Gary Barber's Jack Milton went from last to first to claim his first grade I score in the $300,000 Maker's 46 Mile (gr. IT), tracking down longshot Aripeka in the lane April 10 at Keeneland (VIDEO).
Off at 9-2 odds, the 5-year-old son of War Front sat last in the seven-horse field, 4 1/2 lengths behind early leader Long On Value after an opening quarter-mile in :23.89 and 5 1/2 back after a half in :47.42. He moved up to sixth when Long On Value covered six furlongs in 1:12, then went seven wide in the final turn to rally for a 2 1/4-length victory.
"I really like the way (it set up today)," jockey Javier Castellano said. "He's a come-from-behind horse and it was a beautiful pace—I think it went pretty quick early in the race. It set up perfect (for) a come-from-behind horse. He had a good kick today."
Jack Milton completed the mile in 1:36.30 on a turf course rated soft under Castellano for trainer Todd Pletcher. It was the third win for each on Keeneland's Friday card.
"It was pretty special—special for everybody," Pletcher assistant Tristan Barry said. "We had two plans. If he broke well, we were going to sit close to the pace and pounce. If he didn't, we were going to sit back and make one run. Plan B worked well."
Favored Summer Front , off at odds of 6-5, tracked the early leader and appeared to get a dream rail trip when Long On Value came out of the final turn wide, but faded to finish sixth, 7 1/4 lengths behind the winner. Long On Value hung on to finish third, a head behind Aripeka.
""It seemed like he was struggling a little bit at the end," Summer Front's jockey, Victor Espinoza, said. "It was a little too soft for him. I was sitting patiently with him all the way around. It was wide open for me, but when it was time to go, he struggled a little bit."
Jack Milton returned $11.20, $6.20, and $4. Aripeka delivered $10.40 and $4.20, while Long On Value paid $4 to show.
Bred in Kentucky by Cherry Valley Farm out of the Forty Niner mare Preserver, Jack Milton improved his record to 5-1-5 from 15 career starts and now has $751,161 in career earnings.
Prior to the Maker's 46, Jack Milton's only other graded victories came in the mile Poker Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park last May and the 2013 Transylvania Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland.