Favored Silver State Wins Essex Handicap

HOT SPRINGS, AR (Saturday, March 5, 2021) – Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing’s Silver State lived up to his role as the 6-5 favorite and increased his win streak to four in a row with his come from behind victory in Saturday’s $500,000 Essex Handicap. The victory was also the fourth of the meet for co-owner Willis Horton of Marshall, AR, who also won the Fifth Season Stakes with Silver State and both the Martha Washington and Honeybee (G3) with Will’s Secret.

Silver State, ridden by leading jockey Ricardo Santana Jr., was unhurried early and laid fifth of six through opening fractions of :23 2/5 and :47 3/5 for the first half mile set by Harpers First Ride. The winner came four wide into the stretch, gained the lead and had plenty left to hold off the late charging Rated R Superstar, the 2019 Essex Handicap winner, for the victory by a neck. Winning time was 1:42 3/5 over a fast track. Defending Essex Handicap winner Night Ops was third.

“We had a beautiful trip,” Santana Jr. said. “I was in the position I wanted to be in. He relaxed really well for me and turning for home, he gave me a really nice finish.”

“It’s a great partnership with the Hortons and Winchell Thoroughbreds,” trainer Steve Asmussen added. “They’ve done so much for me. This horse has always shown a lot of potential. We gave him the necessary time and he’s come back to win four races. This was a very quality win today.”

Silver State improved his record to five wins from nine starts and has now earned $630,094. He returned $4.40, $3 and $2.10.