While you were paying attention to the Kentucky Derby trail, Silver State was winning races. While you were paying attention to the adventures of Charlatan, Maxfield, Knicks Go, Monomoy Girl, and Swiss Skydiver, Silver State was joining them in the millionaire’s club.

Silver State-Sleeper
Silver State emerged from a six-wide cavalry charge to capture Saturday’s Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap. That was his fifth consecutive victory dating to last October. (Image: Coady Photography)

The 4-year-old punched his membership ticket to that club last Saturday, winning the $1 million Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap by a half-length. The $600,000 winner’s share from that purse vaulted Silver State’s career earnings into the gilded seven-figure neighborhood at $1,230,094.

With his $990,000 in 2021 earnings, Silver State sits second on Equibase’s list of North America’s leading earners. He trails only Knicks Go’s $1.74 million.

And Silver State joined that club while you weren’t paying attention. The Oaklawn Handicap victory solidified his golden credentials as an older horse to watch. Win five consecutive races and you warrant attention – and bettors’ money.

The older Oaklawn trifecta

It’s not like the Hard Spun progeny completely sneaked up on everyone. Earlier this winter, Silver State won the one-mile Fifth Season Stakes and the 1 1/16-mile Essex Handicap at Oaklawn. Those two races serve as Oaklawn Handicap preps and, when Silver State captured them, he became the first horse to win the 1 1/8-mile Oaklawn Handicap and its two preps.

“This race is significant enough,” trainer Steve Asmussen told Oaklawn’s Robert Yates. “He’ll get the future we were hoping for. And this proves it.”

It does indeed. Silver State equaled his career-high with his 101 Beyer Speed Figure for his Oaklawn Handicap win. He hasn’t lost a race since March 21, 2020, when he finished seventh in the Louisiana Derby. And during the five-race win streak, Silver State displayed remarkable consistency. All his Beyers ranged from 97 to 101.

Silver State a giant in more ways than one

Asmussen said the development came because Silver State “is massive in size.” He needed time to figure out how to run with his body size. The conditioner took Silver State off last year’s Derby trail after that seventh at Fair Grounds. Earlier, he finished second in the Lecomte and third in one of the Risen Star divisions. So, it wasn’t like the $450,000 Keeneland September Yearling purchase in 2018 was totally overmatched by his fellow 3-year-olds.

After Asmussen pulled the Derby trail ripcord, he gave Silver State seven months off to develop. The result was stunning. The big colt came back last October and dismantled a Keeneland allowance field by seven lengths. His 109 Equibase Speed Figure bettered his Louisiana Derby number by 22 points – 87 to 109.

Five weeks later, he did it again, clocking a 109 Equibase en route to a nearly three-length victory in an allowance optional claiming race. But Silver State showed he could win the close ones too. He took the Fifth Season by a nose and the Essex by a neck. Only the 95 Equibase from the Fifth Season failed to crack triple digits.

“We’ve always loved his talent level,” said Asmussen, who hasn’t set a date for Silver State’s next race.

When he sets that date, pay attention. The radar on this hidden gem is no longer jammed.

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