This was nothing like the 56-1 stunner he pulled off in the 2009 Rebel (gr. II), but Win Willy’s one-length victory over odds-on favorite Misremembered in the $350,000 Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) (VIDEO) April 9 still qualifies as a major upset.
With Cliff Berry aboard, Win Willy overtook 2-5 Misremembered nearing the sixteenth pole and went on to post his fifth lifetime score at Oaklawn Park. Grade I winner Misremembered, who returned from a one-year layoff to win the March 6 Santana Mile in near-track record time at Santa Anita, took over from pacesetter Winslow Homer turning for home but was no match for Win Willy, who completed nine furlongs in 1:48.82 on the fast dirt.
Win Willy is owned by Jer-Mar Stable and trained by Mac Robertson. He improved to 7-4-2 from 18 starts and upped his earnings to $821,960. The 5-year-old son of Monarchos was bred in Kentucky by Overbook Farm.
The gray/roan horse was second in last year’s Oaklawn Handicap. He won the Fifth Season Stakes in his 2011 debut at Oaklawn, but had to settle for minor awards in his two other stakes starts this year.
“He showed up today,” Berry said. “Mac has changed up on how he works and he was back there, very relaxed and that was key. When I asked him around the three-eighths pole, I knew he was going to be tough to beat. It feels great to finally get the victory. Those other races the pace didn’t work out for us; that pace today really helped us out and made a difference.”
With Gabriel Saez in the irons, Winslow Homer set the pace by running splits of :23.32, :46.81, and 1:10.82 before being collared by Misremembered at the top of the lane. The son of Candy Ride seemed to be going well under Calvin Borel in upper stretch, but could not hold off the big charge from Win Willy, who was last of six after three-quarters of a mile.
“He came around those horses fine turning for home. He just got outrun today,” Borel said of Misremembered. “He ran hard this time. When I got up on him he struggled a little bit, but he ran his race. We got outrun, no other excuse besides that.”
Misremembered, trained by Bob Baffert for his wife, Jill, and George Jacobs, won the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) in 2010 before being sidelined with an injury for 12 months.
Win Willy is out of the Carson City mare City Fair.
“The way he had been training and the way horses had been making up ground today, I felt really good,” Robertson said. “He was right today. Last year, he was stopped at the three-sixteenths pole, so I'd been pointing to this race for 12 months.
“It's good enough for his owner. Mr. Myers is happy when they run hard and get third. Some owners when they finish second and third they try to come in and change things, but he's not like that.
“He will get some time off. When we bring him back we will maybe run a couple times at Delaware and see how he does. There's definitely a fall and a next year with him. If he runs well when we bring him back we will look at the Breeders' Cup and some kind of race. I know I want to get him back to Oaklawn for next year and then send him to stud.”