Mission Impazible, who scored the biggest win of his career at Fair Grounds exactly a year ago, returned to his winning ways with a 1 1/2–length victory over a strong field in the $400,000 New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) (VIDEO) on March 26.
Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ 4-year-old son of Unbridled's Song won the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) at Fair Grounds last March before running ninth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). The gray/roan colt missed the rest of 2010 with a knee injury and returned this season to run second in his first two starts. He put it all together in the 1 1/8-mile New Orleans Handicap, defeating multiple grade I winner Giant Oak, as well as Apart and Demarcation, who defeated him by a head last out in the Feb. 19 Mineshaft Handicap (gr. III).
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Mission Impazible stopped the clock in 1:49.02 on a fast track under Garrett Gomez. He was bred in Kentucky by Summer Wind Farm.
Breaking from post 3, Mission Impazible raced just off the pace along with Birdrun, as they raced through sensible fractions of :24.05, 48.46, and 1:12.65. Apart had a perfect stalking trip in third under Jesse Campbell and had his sights set on Mission Impazible after he came off the final turn with a commanding lead.
But Apart could not get to Mission Impazible in the final furlong, nor could Giant Oak, who came from off the pace with the same closing run that earned him the Donn Handicap (gr. I) in his last start. He was no match for the winner this time.
Apart outfought Giant Oak by a head for second in the field of eight.
"I thought that when I got to the far turn that we were going slow enough I could kind of get him on his feet and start stretching the field, and he did so,” Gomez said.
Mission Impazible, a $200,000 yearling, improved to 3-3-2 from nine starts and boosted his earnings to $798,894. He is out of the Hold Your Peace mare La Paz.
“He just likes it here," said Pletcher's assistant Mike Dilger. "He’s been very relaxed all week and the last time he came here it took him a couple of days to settle.”
The winner paid $5, $3.20, and $2.40. The exacta (3-7) returned $3.60 and the trifecta (3-7-6) was worth $74.60.
Fast Alex was fourth, followed by Birdrun, El Caballo, Demarcation, and Country Flavor.