Front-running Mr. Rod shook loose of his rivals leaving the final turn and held off heavily favored Bittel Road in the final furlong to win the $109,300 Generous Stakes (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) at Hollywood Park Nov. 29.
Chantel Sutherland guided Mr. Rod to the 1 1/2-length upset at odds of 6-1 in the one-mile test for 2-year-olds on the grass. The son of Scrimshaw, making his first start in a graded stakes, was timed in 1:35.04 over firm going.
Bittel Road, a grade III winner trained by Todd Pletcher, rallied belatedly for second as the 6-5 choice in the eight-horse field. A second Pletcher trainee, Hype, wound up in a deadheat for third with second choice Bourbon Bay, 2 1/4 lengths behind the runner-up.
Mr. Rod races for owner Cecil Peacock and trainer Dan Hendricks, the same connections that campaigned 2005 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Brother Derek. Mr. Rod found the winner's circle for the first time when switched to the grass Nov. 1, bettering a six-furlong maiden special weight field at Hollywood by nearly five lengths. Sutherland rode the dark bay colt for the first time that day.
"I thought he'd get the distance because the last time he galloped out so well and he accelerated from the field," said Sutherland, the Woodbine-based rider who notched her first graded stakes win in California. "It was just a matter of being left alone from the other horses. I was not moving, I was trying to be a statue on him."
"It was a good solid effort," Hendricks said. "We're very happy with him. We wanted to make sure grass was what he really wanted and see what he would do with two turns."
Mr. Rod went directly to the front in the Generous and clicked off solid fractions of :23.37, :46.71, and 1:10.88. The outsider Mensa Heat tried to increase the pressure on the front-runner on the turn, but Mr. Rod repulsed that bid and held a commanding 3 1/2-length lead at the eighth pole. Hype, racing in third and attempting to challenge on the inside for Michael Baze, was forced to check when Mensa Heat began to fall back.
Bittel Road, reserved off the early pace by Mike Smith, charged through the homestretch while four wide but never threatened Mr. Rod, who won under urging from Sutherland. Bittel Road was the most accomplished runner in the field coming into the race, having won the Bourbon Stakes (gr. IIIT) on the Keeneland turf before tiring in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf after pressing the pace and finishing eighth.
"They were going fast enough for him," Smith said. "If I could have gotten my colt to switch leads, i might have gotten up."
Mr. Rod has back-to-back wins after beginning his career with four successive losses, which included a second-place finish in the Barretts Juvenile on dirt at Fairplex Park in September. The winner's share of $69,300 pushed Mr. Rod's career bankroll to $125,755.
Bred in Kentucky by Gil Masters, Mr. Rod was a $45,000 buy at Barretts in May. He is out of Call Her Clever, by Caller I.D.
Mr. Rod paid $15.60, $5.40, and $3 while keying a $36.60 exacta with Bittel Road, who returned $2.80 and $2.10. Hype, who was coming off a 2 1/2-length maiden win at Hollywood Oct. 31, and Bourbon Bay, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, each paid $2.10 to show.
Insurgence, Mensa Heat, Battle of Hastings and Liturgical followed.