HOT SPRINGS, AR – Willis Horton Racing’s homebred Long Range Toddy waited until just the right moment before exploding in the stretch and rallying to upset the first of two runnings of the Rebel Stakes (G2) on Saturday at Oaklawn Park.
Breaking from post 2 at 8/1 odds under Jon Court for the first time, Long Range Toddy settled along the rail in midpack while Classy John and Extra Hope dueled through opening fractions of :23.77, :47.58, and 1:11.97. The 2/5 favorite Improbable swung four-wide through the far turn and slingshot himself to the lead, and for a few moments, the bettors’ choice looked to have a strong shot at the win. Behind him, however, Court waited until the right moment before unleashing Long Range Toddy. Gaining considerable momentum in midstretch, Long Range Toddy collared Improbable in the shadow of the wire before sticking his neck ahead for the win. The Steve Asmussen trainee’s victory for the 1 1/16-mile main track event came in a final time of 1:42.49.
“I was able to get settled and hoped I had left enough for a big punch,” Court said. “I also hoped I hadn’t let him get to far in front. Believe me, I was sweating bullets, but I had a lot of confidence in him. I had watched his races and I had worked him before the race. It’s great when a plan comes together as well as this one did.”
Multiple stakes winner Galilean was perfectly positioned along the rail but couldn’t keep up with the top two and finished third, 2 1/4 lengths behind. Extra Hope faded to fourth, with the rest of the field strung out behind him. Easy Shot took fifth over Ninth Street, while Classy John faded steadily in the stretch to complete the order of finish. Corruze and Proud Nation were both scratched.
The Rebel is part of the Road to the 2019 Kentucky Derby prep race season. Long Range Toddy earned 38 points for the win, with Improbable receiving 15 for second, Galilean 8 for third, and Extra Hope 4 for fourth.
“We thought it was a good race (before seeing the replay),” trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said of Galilean. “I think we got away a little bit slow. I don’t know what happened there in the middle of the race. Trying to figure that out.”
Long Range Toddy’s win was his first since taking the Springboard Mile Stakes last December. The 3-year-old son of Take Charge Indy now sports a record of 7-4-1-1 with $851,125 earned.
“The horse is doing extremely well,” Asmussen said. “He stepped up. Jon gave him a beautiful trip today and I love how he earned it late. The horse is extremely kind. Jon worked him the other day and his comment was that he was push-button. The horse was away well and got a good spot. They went about their business and he relaxed down the backstretch. You could tell coming into the stretch he was loaded. He waited until they all lined out, didn’t waste any ground, and wheeled him out late like he should and got rewarded for it.”
Long Range Toddy returned $18.80 to win, $4.20 to place, and $2.60 to show. Improbable brought back $2.40 to place and $2.10 to show, while Galilean paid $2.40 to show.