After stalking the leaders, favored Wesley seized the lead at the top of the lane and proved a comfortable winner of the $100,000 Miami Mile Handicap (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) on the turf at April 25 Calder Race Course.
Trainer Mark Hennig added blinkers to the equipment for Wesley, who overcame the far outside post in completing a 1 1/2-length victory. Five scratches reduced the original field of 12 to seven.
Javier Castellano guided the 4-year-old son of El Prado to victory for owners J. Paul Reddam and Willmott Stables. Wesley earned his first win since taking the Hall of Fame Stakes (gr. IIT) over 3-year-olds last Aug. 4 at Saratoga.
“I’m glad we put the blinkers on him," Hennig said by phone from New York. "I think it helped a lot today. Without them, he might have gotten too far back off that pace to be able to overcome it."
Mambo Meister, ridden by Manoel Cruz, rallied for second by 1 1/4 lengths over Fearless Eagle and Elvis Trujillo. The winning time was 1:36.31 on a firm course.
Castellano had Wesley well-placed three wide on the outside from the start as outsider Granizo, pushed along by Baron Von Tap, set slow fractions of :25.49 and :50.06. Baron Von Tap inherited the lead early on the final turn as the Brazilian-bred Granizo gave way, completing six furlongs in 1:13.03. The slight advantage didn't last long, however, when the poised favorite responded when asked to take command in the homestretch.
“I know they went very slow fractions and that made it look like he was overly aggressive, but the truth is he was just more focused and professional today," said Castellano, who also won the La Prevoyante Handicap (gr. IIT) aboard Criticism two races earlier. "The reason for that is because he was wearing blinkers. The change of equipment really made a difference and he seemed more mature to me.”
Mambo Meister was in tight when crowded by the retreating pacesetter on the turn but finished up well while second best. Fearless Eagle rallied three wide to challenge but ran out of gas late. Baron Von Tap held for fourth, followed by Vanquisher, Rogue Victory, and Granizo.
Wesley ended a five-race losing streak while improving his overall mark to 4-2-0 from 13 starts. His earnings stand at $273,890 with the winning purse of $60,760. Wesley was coming off a seventh-place finish following a wide trip in the Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap (gr. IIT) on "good" turf March at Fair Grounds.
"He’s by El Prado and still maturing," Hennig said. "He had a tough trip in his last race. I think we can look forward to a good year from him. There are all kinds of options for him up here.”
Domino Stud of Lexington bred the gray/roan colt in Kentucky. Out of the Alysheba mare Moving Picture, Wesley sold for $450,000 as a September sale yearling at Keeneland in 2006.
Wesley carried 115 pounds and paid $6.80, $3.80, and $2.80. Mambo Meister, the second choice of bettors, returned $3.60 and $2.80 and completed a $2 exacta worth $33.20 in his first start since Jan. 21 for trainer Philip Gleaves. Fearless Eagle, coming off a win in the Tampa Bay Turf Classic, paid $3.40 to show.
Cenzontle, Finallymadeit, Motovato, Scientist, and Dream Maestro scratched.