Warrior’s Charge, a 4-year-old best known for setting the pace in last year’s Preakness Stakes, looks eligible to redefine himself as a quality speedster in the handicap division.
The Munnings colt set the pace and turned back Bankit in the Oaklawn Park stretch to win Monday’s Grade 3, $500,000 Razorback Handicap in a photo finish.
Under jockey Florent Geroux, the Ten Strike Racing and Madaket Stables runner clicked off fractions of 23.69, 47.85 and 1:12.51 and had just enough in reserve to fend off Bankit to his outside by a head.
"He's a good gate horse. He always puts himself in a great position," Geroux said. "I took advantage of it. We went to the lead and he relaxed nicely for me on the backside. When he saw that other horse (Bankit) coming down the lane, he fought very hard to the wire. It was great.”
The final time was 1:43 flat with Warrior's Charge, away at 3-1, paying $8.00.
“The horse came out on top and I’m very proud of him,” said winning trainer Brad Cox. “He’s been training well and showed up today. Without a doubt, we’ll keep him here and look at the Essex Handicap (March 14) and Oaklawn Handicap (April 18) for his next start.”
Warrior’s Charge won a pair of Oaklawn races last spring to convince his connections it was worth six figures to supplement to the Preakness Stakes. He ran up front there, too, before staying on for fourth.
Warrior’s Charge missed other featured events for 3-year-olds in 2019, however, after surviving a bout of colic that required surgery. He returned successfully in December at Fair Grounds with a victory that sprung him back to stakes company in the Razorback.
Behind Warrior's Charge, Snapper Sinclair ran third with Pioneer Spirit fourth in a deep field of 11.