Jan. 11, 2013
HOT SPRINGS, AR (Friday, Jan 11, 2012) – Two-time leading rider Cliff Berry got the 2013 season off to a good start Friday by guiding Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch’s Donoharm to horse’s fourth consecutive victory in the $75,000 Fifth Season Stakes. A crowd of 19,633 turned out to watch the first of 56 race cards that culminates with the $1 million Arkansas Derby April 13.
Berry kept Donoharm forwardly placed from the break as Double Rah Rah assumed the early lead and proceeded through leisurely fractions of 24 3/5 and 50 for the first half-mile. Several horses appeared to be in contention heading into the stretch, including local favorite Win Willy, but it was Donoharm that was the most determined to get to the wire first. He held off a closing Skyring by a head to prevail in 1:49 for 1 1/16 miles over a good track dampened by several inches of rain this week. After encountering a bit of traffic enter the far turn, Win Willy was another half-length back in third. Endorsement, the 7-5 favorite, was close early, but faded late to finish seventh.
“He kept trying,” said Berry. “I thought at every pole he was going to get tired, but he kept running. He won with determination. The track is a little tiring today, but he was determined. I just hope to keep up the winning, especially in these stakes races.”
Donoharm, trained by Bret Calhoun, returned $29.00, $11.40 and $5.80 at odds of 13-1. With the victory, the 4-year-old Kentucky-bred Lemon Drop Kid gelding improved his record to 4-2-3 in 14 starts and has now earned $182,080.
Likely to give Berry a run for his money as leading rider is Robby Albarado, who won three races on the 9-race opening-day program, including two for trainer Cody Autrey. Albarado, best known to Oaklawn fans as the regular rider of 2007 Arkansas Derby winner and two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, is riding regularly in Hot Springs for the first time since 1997 when he was leading rider.
Live racing resumes Saturday at Oaklawn with a 1 p.m. first post. The nine-race card is highlighted by the $60,000 Dixie Belle Stakes for 3-year-old fillies going six furlongs.