ARCADIA, CA – Kretz Racing’s Mr. Roary switched tactics and took advantage of the cut back in distance, using a strong late kick to upset Friday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Eddie D Stakes at Santa Anita.
Breaking well from post 9 under jockey Tyler Conner, Mr. Roary settled in near the rear while Rocket Heat set early splits of :21.03 and :43.02. Exiting off of the far turn, Mr. Roary began blazing ahead towards new leader Tribalist and caught him in the final jumps to cross first by a neck in a final time of 1:11.99.
“I know we were a longshot, but he handled everything well,” said Conner, who earned his first career Santa Anita graded stakes victory since relocating last month from Penn National, where he was the leading rider. “I thought we’d be in back, but then the field opened up, and he just kicked on. I just ran relaxed and listened to what (the trainer) asked me to do. He’s a bit of a long-striding horse, so I figured I’d just let him settle. I was sitting behind the favorite most of the way … but we got through, and when he saw daylight, he kicked on.”
Even-money favorite Om, who finished second over this same course in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, was bumped at different points in the race but still finished well to take third. Forever Juanito, Coastline, Prize Exhibit, Zarqa Star, California Diamond, and Rocket Heat completed the order of finish ahead of Guns Loaded, who reared at the start and lost jockey Rafael Bejarano.
Normally a front-runner who regularly races around two turns, trainer George Papaprodromou decided to try the 4-year-old gelding on Santa Anita’s unique 6 1/2-furlong downhill turf course.
“We just thought we’d give this race a shot,” Papaprodromou said. “He’s been running long all this time and the Eddie D. sounded good. Obviously, it worked out good, and now I’ll talk to the owner and we’ll probably look at the Breeders’ Cup Mile next. I liked this jock from the first time he stopped by my barn. He listens and he’s very professional.”
Mr. Roary returned $47.60 to win, $17.00 to place, and $6.60 to show. Tribalist brought back $4.20 to place and $3.00 to show, while Om paid $2.60 to show.