It had been mostly tough sledding for the eight-year-old Hawaakom following his second-place finish to eventual Horse of the Year Gun Runner in the 2017 Razorback H. (G3) at Oaklawn Park, but without the world’s best dirt horse in the field for Monday’s $500,000 renewal, the gelding did darn well.
Settled near the back early and riding the rail under Corey Lanerie, Hawaakom made up a considerable ground on the far turn, squeezed through a narrow opening inside of tiring leader Rocking the Boat approaching the sixteenth pole, and burst late to win the 1 1/16-race by 3 1/4 lengths over a muddy track in a time of 1:45.14.
Owned by Stephen Smoot and trainer Wes Hawley, Hawaakom returned $20.80 for his, and Hawley’s, first graded stakes win. Hawaakom is now the oldest horse ever to win the Razorback.
“Lanerie up the rail! I couldn’t believe it,” said Hawley, who indicated he might rest Hawaakom until the $750,000 Oaklawn H. (G2) over nine furlongs on April 14.
Leofric, who raced between rivals in the second flight most of the way, exchanged bumps with 2-1 favorite Untrapped in upper stretch and eventually got the better of all save the winner, with 33-1 chance Rocking the Boat holding third. A claim of foul against Leofric by the rider of Untrapped, who finished fourth, was disallowed.
The order of finish was completed by Futile, Rated R Superstar, The Lieutenant, Far Right, Shotgun Kowboy, Sonneteer, and J Boys Echo.
Hawaakom earned his first stakes win in the $200,000 West Virginia Governor’s at Mountaineer and also placed in the Fayette (G2), Greenwood Cup (G3), and Lukas Classic that season.
Kicking off 2017 with a score in the $73,000 Louisiana at Fair Grounds over Dazzling Gem, a sharp allowance winner at Oaklawn on Monday, Hawaakom then ran a clear second in the Razorback to Gun Runner. However, he missed the board in his next five starts, but showed a sign of better form last time when third in his Louisiana title defense. He’s now earned $925,405 from a line of 40-9-7-8.
Bred in Kentucky by Shadwell Farm, Hawaakom is a son of Belmont S. (G1) winner Jazil and the Group 2-placed stakes winner Nafisah, a daughter of Lahib that has also raised Group 3 winner Snaafy. Hawaakom’s third dam was the Irish champion Al Bahathri.