Ridden by Orlando Bocachica for trainer Marcus Vitali, Lochte rated in third behind the steady pace set by Tetradrachm
, who was pursued throughout by Amira's Prince
. When a gap opened on the rail in early stretch Lochte willingly charged through to dispatch Tetradrachm and drew off to score by 2 3/4 lengths.
Imagining, last early in the eight-horse field,
swiftly closed ground while rallying wide to snatch second by three-quarters of a length from third-place finisher Amira's Prince.
, the 2-1 choice, had traffic troubles and finished seventh.
For the unlikely triumph, Lochte paid $80.60, $25 and $12 and Imagining returned $6 and $4.80. They combined for an exacta payout of $381.60. Amira's Prince paid $3.80 as the 5-2 second choice in the field of eight.
Lochte was timed in 1:45.67 for 1 1/8 miles on a firm course.
Breaking from the inside post, Lochte raced forwardly as Tetradrachm took up the early running and posted fractions of 23.40, :47.70, and 1:11.42 through six furlongs while maintaining a clear lead from Amira's Prince. Saving ground on the far turn as Bocachica waited for clear running room, Lochte pounced when urged and bid to the inside of Tetradrachm before seizing control at the furlong marker and driving clear.
Settled into a comfortable tempo at the back of the field early, Imagining steadily advanced under Joel Rosario, who angled him five wide on the home turn. Charging determinedly on the outside, he powered past Amira's Prince to wrest second.
Bocachica said he could feel the power of his mount nearing the turn.
"Before the turn, I knew I still had some horse (under me)," he said of Lochte. "Vitali told me he was a really nice horse. I was just waiting and waiting to have the room. When I had the room to ask him, he was there for me. He just ran his race. He (Lochte) was nice to me. He never had any trouble, and I never had to check him. He was in the right spot and I was just waiting to have the clear and the moment for him to run his race."
Lochte, bred in Kentucky by Maura Gittins, is a 4-year-old gelding by Medaglia d'Oro
out of stakes winner Lemon Kiss, by Lemon Drop Kid
. He came into the race off an allowance optional claiming victory going 1 1/16 miles Jan. 24 at Gulfstream and has won three of his past four races. He broke his maiden at Gulfstream two starts prior to the Jan. 24 effort going the same distance Dec. 14 while making his seventh career start.
Despite what his runner looked like on paper, Vitali said Lochte was ready to take on top competition.
"I talked it over with the owner and we were taking our chance here," he said. "His numbers were going up and up. Myself and my staff, we all felt really comfortable with the horse's progress. The breeding shows he can get the job done. I didn't see any reason why he couldn't accomplish great things. I didn't go into this expecting to come out on top, but I surely hoped I would. Everything unfolded the right way, and here we are."
Bocachica and Vitali both enjoyed breakthrough wins at the grade I level with Lochte's victory.
"I think he's my new favorite horse," Bocachica quipped.
Lochte, who is from the family of 1991 Horse of the Year Black Tie Affair, was a $475,000 yearling purchase by Anthony Stroud, who snagged him out of the Darby Dan Farm, agent, consignment at the 2011 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select sale. He made his first five starts for Darley Stable before Crossed Sabres Farm acquired him.