(Wells Bayou / Photo Courtesy of Oaklawn Park)

From the Oaklawn Park Media Team:

As a star wide receiver during the mid-1980s at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, Lance Gasaway is aware of injuries and the lengthy down time between seasons. Wells Bayou, co-owned by Gasaway and his father, Clint, is an equine reminder of that.

A year ago, Wells Bayou was coming off a victory in the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds and headed for the Kentucky Derby. Then COVID-19 hit, the Kentucky Derby was moved to September, Wells Bayou finished a disappointing fifth in the second division of the rescheduled $500,000 Arkansas Derby (G1) in May at Oaklawn and bone bruising sidelined the Lookin At Lucky colt for the remainder of 2020.

Wells Bayou, who is trained by Brad Cox, is scheduled to make just his second start since the Arkansas Derby in the $400,000 Oaklawn Mile for older horses Saturday at Oaklawn.

“It’s been a long, drawn-out year for Wells,” Lance Gasaway said Wednesday afternoon.

The speedy Wells Bayou, in his only start this year, ran third in the $125,000 Louisiana Stakes (G3) Jan. 16 at Fair Grounds. Wells Bayou was scratched from the $200,000 Mineshaft Stakes (G3) Feb. 13 at Fair Grounds because of a minor illness, Gasaway said, then missed the $500,000 Essex Handicap March 13 at Oaklawn with a foot issue.

“Just been one thing after another with him,” Gasaway said. “It’s horrible. We were worried about getting him back. Brad had told me: ‘He said Lance, I don’t know if we’re going to make it back, like in December.’ He just got so big. He grew so much and put so much weight on, I think it just took longer to get him in shape. Really felt good after that Louisiana Stakes. Actually, the week before the Mineshaft, he worked a :59.80 (5 furlongs) down there and Brad said, ‘Hey, he’s ready.’ We really thought we had a shot to beat Maxfield. Really did. He was training that well, then had to lay him off a month with all that other crap.”

Wells Bayou returned to Oaklawn last Sunday, according to Jorgito Abrego, who oversees Cox’s local division. Wells Bayou made three starts last year in Hot Springs, recording a powerful first-level allowance victory in his two-turn debut before finishing second in the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) and fifth behind Nadal in the second division of the Arkansas Derby.

“To be honest with you, this race, Brad thinks this is just going to be another conditioning race,” Gasaway said. “In fact, we’re still a race away from getting him back like he was. But it’s a shorter race, so we decided to give it a go. Hopefully, we’ll run good.”

The Gasaways, who grew up and still reside in southeast Arkansas, purchased Wells Bayou on the advice of bloodstock agent Liz Crow (BSW/Crow Bloodstock) for $105,000 at the 2019 Ocala Breeders’ Sales March 2-year-old in training sale. Crow brokered a deal before the Louisiana Derby to bring in BSW/Crow clients Sol Kumin (Madaket Stables) and Marc Lore (Wonder Stables) as partners in the bay son of champion Lookin At Lucky.

Clint Gasaway named Wells Bayou after a small community about 70 miles southeast of Little Rock.

Overall, Wells Bayou has a 3-1-1 record from seven lifetime starts and earnings of $872,793. Wells Bayou (4-1 on the morning line) is among nine horses entered in the Oaklawn Mile. Probable post time for the Oaklawn Mile, the ninth of 13 races, is 4:49 p.m. (Central).

Finish Lines

X-rays revealed no broken bones for jockey Rocco Bowen, who was unseated shortly after the finish of Thursday’s ninth race, his agent, Joe Steiner, said in a text message early Thursday night. Bowen, who was removed from the track by ambulance, had ridden seven winners at the meeting through Thursday. … Jockey Jon Court recorded his 698th career Oaklawn victory aboard Kat’s Hitman ($11) in Thursday’s first race for trainer Michael Hewitt. Court is trying to become the sixth rider in Oaklawn history to reach 700 career victories. … Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. recorded his 596th career Oaklawn victory in Thursday’s seventh race aboard Wild Combo ($15.40) for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and owner Spendthrift Farm. Santana is trying to become the ninth rider in Oaklawn history to reach 600 career victories. … Wild Combo was among four winners on Thursday’s nine-card card for Into Mischief, who stands at Spendthrift and was North America’s leading sire the last two years. Into Mischief was also represented by Tycoon ($8.20) for trainer Larry Jones in the third race, Candura ($16.40) for trainer John Sadler in the sixth race and favored Incorrigible ($4) for trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs and Oaklawn owner Louis Cella in the ninth race. … David Cabrera had a riding triple Thursday to move into second in the standings with 35 victories. Cabrera won the second race aboard Paynter Party ($21.40) for trainer Wesley Hawley, fifth race aboard favored Englander ($3.20) for trainer Karl Broberg and the ninth race. … Candura represented the 13th and most lucrative riding victory at the meet for newcomer Cristian Torres. It was a $105,000 allowance race. … Mexican star Letruska is scheduled to work Sunday in advance of the $1 million Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) for older fillies and mares April 17 at Oaklawn, trainer Fausto Gutierrez said. Letruska has been based at Oaklawn since her runner-up finish in the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 13. … Saqeel, who was scratched from a March 25 maiden special weights race at Oaklawn following the death of his owner, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Shadwell Stable), is entered Saturday’s 13th race at Oaklawn. Saqeel was scratched because of a mourning period for Sheikh Hamdan, deputy ruler of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, said Dan Peitz, who trains Saqeel. … Trainer Genaro Garcia won a 20-way shake, or blind draw, to claim Derby Code out of Thursday’s fourth race at Oaklawn for $10,000. Through Thursday, Day 36 of the 51-day meeting, 355 claims had totaled $6,263,750. … Carlos L., winner of the $150,000 Temperence Hill Stakes for older horses at 1 ½ miles March 13 at Oaklawn, is entered in Sunday’s ninth race at Oaklawn, a 1 ½-mile allowance event. … Oaklawn-raced Flagstaffand Special Reserve ran 1-2, respectively, in the $200,000 Commonwealth Stakes (G2) last Saturday at Keeneland.