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I'll Have Another Stuns Rivals in Lewis

With trouble unfolding behind him, 43-1 shot I'll Have Another went on to stunning upset in the Grade II,  $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes, surprising his trainer and owner as much as the bettors.

 

The longest shot in the field of eight 3-year-olds won by 2 3/4 lengths Saturday at Santa Anita, with Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert's two colts finishing out of the money.

 

"Oh my God that was nice," trainer Doug O'Neill said in the winner's circle, squeezing owner Paul Reddam.

 

"He's always trained fantastic, but we never saw this coming," O'Neill said.

 

I'll Have Another ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.84 under Mario Gutierrez and paid $88.60, $35.80 and $12. Empire Way, a son of 2003 Kentucky Derby runner-up Empire Maker, returned $11.80 and $6.20.

 

Gutierrez was aboard I'll Have Another for the first time after exercising him in the morning just once.

 

"I love this kid," O'Neill said.

 

I'll Have Another came in off a five-month layoff and was running two turns for the first time. The colt had sore shins after losing in the slop in the Grade I Hopeful at Saratoga in September, leading to the layoff.

 

"He hasn't missed a beat since then," O'Neill said.

 

I'll Have Another is named for Reddam's response to his wife's nightly query of "Do you want any more cookies?" as he lies on the couch. He paid $35,000 for the colt.

 

"I was probably the only one who wanted to run here," Reddam said. "We didn't know how good he was off his 2-year-old form."

 

O'Neill added, "Paul likes putting up the money and taking chances."

 

Reddam demurred when asked about taking a shot at the May 5 Kentucky Derby. He's had four previous Derby runners, including two trained by O'Neill.

 

"We want to take a lot of time until his next race," he said. "Everyone wants to be in Kentucky, but so many things happen between this race and Kentucky."

 

Liaison, the 3-2 favorite trained by Baffert, got squeezed in the stretch, clipping heels with Groovin' Solo and causing his rider Rafael Bejarano to fall passing the eighth pole. Bejarano was sore, but not injured. Baffert's other entry, 7-2 shot Sky Kingdom, finished sixth.

 

"This was a weird run race," Baffert said. "(Liaison) was up there but he was a little fresh. He got rank with him and then he was trying to get him to relax and get back, but he just emptied out."

 

After a stewards' inquiry, Groovin' Solo, ridden by Victor Espinoza, was disqualified from third to last for getting in the way of Liaison and Rousing Sermon was moved up to third. He paid $3.40 to show.

 

"I thought the inside horse (Isn't He Clever) moved out," Espinoza said. "I tried to help as much as I can. When another guy asks for help I move out as much as I can."

 

Isn't He Clever and Corey Nakatani finished fifth after drifting out in midstretch.

 

Bejarano said he had room between horses when making his move, then saw Groovin' Solo lugging in, so he yelled to let Espinoza he was there.

 

"He tried to correct his horse, but at the same time when he corrected his horse, he was just coming in too much," Bejarano said. "The horse on the inside (Isn't He Clever) didn't even give me a chance to check his horse because he was coming out too. He just kept going and was coming out little by little, but he didn't even try to check his horse. That's why it felt so tight and I clipped heels."

 

Liaison's three-race winning streak ended. He was coming off a win in the CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park in December, a race in which Sky Kingdom (another son of Empire Maker) finished fourth and Empire Way fifth.

 

 

What the Nation is saying about I'll Have Another Stuns Rivals in Lewis...

Impressive performance Saturday. Forwardly placed into a quick pace & ran his last 1/16 in 30.32. Based on his 2yo form, he may not be a flash in the pan.
I recall watching in awe when Gary Stevens came over from Idaho and was leading rider for several seasons at old Longacres. One knew he was destined for better. I saw his first hundred grander at then Exhibition Park, on a Washington shipper named Prairie Breaker in the B.C. Derby 1983 edition. He came back to ride the final race when LGA closed down too. CLASS ACT. Leading rider for several seasons at Hastings, from Mexico, Mario Gutierrez, did what he does well: stole a race on the front end yesterday in a stakes at Anita. This fellow has started to have people notice him in the big leagues.....Success like that may not bring him back to Hastings, where he hooks up with leading trainer Troy Taylor and owner Glen Todd. Watch out for him, especially on the front end.

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