory over Special Reality.


Despite her name, the 4-year-old Orb filly was content to race behind the early leaders as Lady Suebee took the field through fractions of :22 4/5 and :46 2/5 for the first half mile. Whoa Nellie began to make her move five wide entering the stretch and took off under a confident ride by Joe Rocco Jr. to win in a final time of 1:39 2/5 over a track upgraded to good. Cairenn finished third.


The winner improved her record to five wins from nine starts and has now earned $256,230. She returned $6.60, $4.20, $3.40.


Whoa Nellie will be pointed for the $200,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) Feb. 17, Jones said.


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