Irish Dreamer, a $1,500 Ocala Breeders' Sale colt, stormed to a decisive upset victory in the $50,000 Dixieland Stakes on opening day at Oaklawn Park Friday before a crowd of 20,070.
The Dixieland, a 5 1/2-furlong dash for 3-year-olds, was turned upside down at the start when Officer Rocket, the 9-5 favorite, broke in a tangle, spotting the field several lengths. The Bob Holthus-trained colt did manage to rally to finish fourth to Irish Dreamer, who last summer was beaten a combined 40 lengths by Officer Rocket in a pair of stakes at Arlington Park.
This was the second straight year a Chicago shipper upset Oaklawn's opening-day feature. Last year Celluloid Hero rallied down the rail to win by a half-length at double-digits.
With newcomer Eusebio Razo Jr. aboard, Kalarikkal and Vilasini Jayaraman's Irish Dreamer, a Sahm colt trained by Chris Richard, split horses in the upper stretch, seized the lead leaving the furlong grounds, and drew off by 3 1/4 lengths in 1:04 2/5 over a fast strip.
Irish Dreamer paid $33.60, $15 and $8.60, topping a $346.40 exacta and a $2,642.80 ($1) trifecta.
First Regent ($13.60, $9.40), sent off the same price as the winner, finished well for second under Stewart Elliott, and Sir Five Star ($6.60), under Justin Shepherd, checked in third, three-quarters of a length behind the runnerup, and a half-length before the troubled Officer Rocket.
The field for the Dixieland was reduced to 11 due to the program scratches of Tortuga Straits and Harrow Land.
Earlier on the card, jockey Terry Thompson posted the 1,999th victory of his career aboard Wildwood Pegasus.