HOT SPRINGS -- A good setup was more than enough of an assist for the winner.
Tempt Fate had the lead to himself and did what his connections and just about everyone else expected as he held on as the 3-5 favorite to win the $150,000 Nodouble Breeders' Stakes for Arkansas-bred horses 3 years old and up.
He won the 6-furlong race by 2 3/4 lengths over second-place Man in the Can in 1:10.14 before an estimated crowd of 3,800 at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort on Saturday.
Joe Talamo rode Jerry Caroom's Tempt Fate, a 4-year-old son of Hamazing Destiny trained by Carl Deville.
"I'll tell you what, Carl Deville has done a hell of a job with this horse," Talamo said.
Bandit Point, owned and trained by native Arkansan Robert Cline and ridden by Kelsi Harr, finished third, half a length behind Man in the Can and another half-length ahead of fourth-place J.E.'s Handmedown.
Deville said he was impressed by Tempt Fate's result. After slow and unsuccessful against open company at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas, and Delta Downs in Vinton, La., Tempt Fate entered the Nodouble off two fast wins against Arkansas-bred horses at Oaklawn, including a race of 6 furlongs run in 1:09.67 on March 12 in his previous start.
"He ran a big race," Deville said.
Man in the Can trainer Ron Moquett and jockey David Cabrera watched as Tempt Fate took early command through an opening quarter-mile in 22.19. Bebop Shoes was a half-length back in second and 2 lengths ahead of Man in the Can in third. Bandit Point, the contender most dependent on an entrant to push the leader, was last in the field of seven, 12 lengths off the lead.
Any hope for a speed duel was eliminated with the scratch of occasional front-runner Captain Don.
"The rider never had to ask that horse to do much the first little bit," Cline said. "He rode the horse well. Give credit where credit is due. The horse ran well, and I couldn't close the gap. I was trying, but I ran out of real estate."
Tempt Fate's lead over second-place Bebop Shoes was a head through the half in 45.61. Man in the Can was third, 1 length back, but Bandit Point remained in seventh.
Bebop Shoes would fade to fifth by the wire.
At the head of the stretch, Man in the Can had moved into second, 2 lengths back. Bandit Point was fifth, 5 1/2 lengths behind Tempt Fate.
Cabrera said he thought Man in the Can's chance to win was still intact.
"Turning for home, at the quarter pole, I thought I had [Tempt Fate]," he said. "I felt like I had plenty of horse."
Moquett said he knew better.
"I know that at Oaklawn, speed doesn't back up whenever it's that slow on the front end," Moquett said. "I was thinking that something unforeseen would have to happen before we would be able to run him down."
Man in the Can did close the gap, but Tempt Fate responded to increase his lead over the final eighth of a mile.
"Turning for home, he was all horse," Talamo said.
Moquett has trained four winners of Arkansas-bred stakes races, including Man in the Can in Oaklawn's 1 1/16-mile Arkansas Breeders' Championship last season. The $200,000 Arkansas Breeders' Championship this season is scheduled for April 30.
Man in the Can followed that with his third-consecutive win and his second against open company in a 1/16-mile race at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. In his next start, Man in the Can was injured and finished 13th and last in the Grade I Blue Grass Stakes for Kentucky Derby hopefuls at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.
Moquett said the Arkansas Breeders' Championship will allow Man in the Can to play to his strength.
"We just got through playing volleyball, and now we're going to play our sport," Moquett said.
Deville said he wants to see how Tempt Fate will take the added distance.
"We're going to see if he might go two turns now," he said. "We're going to train him a little bit and see."