Willis Horton's homebred Long Range Toddy rebounded from a troubled third-place finish in the G3 Southwest to defeat 2-5 favorite Improbable by a half-length in this Saturday's first division of the Rebel Stakes. Ridden by veteran Jon Court for trainer Steve Asmussen, the 3-year-old son of Take Charge Indy ran 1 1/16 miles over Oaklawn's fast main track in 1:42.49. Sent off at 8-1, Long Range Toddy earned 37.5 additional points toward the Kentucky Derby to bring his current total to 53.5 and place him third on the leaderboard.
Jon Court won 2013 Rebel for Willis Horton aboard Will Take Charge, then rode him to 8th place finish in Kentucky Derby. That was most recent of three Derby mounts for 58-year-old Court. He rode Archarcharch in 2011 and Optimizer in 2012.
“The horse is doing extremely well. He stepped up,” said Asmussen. “Jon gave him a beautiful trip today and I love how he earned it late. The horse is extremely kind. Jon worked him the other day and his comment was that he was push button. The horse was away well and got a good spot. They went about their business and he relaxed down the backstretch. You could tell coming into the stretch he was loaded. He waited until they all lined out, didn't waste any ground and wheeled him out late like he should and got rewarded for it.”
Both Long Range Toddy and Classy John went seeking the lead when Galilean broke a step slowly, forcing favorite Improbable to go four-wide around the first turn. Court and Long Range Toddy ceded the lead to Classy John down the backstretch, tracking from a length off the pace through fractions of :23.72 and :47.58.
Jockey Mike Smith made a mid-race move aboard Extra Hope to challenge for the lead half-way down the backstretch, sending his mount three-wide and keeping Improbable even wider on the course.
After three-quarters in 1:11.97, Improbable went hunting for the lead and grabbed it at the head of the stretch. Long Range Toddy, who saved ground along the rail around the far turn, angled out in the stretch and nailed the favorite by a half-length on the wire. Galilean ran on well to hold third, while Extra Hope had to settle for fourth.
Bred in Kentucky by his owner, Long Range Toddy is out of the winning Unbridled's Song mare Pleasant Song. The colt broke his maiden in his second start at Remington Park, then won back-to-back stakes races in the Clever Trevor and the Springboard Mile. Second in the Smarty Jones and third in the Southwest, Long Range Toddy got the graded success in the Rebel to bring his career tally to four wins from seven starts for earnings of nearly $850,000.
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