Photo: Benoit Photo
Although he disappointed as the 5-2 favorite in the prestigious Grade I Arlington Million Aug. 17, Argentine-bred Indy Point
made amends in Sunday’s Grade II, $150,000 John Henry Turf Championship, with an authoritative 1 ¼ length victory as the 2-1 favorite, providing Gary Stevens with his third graded stakes tally of the weekend while projecting himself as one of the horses to beat in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Turf (1 ½ miles) on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.
Trained by Richard Mandella, 4-year-old Indy Point bested 11 rivals and got the distance of a mile and a quarter in a rapid 1:57.47.
“I can’t say that we had a plan (today)” said Stevens, who also collected his fourth overall stakes win of the weekend. “He’s a strong-willed horse and we kinda out-thought ourselves in the Arlington Million. Today, I just threw his head away leaving there and let him run free with a long rein.
“My son, (trainer, T.C.) won a race last night at Churchill and that was really special. My mom had a stroke last Monday though, and that’s really put everything in perspective. I’ve just been trying to have fun, going fishing and just keeping everything in perspective. I didn’t think in my wildest dreams though, that I’d have the kind of horses I’ve had this weekend.
“Mucho Macho Man, Beholder, Marketing Mix, She’s a Tiger, this horse, it’s unbelievable.”
Midpack early, Indy Point came four-wide turning for home and took the lead inside the sixteenth pole after tracking fractions of 23.76, 47.31, 1:11.19 and 1:34.30.
“He had a lot of horse,” said Mandella. “No sense being tricky. Just get the job done, and Gary did a great job. It’s on to the Breeders’ Cup Turf.”
Owned by Felipe Lovisi’s Gus-May-Fer Stable, Indy Point was a multiple Group I winner in Argentina and was sensational in his U.S. debut at Del Mar July 24, which prompted the trip to Arlington Park in Chicago.
“After what happened in Chicago, it’s great to be back on track,” said Lovisi’s Racing Manager John Fulton, a former Southern California-based trainer who won the 1977 Hollywood Derby with Steve’s Friend. “The horse has trained fantastic since then, and when I got here I thought ‘This horse could not be better.’ It’s like they say in Argentina, ‘Diez puntos!’ or ‘10 points,’ meaning you can’t get any better.”
Indy Point paid $6.00, $4.40 and $2.80. With the winner’s share of $90,000, he hiked his earning to $659,061. His overall record stands at 15-7-4-3.
Irish-bred Vagabond Shoes, fresh off victory in the Grade II Del Mar Handicap Aug. 24, rallied from far off the early pace with Victor Espinoza to finish second, three quarters of a length in front of third choice Lucayan and Garrett Gomez.
Off at 6-1, Vagabond Shoes paid $6.40 and $4.40.
Next to last with a quarter of a mile to run, Lucayan hugged the rail turning for home, then angled out to finish a half length in front of longshot Old Time Hockey.
Lucayan, off at 5-1, paid $4.40 to show.
Slim Shadey, who drew the outside post position number 12, was sent to the lead by Julien Leparoux and held sway inside the eighth pole, but faltered late to finish sixth at 12-1.