HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — Owner-breeder Willis Horton took a ride on the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail six years ago with Will Take Charge, who enjoyed an early-season success in the Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park.
Long Range Toddy, a relation to Will Take Charge, has got Horton back in the Derby discussion this year, and on Saturday the colt pulled off an upset of heavily favored Improbable in the first division of the $750,000 Rebel over 1 1/16 miles.
Breaking sharply and leading into the clubhouse turn, Long Range Toddy was eased back by jockey Jon Court, who settled the colt behind the trio of Classy John, Extra Hope, and Galilean. Four wide into the first turn and rating outside Long Range Toddy in the second flight down the backside was 2-5 Improbable, the undefeated Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) winner.
Improbable made a four-wide bid for the lead turning for home and seized command at the top of the stretch. Shifted outside tiring foes for running room, Long Range Toddy rallied fiercely to gun down Improbable late to win by a neck in a time of 1:42.49 for 1 1/16 miles over a fast track.
“Jon gave him a beautiful trip today and I love how he earned it late,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “Jon worked him the other day and his comment was that he was push button. You could tell coming into the stretch he was loaded.”
This was the third Rebel win for Asmussen, and his first since Horse of the Year Curlin won in 2007. Court’s lone previous Rebel win came with Will Take Charge, who ran out of the money in all three Triple Crown races but wound up the 2013 season as champion three-year-old colt.
Long Range Toddy paid $18.80. Finishing third, 2 1/4 lengths behind Improbable, was Galilean, while Extra Hope finished fourth. Kentucky Derby qualifying points of 37.5, 15, 7.5, and 3.5 were awarded to the top four finishers, the fractional breakdown due to the Rebel being split into divisions. Long Range Toddy has now earned 53.5 points, and is virtually assured a spot in the Derby field. Improbable now has 25 points.
Long Range Toddy broke his maiden in his second start at Remington Park and later captured the $100,000 Clever Trevor and $400,000 Springboard Mile over the same track. He finished second by a neck in the $150,000 Smarty Jones and third in the Southwest (G3) in his two previous starts at the Oaklawn meet. He’s now earned $851,125.
Bred in Kentucky, Long Range Toddy is by Take Charge Indy, a half-brother to Will Take Charge, and out of Pleasant Song, by Unbridled’s Song. His second dam was multiple Grade 3 winner Pleasant Temper.