Glen C. Warren's surprising Candid Glen moved to the front in the stretch and held off a stampede to the wire by a neck to score a stunning 84-1 upset in Sunday's $650,000 Explosive Bid Handicap (gr. IIT) at Fair Grounds.
A three-way photo for second revealed three noses separating, in order, 6-5 favorite Rouvres, Freefourinternet and Seinne behind Candid Glen, a 6-year-old gelding who registered the biggest win of his 34-race career and the largest upset in the history of Fair Grounds' Spring Festival of Racing
Ridden by Elvis Perrodin and trained by Andrew Leggio Jr., Candid Glen covered the about 1 1/8-mile distance on the turf in 1:51.
"Let's just say I was nervous," trainer Andrew Leggio said of the race's final strides. "I was very confident going into the race. E.J. (Perrodin) kept him close to the front because with the slow pace you have to be in that position. My horse may be little in stature, but he is mighty in heart."
After getting to the rail early, Candid Glen raced off the pace of Della Francesca and Century City, who dueled through fractions of :24, :48 2/5 and 1:12 2/5. He ranged up into contention on the inside in the final turn and angled out in the stretch, getting first run on a wall of late comers as he passed the tiring leaders in mid-stretch. He proved best in an all-out drive.
Rouvres, with Jerry Bailey riding, was reserved early, eased to the outside on the backstretch and continued racing wide around the far turn, going six-wide as they hit the stretch. The French-bred, making his second start in the United States for Alec Head and trainer Christophe Clement, had dead aim on the winner in the closing sixteenth of a mile, but was outkicked. Freefourinternet, battling Candid Glen on the inside, and Seinne, on the far outside, also brought strong closing runs, but could not get to the winner.
"I had a good trip, but I decided to give up position and stay out of trouble," Rouvres jockey Jerry Bailey said. "That forced me two wide to the winner. That may have cost me the race."
Candid Glen won for just the second time in nine starts on the Fair Ground lawn. But he had proved effective at the distance. This was his fifth win in 12 tries at nine furlongs.
Winner of the Connally Breeders' Cup Handicap at 1 1/8 mile at Houston in his last start on Feb. 15, he won for the tenth time in his career, picking up a winner's share of $390,000 for Warren, a Jackson, Miss. neurologist. That pushed his career earnings way over the $1 million mark to $1,195,130.
"He never really gets any respect here because he hasn't run very good over this course," Warren said. "People say he never liked this track real good, but when they moved the rail in and rolled it, then it was his kind of turf. They changed it to where it was just like Sam Houston."
Candid Glen was a close fifth in last year's Candid Glen. His last win over the Fair Grounds' Stall-Wilson turf course came in the 2001 Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup Handicap, when he paid $52.40 to win.
"Last time in Houston I wanted to be a lot closer to the pace," Perrodin said. "As it turned out he liked that position. It made him more competitive. I find that he definitely likes to put his head in front as opposed to making one run. He made the lead and when they came to him he went again. He fought hard all the way. He has one big heart."
By El Gran Senor out of the Pirate's Bounty mare bred Candid Moments, the dark bay or brown gelding was bred in Kentucky by W. Kenan Rand Jr.
Candid Glen, the longest shot in the field, paid $170.20, $33 and $14.80. Rouvres returned $3.60 and $2.80. Freefourinternet's show price was $14. The $2 exacta was worth $524.20, a $2 trifecta was $6,573.60, and the $2 superfecta returned a mammoth payment of $75,818.20.