Robert Yagos’ Spotsgone broke on the lead for 60-year-old Hall of Fame jockey Earlie Fires and never looked back en route to a 2 1/4-length victory over 6-5 favorite Lewis Michael in the $100,000 Hanshin Cup (gr. III) (VIDEO) on Saturday at Arlington Park.
The Kentucky-bred son of Bright Launch--Double's Lass (Mr. Leader) was sent off at odds of 81-1 and returned $165, $38 and $9.60. The one-mile event was the first graded stakes run over Arlington’s Polytrack and was timed in a meet’s best 1:33.72.
Trained by William “Jinks” Fires, Spotsgone was not initially pointed for the Hanshin, but circumstances led to the 4-year-old colt being entered.
“We had entered him in a couple of allowance races here and at Churchill but neither one of them went,” explained the trainer. “We had nominated him here so we went for it. We thought he’d run well, but he’d never been on the Polytrack, so we were a little skeptical about that. He doesn’t like horses on the outside of him and Earlie didn’t let that happen.”
Quick from the gate, Spotsgone took the lead shortly after the start and led through fractions of :23.38, :45.61, 1:09.95 and 1:21.05. He opened a clear lead in the stretch and was increasing the advantage as he reached the wire.
The Hanshin was the first graded stakes win for Spotsgone, whose overall record improved to five wins from 23 starts. The $57,000 winner’s share boosted his bankroll to $227,742. Spotsgone, coming off a fourth-place finish in an optional claiming event at Oaklawn Park April 13, snapped a four-race losing streak while winning for the third time in nine tries at the one-mile distance.
Always within striking distance, Lewis Michael was stuck three wide on the turn and could not put together a winning move, finishing second best while two lengths clear of Gouldings Green. He returned $3.40 and $2.80 and completed a $660.60 exacta.
“I don’t know what to say. I thought I rode a perfect race, but, of course I’m not happy with the result,” said Rene Douglas, who rode Lewis Michael. “I didn’t want to look like a fool chasing a horse that’s 80-1, so I was happy with my horse’s position. The other horse just didn’t come back to me. It’s just one of those things.”
Gouldings Green, the defending champion, rallied late under Larry Sterling Jr. and finished third in the 10-horse field, paying $4.20.
“I was sitting about fourth or fifth behind Lewis Michael," Sterling said. "They were smoking on the front end so I thought I was in a great spot but my horse just didn’t finish as well as I would have liked.”
Fort Prado, Buddy Got Even, High Expectations, Throng, Purim, Barbican and Star by Design completed the order of finish.