HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — The well-traveled Heartwood, coming off a third-place effort in the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector at Gulfstream Dec. 22, did not disappoint as the 2-1 favorite when he took Saturday’s $100,000 King Cotton Stakes by a half-length over Control Stake.
Ridden by David Cohen, Heartwood was a close second behind Florida Gordy through opening fractions of :22 1/5 and :45 3/5 for the first half mile. The winner took a narrow lead as the field entered the stretch and battled gamely to the wire, holding off the late closing Control Strike, who came from last. Florida Gordy was just a neck back in third. The final time was 1:09 4/5 over a fast track.
“He ran very hard,” Cohen said. “The #3 horse (Gordy Florida) really dug in and made me really have to work for it. It didn't come easy. I really thought I would get that type of setup and my horse showed a lot of heart. He kind of lived up to his name.”
Heartwood, who races for owner-trainer James Chapman and Stuart Tsujimoto, improved his record to 6-3-1 in 26 starts and has now earned $431,403. The 5-year-old Tapit horse returned $6.20, $3.60 and $3.00.
Live racing resumes Sunday with a 1:30 p.m. first post.