Pt's Grey Eagle, seventh on the turn, turned in a 29-1 stunner in the $213,000 Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. I) Sunday during the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita.
Five wide coming off the turn, 3-year-old gelding Pt's Grey Eagle, carrying 109 pounds, responded to frantic urging from jockey Alex Bisono to make a huge move down the stretch. Pohave, the strong favorite at 7-5, could not hold off the $80,000 Kentucky-bred son of Pleasant Tap
in deep stretch. Pt's Grey Eagle won by a half-length.
The 20-year-old Bisono, a native of Hempstead, NY, won his first grade I race.
Rapid Pacesetter Hombre Rapido finished third, 2 1/2 lengths behind the winner, in the field of eight. The final time for the six-furlong Ancient Title was 1:08 4/5.
Pt's Grey Eagle paid $61.60, $15.40 and $4.60. With Pohave second, the exacta returned $163.60 and the trifecta was worth $1,000.60.
The Ancient Title has produced four winners of the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I), but Pt's Grey Eagle's owner, J. Paul Reddam was uncertain about spending the $90,000 supplemental fee to get his horse into the field.
"I'll give the safe answer, you know, that we'll talk it over," he said with a chuckle. "But there's chance."
Trainer Craig Dollase won the 1998 Breeders' Cup Sprint with Reraise.
"It feels great man," Bisono said. "I'm excited and I don't even know what to say right now. I just want to thank Craig (Dollase) for giving me a chance. This is the my first grade I. The first time I tried it and I won."
Bisono showed the right instincts as he allowed Pt's Grey Eagle to languish at the rear of the field through sizzling fractions. Hombre Rapido, ridden by Tyler Baze, blazed a :21 opening quarter-mile and a :43 3/5 half with Rojo Toro and Pohave tracking closely. With Rojo Toro falling out of the picture on the turn, Pohave, carrying 118 pounds and jockey Jon Court, got on even terms with Hombre Rapido and edged away inside the final furlong.
But coming powerfully on the outside, the grey hit the front in the final strides to pull out a shocking victory.
"(Dollase) gave me great instructions," Bisono said. "He said to get the bit and keep him busy. The horse doesn't like to go down on the rail so I just kept him out, and he just kicked on. I was pretty wide, but that didn't bother him at all."
Pt's Grey Eagle had just once prior stakes appearance – a second-place finish in the $58,000 Foothill at Fairplex Park in last start Sept. 10. He was eligible for a non-winners of two allowance race.
"I guess the Pomona prep worked," Dollase said. "He actually had a lot of trouble in that race, but he's an improving 3-year-old and we'll talk it over with Paul (about the Breeders' Cup) and hope the horse comes out of the race well. Stranger things have happened."
The $120,000 winner's share for Pt's Grey Eagle third win in eight career starts pushed his earnings total to $205,540. Pt's Grey Eagle has finished first or second in every start of his career except once.
"You can't knock his consistency," Dollase noted.
Farrell W. Jones bred the winner, who is from the Swing Till Dawn mare Hemet Eagle. He was sold at Barretts in March 2003.
The Ancient Title is probably grade I winner Pohave's final start in the United States. The 6-year-old grey gelding has been sold to Sheikh Mohammed's Darly Stud and is expected to ship to Dubai.
"The race set up just perfect," said Court, Pohave's rider. "He just got beaten by a horse that had a stronger finish, a stronger turn of foot in the last few yards. He's a longshot, but that happens in this game. He ran a good honest race."
Pohave returned $3.20 and $2.40. Hombre Rapido paid $3.80.
Kamsack, Bluesthestandard, the 5-2 second choice, During, Rojo Toro and Omega Code trailed.