A return to Betfair Hollywood Park’s turf course was all Wilkinson
needed to end a four race losing streak in the $62,250 feature Thursday.
Making his first local appearance since he posted a 44-1 upset in
the Grade II American Handicap last May 26 for owner Edward K. Gaylord
II and trainer Jeff Mullins, the 5-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid led
most of the way Thursday as the 17-10 second choice.
Completing a natural hat trick for jockey Martin Pedroza, Wilkinson
completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.72 while winning by a half-length.
Out of the Afternoon Deelites mare Tasha’s Delight, the dark bay won
for the sixth time in 23 starts and pushed his earnings to $407,998.
Breaking from the rail in a field reduced to six after the scratch
of Lucayan, Wilkinson moved inside of Willyconker to assume the
advantage after a slow opening quarter (24.32 seconds), relaxed nicely
under his regular rider and had enough left to hold off 13-10 choice
Dubai You X Y Z.
Given a ground-saving trip by jockey Brice Blanc in his second start
of 2013, Dubai You X Y Z angled outside the eventual winner early in
the stretch, but couldn’t get by in the closing yards.
Wilkinson, who was making his first start at Betfair Hollywood Park
when he posted the biggest surprise in American Handicap history,
returned $5.40, $2.60 and $2.20 for his third career victory on grass.
Worse than third only once in his nine starts, Dubai You X Y Z paid
$2.60 and $2.20. The show price on 12-1 shot Temple’s Door, who finished
2 ¾ lengths behind the runner-up, was $3.80.
Pedroza, who had one win through the first four days of the
Spring/Summer meet, also won Thursday’s third and fourth races,
respectively, with Almost Better and Cragmont.
Jockey Joe Talamo also tripled Thursday, scoring with Myntz
Connection in the second, Sister Esperanza in the sixth and Warren’s
Nicholas in the eighth. Talamo moved into second in the standings with
five winners, six behind leader Rafael Bejarano.