By JIM WELLS
The old guy has lost a step. The obvious favorite didn’t like the grass, and the young guy stepped up.
If only we knew these things before they take place.
The winner of Sunday’s $50,000 John Bullit Stakes came out of that bunch, and it was the young guy, 3-year-old Wild Jacob who emerged not only the winner but was impressive enough to create hopeful speculation from his owner/trainer Stanley Mankin and draw solid reviews from the observing critics.
Wild Jacob was second choice in the race at 9-5, Stachys the beaten favorite at even money and Heza Wild Guy, the 10-year-old gelded son of Wild Event, ran out of the money as the 5-1 third choice in the six-horse field.
“Hey, what about doughnuts in the morning,” trainer Valorie Lund said to Mankin, her barnmate on the backside. “Just think what he could do if he had a real trainer,” Mankin responded.
Wild Jacob burst from the middle of the field at midstretch to finish a widening length in front of El Poppie, 9-1, and another head in front of 8-1 Edgerin. Heza Wild Guy finished in front of only one horse.
“I have to admit he’s lost a step,” said Jerry Pint, one of the Wild Guy’s two owners. “We’ll have to look for a softer spot.”
Stachys, who ran fourth, struggled on the turf, where he had only one previous start (and win), according to his rider. “He didn’t like the grass. He wasn’t handling it,” said Derek Bell.
Bell, still suffering the effects of a spill he took Saturday when the horse he was on broke down in front of the grandstand, won two earlier races on the card and was clearly disappointed to miss a third.
Mankin, on the other hand, is now making brave plans for his three-year-old after watching him mature from a skittish 2-year-old into an aggressive runner.
“He was scared of other horses,” Mankin said. So the trainer sent the horse to a friend of his in Colorado for some schooling.
He has learned other lessons in the past year as well, such as when to dig in. “I thought he was going to hang (in midstretch),” Mankin said. “But he shifted gears. He can really run that last 16th.”
Winning rider Ry Eikleberry, who’s been turning up the heat the past 10 days, made a thankful man of his agent Richard Grunder.
“Thanks for the great birthday present,” Grunder said as Eikleberry bounded down the steps from the winner’s circle after the race.
Mankin now is eyeing the East Coast for his rising three-year-old.
The other stake on the card, the $50,000 Brian Barenscheer Juvenile, went according to script. The ship-in and 1-2 favorite, Hogy, had the pace he likes to aim at and responded under rider Florent Geroux for a lengthening ¾ length victory over Squid, second choice at 2-1. Third went to the only filly in the six-horse field, Grand Forest.
The winning horse and rider shipped in from Chicago, where Hogy is 2-for-2 at Arlington Park.
Hogy caught a number of observers’ attention in the paddock with his glistening coat and a still growing but well filled out frame. Then he demonstrated that he was more than simply looks.
The sale-topper at the MTA yearling mixed sale on Saturday was a chestnut colt by Friends Lake from Run With Joy. Hip No. 30 was purchased for $30,000 by James Almond III from Oak Tree Farm, agent for Avalon Racing.
Gross proceeds from the sale were $198,500. Of the 36 yearlings that went through the ring, 31 were sold during the sale.
The average selling price was $6,403. Median price was $3,000.
Larry Cascio bought the second highest-priced horse, a filly consigned by Mary and Eric Von Seggern for $25,000.
Anthony Didier, a familiar Nebraska name at Canterbury, paid $15,000 for a gelding consigned by Wood-Mere Farm, LLC, the leading consignor with $44,800 in sales.
Osborne Farm sold six horses to lead in that category. Wayne Simon was the leading buyer with three horses purchased.