When asked how he felt aboard Kaleem Shah's heavily favored Run Away in the turn of the $100,000 Barretts Juvenile Stakes Sept. 23 at Los Alamitos Race Course, jockey Flavien Prat didn't get out a word as much as he let out a sound.
"Phew," the jockey said with a shake of the head, as he walked back to the jockey's room.
The Run Away and Hide colt who has never been far off the lead in his four-race career, was last with three-eighths to run in the 6 1/2-furlong sprint, after he dropped back from a stalking fourth in the turn. But when Prat got Run Away to the outside and in the clear, something changed.
"He broke well and he didn't go super fast. I didn't have any speed today," Prat said of the Best Pal Stakes (G2) winner. "Around the turn I was between horses and he's never been between horses. He wasn't comfortable. But luckily there's a long stretch. Once I put him in the clear, he started making his run."
The late run was just enough, as the 1-5 favorite edged fellow closer and second choice Smokem to win by a head in a final time of 1:16.17.
"Here he was in between horses and (in the turn), that's just not where you want to be," trainer Simon Callaghan said as he watched the replay with Shah after the race in a minor state of shock. "Although it was lesser company (than his last start in the grade 1 Del Mar Futurity), it shows that he's a very courageous horse, I think."
"It's encouraging that he's got a big heart," Shah added.
First-time starter Crazy Uncle Rick appeared primed for an upset at odds of 10-1 until he tired in the final furlong. Southern Warlord was a half-length up through an opening quarter-mile in :22.04, but Crazy Uncle Rick shot through on the inside to take command through a half-mile in :44.96. The Uncle Mo colt still held a half-length advantage with a furlong to run, while Run Away still had 2 1/2 lengths to make up, but gave way to the closers late and finished third, four lengths behind the top pair.
"He learned something new today. It was interesting," Prat said of Run Away.
It was a tough-luck loss for Smokem, who has finished second in three straight stakes since he broke his maiden on debut at Del Mar July 21. The Union Rags colt was three-quarters of a length behind Continental Divide in the Aug. 6 Graduation Stakes and 3 1/4 lengths behind Bookies Luck in the Sept. 1 I'm Smokin Stakes.
Bred in Kentucky by Erv Woolsey and Ralph Kinder, out of the Pulpit mare Cabales, Run Away now has four wins from five starts and $304,400 in earnings. His only defeat was his third-place run in the Futurity. The colt was a $325,000 purchase by Shah out of the 2017 Barretts March selected 2-year-olds in training sale.