It's Euro invader Wilko, over and out
GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - J. Paul Reddam bought a majority interest in Wilko with an eye more on the future than the present. Well, the future looks bright indeed. Wilko, a European-based colt who made his first 10 starts on turf, took to the dirt in glorious fashion under Frankie Dettori, outfinishing a trio of North America's top 2-year-old colts to win the $1.5 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile by three-quarters of a length at Lone Star Park. Afleet Alex, who had a troubled start, finished second, a neck ahead of Sun King.
Wilko, a son of Awesome Again, returned $58.60 as the second-longest shot on the board in the eight-horse field.
Reddam, a California-based businessman, purchased a 75 percent interest in Wilko from England-based Susan Roy after the colt finished third in the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes on Sept. 25. He had a record of 2-2-4 from 10 starts.
"I liked the fact the horse did not have much of a turn of foot; he just kept coming and coming, and he demonstrated that today - his tenacity," Reddam said. "He just wants to stay and go and go and go."
Wilko will be going to Southern California-based trainer Craig Dollase to prepare for a 3-year-old campaign and a run at the Kentucky Derby. No Juvenile winner has come back to win the Kentucky Derby.
Jeremy Noseda trained Wilko in England and thought the colt would take to the dirt, being a son of Breeders' Cup Classic winner Awesome Again. But, even Noseda wasn't confident Wilko could win the Juvenile. "I thought we could get a piece of it," Noseda said. "I never in my wildest dreams thought we could get the whole lot."
Wilko broke sharply and stalked longshot Twice Unbridled, who shot to the lead and set fractions of 23.54 seconds, 47.49, and 1:11.25. Consolidator stalked the pace from the outside, and Sun King, under Edgar Prado, was stalking from the rail.
Three-quarters of the way up the backstretch, Sun King made a bid for the lead while Twice Unbridled began to fade. Sun King, Consolidator, and Afleet Alex were three abreast approaching the quarter pole, with Wilko back in fourth. "When they passed me at the quarter pole, I thought I'd be a good fourth, but they didn't go anywhere," Dettori said. "I switched him the outside and dreams do come true. I knew he was going to win."
Wilko covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.09, which was .44 seconds slower than Sweet Catomine took to win the Juvenile Fillies.
Afleet Alex bobbled leaving the gate under Jeremy Rose and was last and wide entering the clubhouse turn. He gradually moved into contention down the backstretch and took the lead in upper stretch, but could not hold off Wilko.
"I thought he was going to get there," said Tim Ritchey, trainer of Afleet Alex. "He had to use him a lot and he was farther back than what we planned, then he had to go way to the outside. He showed his guts, showed his determination."
Corey Nakatani, the jockey of Roman Ruler, said his horse did not handle the track.