Gilman Racing, Westside Rentals.com, and W.C. Racing's homebred Denman's Call made a bold move in the turn and wore down favored Masochistic in the stretch to spring a 16-1 upset in the $400,000 Triple Bend Stakes (G1) March 11 at Santa Anita Park.
The Northern Afleet gelding, who came into the Triple Bend with only a debut win to his credit from January of 2016, raced in third as Masochistic cruised on the front with an easy lead, then found room on the inside entering the stretch and finished a length ahead of the 1-2 favorite.
Masochistic, who won the Triple Bend in 2015, set fractions of :22.94 and :45.22 through a half-mile before the Doug O'Neill-trained Denman's Call finished off the seven furlongs in 1:20.94 under jockey Tyler Baze, who was once the regular rider for Masochistic.
"(Denman's Call) was so impressive today," O'Neill said. "To see a champ like Masochistic up there on the lead and to go the first quarter like that. ... Denman's Call was sitting on a good race. You just never know where the class is."
In his last start, a six-furlong optional-claiming allowance Feb. 18, Denman's Call missed the break and rallied late to finish third with Baze aboard for the first time.
"It was a beautiful trip. ... I really believed in this horse," Baze said. "Last time I was on him he was so unfortunate to lose his hind end leaving the gate. I was very fortunate to get back on this horse and I really believe in him."
In his other three graded starts, Denman's Call finished third in the San Vicente Stakes (G2), sixth in the Santa Anita Deby (G1), and fifth in the Lazaro Barrera Stakes (G3), all in 2016. He now has a 2-1-3 record from eight starts with $338,640 in earnings.
"We dreamt about this, but none of us would have thought it was possible to do what he did," O'Neill said. "That was pretty incredible. I was going to run him in an allowance, but it didn't fill. Such a wacky game."
Behind Masochistic there was a 4 1/4-length gap to Conquest Cobra, who was followed by Silent Bird, Kobe's Back, and Point Piper, to complete the order of finish. Nowalking was pulled up in the final turn and did not finish. Trainer Phil D'Amato said after racing was completed Saturday that Nowalking sustained an injury during the race. D'Amato did not disclose the specifics of the injury, but did say the "owners will have a tough decision to make."