HOT SPRINGS -- With one horse leading and another closing fast in the stretch, Chris Hartman could feel cozy about winning the Grade III $200,000 Whitmore Stakes on Saturday at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort.
Edge to Edge got the jump over nine older horses before race favorite Tejano Twist gave the track's second-leading trainer in races won a 11/2-length triumph in the 77th running of the former Hot Springs Stakes.
Miles Ahead, a Paul McGee-trained shipper, outlegged Edge to Edge for second in a field that included December Oaklawn stakes winner Flash of Mischief.
Steve Asmussen, one of several Hall of Fame trainers honored at the track Saturday, entered two horses in the Whitmore, getting a strong effort into the turn from Cogburn. But, also sending out Morello, Asmussen had no suitable replacement for 4-year-old Gunite, last-out winner of the track's $150,000 King Cotton and a subsequent stakes second in Dubai.
The King Cotton runner-up, Tejano Twist bounced off the turn under Francisco Arrieta with business on his mind. Paying $5.80, $3.20 and $2.60, the Practical Joke gelding won for the second time at Oaklawn as a 4-year-old and the seventh time in 16 career starts.
Winning an allowance-optional claimer Jan. 6, Tejano Twist launched a campaign that may keep him at Oaklawn for the Grade III $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap on April 15. Hartman won the Count Fleet in 2015 with Alsvid, the year that he took the Oaklawn title with 34 victories.
Catching Robertino Diodoro, the track's 2020 training leader, may prove fruitless but with 29 victories through the Whitmore, the 50-year-old Hartman has exceeded his sixth-place Oaklawn total of 23 last season.
As with 2-year-old Kavod in the 2021 Advent, Oaklawn's first December stakes race, Hartman obtained the Whitmore winner through racing's equivalent of college sports' transfer portal.
Claiming Tejano Twist for $80,000 in June 2022 at Churchill Downs off Bret Calhoun, he has seen the gelding bump career earnings past $750,000 for owners Jackie Slawson (JD Thoroughbreds) and Joey Keith Davis.
Tejano Twist went six furlongs in 1:09.27 over a fast-rated surface on a sunny afternoon in the 40s that Oaklawn clearly got a break in the weather on Hall of Fame Saturday. The victory was worth $120,000.
HOF members Asmussen, Lukas and Bill Mott were honored together after the Whitmore, Mott shipping in Vittorio for the Grade III Essex Handicap in the next race. Twelve-time Oaklawn riding champion Pat Day posed with trainer Carl Nafzger, Kentucky Derby-winning trainer of Unbridled in 1990 and Street Sense (Calvin Borel) in 2007.
Day won his only Derby in 1992 aboard Lil E. Tee for the late Magnolia owner Cal Partee and the late trainer Lynn Whiting.
His second of four Breeders' Cup Classic victories came with Unbridled in 1990 after Craig Perret rode the colt in the Kentucky Derby. Day won the inaugural BC Classic in 1984 with Oaklawn Handicap winner Wild Again for trainer Vincent Timphony at the former Hollywood Park.