Taking advantage of a suicidal speed duel, H. Gus King’s 12-1 shot Sir Five Star rallied wide from off the pace to win the $50,000 Mountain Valley Stakes for 3-year-olds by 8 1/2 lengths before a crowd of 11,809 Saturday at Oaklawn Park.
This was trainer Steve Asmussen’s third victory in the Mountain Valley, a six-furlong event that drew a field of six. Asmussen previously won the stakes in 1996 with Valid Expectations and in 2002 with Richest Half.
Over a track labeled good following heavy morning rains, Go Poppa Fooze broke on top from his outside post in the six-horse field, and was tracked through a sizzling opening :21 1/5 quarter by The Hitman and Storm Force.
Go Poppa Fooze was all done after a half in :45 1/5, at which point Sir Five Star, a chestnut son of Five Star Day, launched a powerful four-wide move to the lead under Justin Shepherd.
The Kentucky-bred widened through the lane under mild encouragement to reach the wire in 1:11 3/5.
"I rode him last time and he got a little tired, but not today," Shepherd said. "I knew he would run much stronger today, but didn't think he would draw out from them like that."
Sir Five Star, who paid $27, $9, and $3.80 as the rank outsider, posted the largest winning margin in the Mountain Valley since Tawny Lady won the stakes by 10 lengths in 1945.
The favored Irish Dreamer ($4, $3), who defeated Sir Five Star by four lengths in winning the Dixieland Stakes on opening day at Oaklawn, came running late for second to complete an $86.20 exacta. The Hitman ($3.80) held on for third to cap a $199.80 (for $1) trifecta.
Probation Ready, the presumed stronger half of Asmussen’s uncoupled entry, finished last behind Storm Force and Go Poppa Fooze.