Front-running Really Mr Greely, the longest shot among four entrants from trainer Bob Baffert in the $100,000 Hollywood Prevue Stakes (gr. III), prevailed over odds-on favorite Super Ninety Nine by half a length in the Thanksgiving Day feature at Betfair Hollywood Park Nov. 22 (VIDEO).
Ridden by Julien Leparoux for owners Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman, 2-year-old Really Mr Greely became the initial stakes winner for first-crop sire Horse Greeley, who captured the 2006 Del Mar Futurity (gr. II). Horse Greeley stands at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky.
All but one of five starters in this year's Prevue, a major steppingstone to next month's CashCall Futurity (gr. I) at Hollywood, were trained by Baffert. The Hall of Fame conditioner swept the top four spots.
"When you have that many horses in the same race, all you can do is tell the jockeys to stay out of each other's way," said Jim Barnes, Baffert's assistant, "and Julien did the best of staying out of the way. I knew he (Really Mr Greely) was fast, but you never know until they break. All four of them are good horses."
Really Mr Greely, coming off a 7 1/2-length maiden triumph over $100,000 claimers at Santa Anita Park Nov. 4, completed seven furlongs on the Cushion Track in 1:22.84 at odds of 11-1.
After an even break, Really Mr Greely sped to the early lead by 1 1/2 lengths over stablemate Z Big Apple while getting the opening quarter mile in :22.74. He maintained his advantage as he reached the half-mile point in :46.31. The filly Heir Kitty, the only entrant in the field not from the Baffert barn, advanced along the inside to press the leader into the turn. Meanwhile, Super Ninety Nine, the 4-5 favorite in the short field, advanced on the outside for Rafael Bejarano leaving the bend after contentedly racing off the early pace.
Super Ninety Nine looked poised to sweep by the leaders in the drive, but Really Mr Greely had more to give and responded gamely to repel his challenger under urging from Leparoux.
"I wanted to be on the lead," Leparoux said. "He relaxed well and left me alone, which was beautiful, and when I asked him to go he answered nice. At the three-eighths pole, I felt they were coming at me, so I asked him to start going, and he never really stopped."
Shakin It Up , the last of Baffert's group, rallied from last at mid-stretch to get third on the far outside under Martin Garcia, just a neck behind Super Ninety Nine. Z Big Apple was fourth, followed by Heir Kitty.
The winner paid $24.60, $7.20, and $2.80, combining with Super Ninety Nine ($2.80, $2.10) for a $68.40 exacta. The show price on Shakin It Up was $2.10.
Super Ninety Nine won his debut impressively Oct. 7 at Santa Anita Park and was second favorite for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint Nov. 2. However, he was cast in his stall the night before the race and had to be scratched.
"No excuses," Bejarano said of the favorite. "He ran well and everybody (from Baffert's barn) ran well. We knew they all had a chance."
Really Mr Greely began his career Oct. 20 at Santa Anita, finishing fourth in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight, a race won by Zayat Stables' Z Big Apple in his debut. Dropped into claiming ranks for his return two weeks later, he drew off for an impressive score after dueling on the early lead three wide. He earned $60,000 for the Preuve win and has now banked $85,620.
Bred in Kentucky by David Richardson, Mike Chipman, and Michael Hernon, Really Mr Greely is out of the winning Forest Camp mare Mattie Camp. The dark bay or brown colt sold for $40,000 as a 2-year-old in training at the Ocala Breeders' Sale Co. in April.