Great Hunter rallies

first_imgARCADIA – Great Hunter, one of trainer Doug O’Neill’s four Kentucky Derby hopefuls, justified his 4-5 odds in Saturday’s $200,000 Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita with a powerful closing kick that resulted in a 11/4-length victory. Eighth in the nine-horse field after the first half-mile, Great Hunter rallied around the turn for home under Corey Nakatani and held off a game Sam P. while running the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.89 in his 2007 debut. “Corey said anytime he wanted, he knew he had it,” O’Neill said. “Of course, they always say that.” O’Neill puts Great Hunter at the top of his Derby quartet, which also includes Notional, Liquidity and Colbalt Blue, because he’s the only one of the four who’s won a Grade I race. The Aptitude colt won the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky., on Oct. 7. “On paper, you’d have to say he’s the best we’ve got,” O’Neill said. O’Neill and owner Paul Reddam said they will probably send Great Hunter to Keeneland for his final Derby prep in the Blue Grass Stakes on April 14. Kip, Kip, hooray! Kip Deville, who gave jockey Richard Migliore and trainer Richard Dutrow their first Santa Anita stakes victories on opening day, helped the duo win its first Grade I race at the Arcadia track when the 4-year-old son of Kipling captured the $300,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile by a neck over Bayeux. It was a nose back to third-place finisher Silent Name. Kip Deville ran the distance on turf in 1:33.88 while winning for the fifth time in 10career grass races. He’s five for six at Saturday’s distance and returned $20.20 for the victory while improving his career bankroll to $648,642. Pletcher continues to dominate: Trainer Todd Pletcher had a big afternoon at Gulfstream Park in Florida when he saddled the winners in a pair of Grade II 3-year-old races – the Fountain of Youth and Hutcheson stakes. center_img Scat Daddy, with John Velazquez aboard, got up in the final jump to beat California invader Stormello by a nose in the $350,000 Fountain of Youth in a time of 1:49.11 for the 11/8-mile distance. It was another half-length back to Nobiz Like Shobiz, the 3-5 favorite who heads many Derby lists. Pletcher won his fifth consecutive Hutcheson, run at 71/2 furlongs, with King of the Roxy, a 6-1 shot who beat 11-1 long shot Bold Start by 21/4 lengths in 1:28.00. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more