Mitchell Ranch's Argentine-bred Iron Halo pulled away from favored Taiaslew in the stretch for his first win the United States, a 2 1/4-length upset victory in Saturday's $100,000 Phoenix Gold Cup Handicap for sprinters at Turf Paradise.
The 5-year-old Halo Sunshine horse, ridden by Joel Campbell engaged the 3-2 favorite, Taiaslew, and last year's Gold Cup winner, Giovannetti, on the turn for home and motored home in 1:08 2/5 for the six furlongs. Late-running R. Baggio came on for second by a half-length over Taiaslew, who set lively fractions of :21 4/5, :44 1/5 and 56 before giving way under Glenn Corbett.
Taiaslew spotted the winner 10 pounds while carrying high weight of 123.
Grimm was fourth as Giovannetti faded to fifth, 10 1/2 lengths behind the winner.
Iron Halo, who was group I-placed a number of times in his native Argentina, was making his stakes debut in the United States. He had lost three previous races on the Southern California circuit, although he was coming off his best effort, a second-place finish by a neck in a Santa Anita allowance race Feb. 25.
Trained by Eric Kruljac, he was sent off at 9-1, paying $20.40, $7.80 and $5.60. R. Baggio returned $6.40 and $4. Taiaslew's show was $3.
Iron Halo earned $60,000 for the victory while improving his career line to 2-3-2 in 11 starts. He has won $79,045.
Fonz's and Our Bobby V. both scratched from the Gold Cup.