Will’s Secret Makes Herself Known With Martha Washington Win

HOT SPRINGS, AR (Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021) – Willis Horton Racing LLC’s homebred filly is a secret no longer after Will’s Secret made the successful jump from maiden winner to stakes winner in Saturday’s $200,000 Martha Washington Stakes. The victory also earned her 10 points towards eligibility in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) April 30.

Ridden by Jon Court, Will’s Secret settled behind the pace early as Sylvia Q led the field of six through early fractions of :23 3/5 and :45 1/5 for the first half mile. The winner came four wide around the turn for home, put her head in front at the top of the lane and proceed to widen the margin of victory through the stretch, drawing clear of 4-5 favorite Coach, who got a rough early trip, to win by 5 ¼ lengths. The winning time was 1:38 3/5 for one mile over a muddy track. Joy’s Rocket was third.

“The strategy was to not let the speed separate from us and keep them within striking distance, just because it is a short stretch, short run to the wire,” Court said. “I was keeping that in mind and mindful that these horses do have speed that carries. They’ve shown it already and proven that they can win wire-to-wire, or right there off the pace. If they created too much separation and left too much for her to do, there’s a chance I might not catch that speed. She rallied up to get on by them.”

Coach earned four points toward Kentucky Oaks eligibility, Joy’s Rocket got two points and Sylvia Q, who faded to fourth, earned one point.

Will’s Secret, by champion Will Take Charge, improved her record to two wins in five starts and she has now earned $163,300. She returned $18, $6.20 and $2.80.

“I was a little worried about it, honestly, because it was only a mile,” winning trainer Dallas Stewart said by phone from his New Orleans base. “She runs the stretch really, really good. I was a little worried. She had been going a mile and a sixteenth. I just worried about shortening her up because it can be a little tricky sometimes. Obviously, she’s a lot smarter than me.”

The Martha Washington win was the second in the race for owner Willis Horton of Marshall, AR after also winning the 2015 edition with Take Charge Brandi. It was also his second stakes victory in a week after winning the Fifth Season Stakes last Saturday with Silver State.

Live racing resumes Sunday at Oaklawn with a 1 p.m. first post.