King Cotton Stakes Features a Reunion of Past Winners

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

January 31st, 2018

Saturday’s $125,000 King Cotton Stakes at Oaklawn Park is shaping up to be a reunion of sorts. Remarkably, the winners of four of the last five renewals of the race will be back to vie for supremacy of the six-furlong sprint.

Leading the charge is Ivan Fallunovalot, an eight-year-old veteran that has won 17 of his 29 starts and even competed in the 2015 Breeders' Cup Sprint. He’s been particularly successful at Oaklawn Park, where he has cracked the exacta in nine of his ten starts, including victories in the 2015 and 2016 renewals of the King Cotton Stakes. However, Ivan Fallunovalot was beaten by the graded stakes-placed Wilbo in a six-furlong allowance optional claiming race at Oaklawn on January 14th, a race in which Ivan Fallunovalot set a very fast pace before weakening in the final furlong. Trained by W. T. Howard, Ivan Fallunovalot will be seeking to rebound in the King Cotton, though he’ll have to be sharp to turn the tables on Wilbo.

Also looking to get back in the winner’s circle is Apprehender, who won the King Cotton in both 2013 and 2014. Now nine years old, the Gene Jacquot-trained gelding hasn’t won since February 2017, but hit the board in eight of his nine starts last year and got a prep run under his belt when fifth behind Wilbo and Ivan Fallunovalot in the January 14th allowance race.

One of the wildcards in the King Cotton field is St. Joe Bay, who rose to prominence last winter when he won three straight races in California, including the Midnight Lute Stakes (gr. III) and Palos Verdes Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita. However, the Peter Miller-trained runner has not been the same since traveling across the globe and finishing fourth in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) in Dubai last March; his three runs since then have yielded sound defeats, though he ran an improved race when returning from a layoff to finish fourth in Oaklawn’s January 14th allowance event.

Recount, runner-up in the 2017 King Cotton, recently returned from a six-month layoff to finish a pace-tracking third behind Wilbo and Ivan Fallunovalot at Oaklawn, a solid effort that he should be able to build on this Saturday. Royal Squeeze, claimed by Randy Morse two starts back, cuts back in distance following a sixth-place finish in the 8.5-furlong Fifth Season Stakes at Oaklawn. Rounding out the field are Guns Loaded, recent winner of a six-furlong allowance race at Oaklawn and a graded stakes winner on turf two years ago; and Prime Engine, winner of the 2015 Emerald Downs Derby.

Post time for the King Cotton is 5:38 p.m. Eastern.