April 16, 2016
Source: Blood-Horse (Frank Angst)

Effinex, who may have been the top handicap horse in the country at the end of last season, secured another big win April 16 with a one-length score in the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) at Oaklawn ParkWatch Video

In his seasonal debut off about a 3 1/2-month layoff March 12, Tri-Bone Stables’ New York Horse of the Year finished third to Melatonin in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), where Effinex battled the hives in a race he may have needed. In his second start of the season, the 5-year-old Mineshaft   horse delivered an impressive win under Hall of Famer Mike Smith in the Oaklawn Handicap, turning tables on a game Melatonin in the stretch.

“He was a different horse today,” Smith said. “He just wasn’t happy in California because of the hives. He battled with Melatonin down the backside and just kicked it into another gear.”

Early in the Oaklawn Handicap, Melatonin led the way under Joe Talamo through a quarter-mile in :23.18 and a half-mile in :47.85, but Effinex was able to stay close early. Effinex was called for his best at the half-mile pole and the two leaders battled in the stretch with Effinex proving best. He completed the 1 1/8-mile test in 1:49 on a fast track.

“That was really nice,” trainer Jimmy Jerkens said of Effinex’s fifth stakes win. “I am very pleased with what he did today. He stayed closer to the pace than he’s used to doing. He really likes that track, and he likes it fast like that. He grabbed it right away, which I was happy to see because I thought he was going to end up losing too much ground coming out of the gate. Mike let him run a little more to cross over and that was a good job on his part.”

Effinex closed out the 2015 season with a runner-up finish to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah   in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) at Keeneland and a victory in the Clark Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.

On Saturday favored Effinex returned $5.40, $3.20, and $2.60 across the board while second-choice Melatonin paid $3.20 and $3. Longshot Point Piper finished third, paying $8 to show, while securing his first graded stakes placing.

Effinex was bred in New York by Russell S. Cohen out of the E Dubai mare What a Pear; Cohen is the racing manager for Tri-Bone, his mother Bernice Cohen’s operation.

“He did what good horses do: Just dug in. The horse has the DNA and the heart of a champion, and I’m proud of him,” Cohen said. “(Melatonin) hung in there tough. He’s a good horse, a real competitor. Effinex is really game. He’s running to his pedigree. What we do is to some degree limited.

“The horse is just plain talented. Jimmy Jerkens has done a fabulous job with the horse, all the connections. I take very little credit for it. I have a great braintrust of people surrounding me, taking advice from a lot of really smart people. The horse is who he is: a good horse.”

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