Now a perfect two for two in America, longshot No Jet Lag, competing in graded competition for the first time, looked the part of a multiple graded stakes winner in Saturday's Grade II, $150,000 City of Hope Mile (turf) under Mike Smith, winning by a half length in near track record time of 1:31.84 as 1-2 favorite Obviously faltered in deep stretch to finish fourth.
Trained by Simon Callaghan, No Jet Lag was an impressive first condition allowance winner going a mile on turf at Del Mar with Corey Nakatani on Aug. 11, but coming into today, the 3-year-old gelding by Johar had never faced graded competition in eight previous starts, seven of them in England.
“I have a lot of respect for Simon,” said Smith. “In the paddock he told me it wouldn't surprise him one bit if this horse won, to trust him…So when he said that, I knew I was 'live.' He was pretty aggressive the first part of the race but I just jammed him in behind horses, European style, like he's used to and that turned out good enough.
“When I kicked him out turning for home he exploded. I was loaded (when coming to Obviously at the top of the stretch). I didn't know if it would be enough to pass him, but when I was getting to him…I was more worried about the grey (second place finisher He Be Fire N Ice) at that point.”
Off at 13-1, No Jet Lag paid $28.20, $10.40 and $15.60.
Owned by Anthony Ramsden, No Jet Lag picked up $90,000 for the win, more than tripling his career earnings to $148,782.
“I told the owner, he's the best or the second-best horse I've had,” said Callaghan. “It wasn't an easy decision to throw him into this race, but we believe he's really talented and deserved the shot. He's eligible for the Breeders' Cup. That was the whole reason behind running in this race, rather than waiting for a two-other-than (allowance)…My horse has an enormous amount of speed. It's just a matter of harnessing it and getting him to react. That's the most important thing.”
Fractions on the race were fast, 22.48, 45.50, 1:08.52 and 1:20.12. No Jet Lag's final time was just six-one-hundredths of a second off of Wise Dan's course record time of 1:31.78.
Handled by regular rider Joe Talamo, Obviously, third in last year's $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile (turf) to eventual Horse of the Year Wise Dan, was out-footed to the first turn by 18-1 shot Endorsement, sat a close second into the far turn and took the lead a quarter mile out.
“My horse relaxed right out of the gate, we were just unfortunate today,” said Talamo, who had ridden the 5-year-old Irish-bred gelding in his last 10 races, six of them victories. “He kicked home real nice, ran a great race, but we were outrun today. I think we're all a little disappointed but he's still a nice horse and we still have the Breeders' Cup. He'll bounce back.”
Trainer John Sadler saddled the second and third place finishers, He Be Fire N Ice and Barocci. He Be Fire N Ice, with Victor Espinoza, finished 1 ¼ lengths in front of Barocci and paid $5.00 and $6.60. Barocci, with Corey Nakatani, was a half length clear of Obviously and paid $16.00 to show.
“Both horses ran great races,” said Sadler. “It was a very fast race. We don't have any excuses. Both of them ran great.”
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