Radical Riley, a Jacks or Better Farm Inc. homebred, rallied through the stretch to win the $100,000 What A Pleasure Stakes (gr. III) on a sloppy track Saturday at Calder. Under Eduardo Nunez, the gray 2-year-old son of Wheaton stopped the timer in 1:48.33, defeating 7-5 favorite Outofthebox by a neck. It was another 3/4-lengths back to 34-1 longshot Horrible Evening. Rocket Ryan finished fourth, followed by Mr Notebook, Sea Leon, River Styx, Formal Salute, Financial Diplomat, Sea Strike, and Son of Arazi.
Mr Notebook set moderate opening fractions while a length ahead of Financial Diplomat through a quarter-mile in :24.09 and Horrible Evening through a half in :48.95. Horrible Evening moved up to challenge after six furlongs run in 1:14.39 and assumed a short lead early in the stretch run. Radical Riley swung off the rail and soon gained control, holding off a fast-closing Outofthebox at the wire.
"I had a nice trip, close to the lead," said Nunez. "I was in the clear and then I asked him to go. They tried to get him, but it was too late. The 10 (Outofthebox) was coming, but all he made me do was go to the inside and save some ground. This horse is nice."
Radical Riley earned his first career win in his fourth attempt, a $40,000 claiming race at Calder in August. After a second-place finish in an allowance race he then took on stakes company for four starts, finishing second twice and seventh twice. In his most recent start prior to the What A Pleasure, he won a seven-furlong allowance race by 9 3/4 lengths on a sloppy track at Calder. The Florida-bred is trained by James Hatchett.
"I think he's just coming around and learning what it's all about," said Hatchett. "When he first came to me before he ever started, he showed us he had ability in the mornings, but he didn't run very well the first few times. Today, it worked out perfect with the rain. That's what we wanted. We knew he loves a wet-fast track under him. We'll look at the Tropical Park Derby (gr. III) and see whether it goes on the turf and make a decision."
Radical Riley paid $29.60, $8.60 and $5.40. Outofthebox returned $4.20 and $3.60. Horrible Evening was worth $8.80 to show. The exacta paid $95.20. (Chart, Equibase