Win Willy, a 56-1 shot, handed Old Fashioned the first loss of his career when he outfought the heavy favorite in the final eighth of a mile to win the $300,000 Rebel Stakes (gr. II) (VIDEO) at Oaklawn Park March 14.
Old Fashioned had a 2 1/2-length lead for jockey Ramon Dominguez at the furlong pole. But softened up by chasing the quick pacesetter Silver City, the grade II winner had little left when Win Willy and Cliff Berry, rallying down the center of the track, came calling. Win Willy collared Old Fashioned at the sixteenth pole and widened his advantage to 2 1/4 lengths at the wire.
The winner paid $115.60 for the $2 win and topped a $2 exacta worth $320.40 with the 2-5 favorite. The final time was 1:44.41 on a track rated 'good' for the 1 1/16-mile test of 3-year-olds.
"I really thought it was great that I might finish third or fourth," Berry said. "But once I got to the stretch, I suddenly realized 'hey, I can win this thing!'"
Trained by McLean Robertson for owners Jer-Mar Stables, Win Willy was making his stakes debut in the Rebel. The son of 2001 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Monarchos, out of City Fair (by Carson City) had won both of his prior starts on dirt, including a 1 1/2-length win at Oaklawn over an optional claiming allowance field at six furlongs in his most recent start Feb. 22. The gray colt is now 3-for-4 in his career with earnings of $210,070. The Rebel win was worth $180,000.
"After he won his last race, I thought the distance would be okay," an elated Robertson said. "This race came at the right time frame. I was fairly impressed with his last race and he did act like that the distance would be no problem. This was a home run for us and the horse."
In Old Fashioned, Win Willy was facing a Larry Jones-trained colt regarded by many as the leading candidate for this year's Derby. He had won the first four starts of his career impressively, including a 3 1/4-length triumph in the Oaklawns's Southwest Stakes (gr. III) to kick off his 3-year-old campaign Feb. 16. This was Old Fashioned's first try on an off-track.
Starting from the outside post in the field of nine, Win Willy trailed the field for the first half-mile as Old Fashioned chased Silver City for a half-mile. After splits of :22.54 and :46.07, a tugging Old Fashioned took over on the far turn, completing six furlongs in 1:11.67, and cleared off in the homestretch. But Old Fashioned was no match for the upstart Win Willy, who circled the field on the outside to reach contention. Win Willy raced greenly in deep stretch but Old Fashioned was faltering by then and could not match strides.
Jones was philosophical about Old Fashioned. "It is hard to say what happened. The track was heavy and with those kind of fractions, it was bound to catch up with him. He ran well and we are proud of what he did."
The Rebel is the second of Oaklawn Park’s three Kentucky Derby preps. The series concludes with next month’s Arkansas Derby (gr. II).
Win Willy paid $115.60, $27.40 and $11 across the board. Old Fashioned, who carried top weight of 122 pounds, returned $2.60 and $2.20. It was eight lengths to the third-place finisher Poltergeist, who was $8.20 to show.
Captain Cherokee, Silver City, Pointing Home, His Greatness, Hamazing Destiny and Wise Kid completed the order.