ARCADIA, Calif. – In a wild finish, 2-1 favorite Wildman Jack returned from Dubai and was up to nip 70-1 longshot Sparky Ville by a nose in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Daytona Stakes at Santa Anita. Ridden for the first time by Mike Smith and trained by Doug O’Neill, W C Racing’s homebred “Wildman” got 5 ½ furlongs in 1:01.01. Fractions on the race were 21.07, 43.54 and 54.99.
“He came back from Dubai in perfect shape and he continued to train well,” said O’Neill. “This race came up tough, like a Breeders’ Cup race. It’s nice to have ‘Big Money’ Mike, I can tell you that. Mid-way through the race, it looked like maybe we were dropping out of it, but he still had horse. I know this is a big win for (W C Racing’s) Glen Sorgenstein, he owns the horse and he bred him. This is huge.”
Breaking sharply from his post position six in a field of seven, Wildman Jack was a close fourth, about two lengths off the lead heading into the far turn and Smith appeared to allow him to idle coming to the quarter pole and from there, asked him for his best while striving to maintain a straight course.
Soon after the finish, in which one length separated the first four finishers, the steward’s inquiry sign lit up and after a lengthy delay, it was decided the original order of finish would stand.
A winner of a Group III six furlong turf sprint on March 7 in Dubai, Wildman Jack got an infusion of late money and went off as the narrow favorite over locally based Cistron, who ended up fifth.
Wildman Jack, a 4-year-old gelding by O’Neill’s 2013 Santa Anita Derby winner Goldencents, who was also owned in-part by Sorgenstein, paid $6.20, $4.40 and $3.40.
Out of the Orientate mare Orientatious, Wildman Jack picked up $60,000 for the win, increasing his earnings to $373,630. In garnering his second stakes win, Wildman Jack improved his overall mark to 8-4-2-1.
“The inquiry was that (third place finisher Stubbins) was trying to squeeze between (Sparky Ville) and myself and (Cistron) all at once,” said Smith, who was aboard for the first time today. “We were all pretty tight in there. I did a pretty conscious job of keeping him straight and then (Sparky Ville) started to drift out a little bit and made it worse. Fortunate for us, (Wildman Jack) was able to stay up and he ran extremely well.”
Unlucky to lose, Sparky Ville, who was head and head for the lead throughout from his rail post, ended up a half length better than Stubbins and with Geovanni Franco up for Jeff Bonde, paid $33.40 and $9.20.
Ridden by Umberto Rispoli, Stubbins, who is also trained by O’Neill, finished a half length in front of Texas Wedge and paid $3.00 to show.
Photo: Wildman Jack. Credit: Benoit Photos