For the second consecutive year, an Arlington Park invader making his third career start, Coach Jimi Lee, surprised racing fans at Hoosier Park by taking the $100,000 Hoosier Juvenile Saturday at Hoosier Park.
Last year, Cashel Castle was the Arlington colt with only two career starts and no stakes experience that got away with the victory.
Coach Jimi Lee, off at 6-1, and rider Randy Meier wasted no time getting into the game early. They busted to the top from post eight in the nine-horse lineup. Once established as the leader, the 2-year-old son of Roar never let up through the six-furlong sprint.
"He (Coach Jimi Lee) broke out of the gate very fast and didn't waste any time," said Meier, who has more than 4,000 career victories. "I was expecting more company early, but I knew I was sitting on quite a bit of horse."
In the stretch, Coach Jimi Lee drew clear from the competition, coasting under the wire by more than four lengths. Mr. Whitestone and Justin Vitek came the quickest from off the pace to finish second over 6-5 favorite Private Gold and Shane Sellers, who endured traffic trouble at times to finish third.
"He has an automatic push button style and I didn't have to get after him at all," Meier said. "He opened up on the field bigger than I thought he would in the stretch. I didn't think we would be all alone for the win at the wire."
Co-owned by trainer James Divito with Lee Battaglia, Coach Jimi Lee was making his first try against stakes company. The Kentucky-bred gelding is now two for three with his only loss coming in his first start to Sharp Impact, who went on to win the $75,000 Spectacular Bid Stake at Arlington Park in September. With his most recent trip to the winner's circle, Coach Jimi Lee now has more than $83,000 to his credit.
Coach Jimi Lee paid $15.40, $7.80 and $4.40. Mr. Whitestone returned $10.80 and $5. Private Gold paid $2.80.