HOT SPRINGS, Ark. -- Win Willy shook up the road the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, passing heavily favored Old Fashioned in the stretch to win the Rebel Stakes in a stunning upset.
Previously unbeaten Old Fashioned was a 2-5 shot as the nine-horse field entered the starting gate, and he appeared to be in control after easily passing Silver City on the second turn. Win Willy then came up on the outside, seemingly out of nowhere, and passed Old Fashioned with room to spare.
Win Willy, trained by McLean Robertson and with Cliff Berry aboard, paid $115.60 on a $2 win bet. Old Fashioned held on for second, and Poltergeist was third.
A $2 exacta paid $320.40.
The Rebel is the second of Oaklawn Park's three Kentucky Derby preps. The series concludes with next month's Arkansas Derby.
Old Fashioned might have been the overall favorite for the Kentucky Derby before this race. He hadn't lost in four career starts, including the Southwest at Oaklawn last month. This race began almost exactly as that one had, with Silver City moving to the front and Old Fashioned chasing close behind. The first quarter-mile was over in 22.54 seconds, a quick pace which might have cost the initial leaders down the stretch.
Win Willy covered the 1 1-16 miles in 1:44.41 and finished about two lengths in front in the $300,000 race. The track was listed as good after the area received a bit of rain in recent days. It was Old Fashioned's first race on an off track.
Old Fashioned is trained by Larry Jones, whose other top 3-year-old, Friesan Fire, won convincingly in the Louisiana Derby on Saturday.
Win Willy won for the third time in four career starts, but this was the chestnut colt's first appearance in a stakes race.
It was a memorable one. Win Willy was last after a half-mile, 13 lengths behind. From there, he began running down the leaders.