Favored Thiskyhasnolimit prevailed in a terrific stretch duel with Gladding to win the $200,000 Texas Mile (gr. III) by a half-length before 16,571 at Lone Star Park April 23 for his first graded stakes triumph since 2009 (VIDEO).
The 4-year-old Sky Mesa colt overcame a wide trip under a confident Justin Sheppard to engage the pacesetting Gladding in upper stretch, edging ahead in the closing stages. Thiskyhasnolimit won under strong right-handed urging while completing the mile in 1:37.28 on a fast track.
Trained by Steve Asmussen for owners Cathy and Bob Zollars and Mark Wagner, 7-5 choice Thiskyhasnolimit registered his first graded victory since taking the Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) as a 2-year-old in November 2009 at Churchill Downs.
Stud TNT bred the winner, who is out of Lovely Regina, by Deputy Minister, in Kentucky.
Gladding, who carried top weight of 123 pounds, four more than the winner, took a contested lead for Jon Court with Kate's Main Man sticking close while posting fractions of :24.28, :47.85 and 1:11.72. Gladding shook loose of Kate's Main Man after a half-mile but was soon challenged by Friesan Fire , one of two in the five-horse field trained by Asmussen. The other, Thiskyhasnolimit, moved into contention on the outside as well.
Thiskyhasnolimit, who was five wide early, remained on the far outside on the final turn while advancing into third. He gave chase in upper stretch under left-handed urging from Sheppard as the others fell away and it became a two-horse fight to the wire.
“We had a perfect trip on the outside and I had plenty of horse to do whatever I wanted with,” said Sheppard,
who was released from the hospital on April 22 after being treated for a staph infection in his leg, and then given medical clearance to ride on Saturday.
Gladding, winner of the San Antonio Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita in February for trainer John Sadler, finished second by seven lengths over 3-year-old Dreaminofthewin, who closed from last at mid-stretch to get the show spot with Luis Quinonez riding.
A $120,000 Keeneland September yearling in 2008, Thiskyhasnolimit improved his career record to 5-4-1 in 16 starts with earnings of $706,532.
The Texas Mile victory was worth $125,000. Thiskyhasnolimit began the 2011 season in Southern California, doing little in two starts at Santa Anita before coming to life with a sharp second in the Razorback Handicap (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park in his most recent try March 12.
Thiskyhasnolimit won the Matt Winn and Smarty Jones stakes in 2010 before finishing second to champion Lookin At Lucky in the Indiana Derby (gr. II). The dark bay/brown colt completed his 2010 campaign with a seventh-place effort in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I).
The winner paid $4.80, $2.60 and $2.40 and keyed a $10.80 exacta with 2-1 second choice Gladding, who returned $3 and $2.60. Dreaminofthewin was $2.60 to show while finishing a neck better than Friesan Fire. Kate's Main Man weakened to last in the short field.