A sharp claim a year ago, Marilyn's Guy notched his first graded stakes victory March 17 at Aqueduct when he held off a game effort by San Pablo to win by a neck in the $150,000 Excelsior (gr. III) (VIDEO).
Marilyn’s Guy, a 6-year-old Yonaguska gelding, was making his second start for trainer Tony Dutrow. With C. C. Lopez aboard, the gray/roan gelding took over from pacesetter San Pablo on the turn, opened up a big lead at the top of the lane, then desperately held off a re-rallying San Pablo for the win. The final time for 1 1/8 miles on the fast inner dirt was 1:52.54.
It was the second straight time Marilyn’s Guy edged out San Pablo, as he also did so by a nose in the one-mile As Indicated Stakes Feb. 18 in his season debut. This was his first try in graded company.
Marilyn’s Guy was claimed for $50,000 in March 2011, a race at Aqueduct he won by six lengths, by Steve Asmussen for current owner Michael Dubb. He is also owned by Bethlehem Stables and Gary Aisquith.
The winner was bred in Kentucky by Chesapeake Farm and Mary Odom, and is out of the Unbridled’s Song mare Marilyn Merlot. He improved to 9-5-4 lifetime with earnings of $375,695.
San Pablo, with Cornelio Velasquez aboard for Todd Pletcher, carved out opening splits of :24 and :48.81 with Marilyn’s Guy right on his heels the whole time. As they began to enter the far turn Marilyn’s Guy swept past the pacesetter and opened up a commanding lead turning for home.
Despite being easily passed by the new leader, San Pablo methodically narrowed the margin in the final furlong and was closing ground on Marilyn’s Guy before running out of real estate at the wire.
Norman Asbjornson, the longest shot in the field of six, rallied to finish third. Favored Redding Colliery was fourth, followed by Inherit the Gold, and Birdrun .
"Today he got off good, for a change, and I was making (Velasquez) as uncomfortable as I could going down the backside," said Lopez. "When I got to the three-eighths pole, I’d already put (San Pablo) away and from there he just held on.
" He got to the eighth pole and he started to give me an indication he may not want to go quite that far, but he’s a great horse.”
Marilyn’s Guy paid $11.40, $5.70, and $3.30. The exacta (5-4) returned $37.80 and the trifecta (5-4-6) was worth $186.50.
“I was impressed and happy with what I saw today," Dutrow said. "My biggest concern was coming back in four weeks after such a long layoff. I thought he fit with these horses; I gave him a chance. He looked like he went to the lead at the three-eighths pole with plenty of horse and looked strong in the stretch, then the last sixteenth of a mile he was desperate.
"Looking ahead, I do want to let him tell us when he’s ready. He’s accomplished a lot in the last four weeks and I want to give him a little break. But he’ll stay in New York.”