I'll Have Another wins Lewis at 43-1
ARCADIA, Calif (AP)
With trouble unfolding behind him, 43-1 shot I’ll Have Another went on to stunning upset in the $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes, surprising his trainer and owner as much as the bettors.
The longest shot in the field of eight 3-year-olds won by 2-3/4 lengths Saturday at Santa Anita, with Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s two colts finishing out of the money.
“Oh my God that was nice,” trainer Doug O’Neill said in the winner’s circle, squeezing owner Paul Reddam. “He’s always trained fantastic, but we never saw this coming.”
I’ll Have Another ran 1-1/16 miles in 1 minute, 40.84 seconds under Mario Gutierrez and paid $88.60 for a $2 win bet.
Empire Way, a son of 2003 Kentucky Derby runner-up Empire Maker, was second.
Gutierrez was aboard I’ll Have Another for the first time after exercising him in the morning only once.
“I love this kid,” O’Neill said.
I’ll Have Another came in off a five-month layoff and was running two turns for the first time. The colt had sore shins after he lost in the slop in the Hopeful at Saratoga in September, leading to the layoff.
“He hasn’t missed a beat since then,” O’Neill said.
I’ll Have Another is named for Reddam’s response to his wife’s nightly query of “Do you want any more cookies?” as he lies on the couch. He paid $35,000 for the colt.
“I was probably the only one who wanted to run here,” Reddam said. “We didn’t know how good he was off his 2-year-old form.”
O’Neill added, “Paul likes putting up the money and taking chances.”
Reddam demurred when asked about taking a shot at the May 5 Kentucky Derby. He’s had four previous Derby runners, including two trained by O’Neill.
“We want to take a lot of time until his next race,” he said. “Everyone wants to be in Kentucky, but so many things happen between this race and Kentucky.”
Liaison, the 3-2 favorite trained by Baffert, got squeezed in the stretch and clipped eels with Groovin’ Solo. That caused Liaison's rider, Rafael Bejarano, to fall passing the eighth pole. Bejarano was sore but not injured. Baffert’s other entry, 7-2 shot Sky Kingdom, finished sixth.
“This was a weird run race,” Baffert said. “(Liaison) was up there, but he was a little fresh. He got rank with him and then he was trying to get him to relax and get back, but he just emptied out.”
After a stewards’ inquiry, Groovin’ Solo, ridden by Victor Espinoza, was disqualified from third to last for getting in the way of Liaison, and Rousing Sermon was moved up to third.
“I thought the inside horse (Isn’t He Clever) moved out,” Espinoza said. “I tried to help as much as I can. When another guy asks for help I move out as much as I can.”
Isn’t He Clever and Corey Nakatani finished fifth after drifting out in midstretch.
Bejarano said he had room between horses when making his move, then saw Groovin’ Solo lugging in, so he yelled to let Espinoza he was there.
“He tried to correct his horse, but at the same time when he corrected his horse, he was just coming in too much,” Bejarano said. “The horse on the inside (Isn’t He Clever) didn’t even give me a chance to check his horse because he was coming out, too. He just kept going and was coming out little by little, but he didn’t even try to check his horse. That’s why it felt so tight and I clipped heels.”
In the $200,000 Strub Stakes, 7-1 shot Ultimate Eagle romped to a 7-1/4-length victory in his first start on dirt, with jockey Martin Pedroza stroking his horse’s mane as they crossed the finish line. The 4-year-old colt ran 1-1/8 miles in 1:47.08 and paid $17.
“Without a doubt, this is the best horse,” Pedroza said. “He’s like a freak. Believe me, this horse is just learning how to run.”
Baffert’s duo of Jaycito and Prayer for Relief — both owned by Ahmed Zayat — finished 2-3, with 4-5 favorite Tapizar fourth.
In the $150,000 Arcadia Stakes, Mr. Commons came from off the pace to beat Willyconker by a length under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith.
Smith angled Mr. Commons down toward the rail in midstretch, found a hole between horses and took the lead under Smith’s urging to beat older horses for the first time. The 4-year-old colt ran one mile on the turf in 1:33.41 and paid $2.80 as the 2-5 favorite for trainer John Shirreffs.
“He loves to be in the pocket, so I took the chance,” Smith said. “I have so much confidence he’ll go wherever I point him, and he did. He went through another tight hole again and did it with a lot of courage.”
Ireland-bred Willyconker was second, and Massone was another half-length back in third. There was a stewards’ inquiry into the stretch run, but there were no changes to the order of finish.