Jockey Julie Krone and 53-1 shot Debonair Joe burst through the stretch five-wide to post a stunning neck victory over F J's Pace in the $100,000 Vernon O. Underwood Stakes (gr. III) at Hollywood Park Saturday.
Krone said she was riding for a check when the Debonair Joe, the longest price in the field of nine, willingly moved into contention in the stretch.
"I threw a cross at him, and then I thought, 'Oh my goodness, I'd better find some place to run. He's going to win,'" Krone told TVG.
Debonair Joe, a 3-year-old gelding by Ole', was claimed four starts ago from Craig Lewis for $12,5000 by trainer Juan Pablo Silva for owner Lynne H. Ristad. He won for the third time since that claim.
The winner was well off the solid pace set by F J's Pace through a quarter-mile of :22.06, :44.60 for the half and :56.68 for five furlongs.
In the stretch, old-timer Men's Exclusive, the 9-year-old gelding seeking his third straight victory in the Underwood, increased the pressure on F J's Pace, getting to within a neck of that one. F J's Pace responded to the challenge, but could not hold off the late run of Debonair Joe, who came flying under left-handed urging from Krone.
F J's Pace held onto second with American System nosing out Men's Exclusive for the show. The final time was 1:09.17.
"Juan (Silva) was very confident in the horse," Krone said. "He said 'I know he's a longshot but he's doing so good.' He was absolutely speechless."
A shocked Silva, who picked up his second win of the Hollywood Park meeting, said, "This is the biggest dream I've ever had. (Krone) did exactly what I told her to do and we got lucky."
Mellow Fellow, the 2-1 favorite, was forced to take up badly at the start, and was never a factor.
Debonair Joe won his fifth race in 17 career starts. The $60,000 purse increased his earnings to more than $194,000.
The winner paid $107.60, $28.20 and $9.60. F J's Pace returned $5.40 and $3.40. American System paid $3.20 to show. Debonair Joe keyed a $2 exacta of $710.20 and a trifecta of $2,935.40.