05/26/2012 8:25PM

Hollywood Park: Mullins tips hat to Howard after Wilkinson's huge upset in American Handicap

Benoit & Associates
Wilkinson, ridden by Martin Pedroza, pays $90.60 to win for his upset in the American Handicap.

INGLEWOOD, Calif.- Wilkinson, the latest addition to trainer Jeff Mullins’s stable, was the shocking winner of Saturday’s $150,000 American Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Wilkinson ($90.60) arrived at Hollywood Park last week from trainer Neil Howard’s stable at Churchill Downs and won the second stakes of his career in the Grade 2 American Handicap. Mullins credited Howard with the victory after leaving the winner’s circle.

“We just galloped him five days and ran him,” Mullins said. “We’ve got to give all the credit to Neil Howard.”

Ridden by Martin Pedroza, Wilkinson had an ideal trip in the one-mile turf race, stalking pacesetters Liberian Freighter and Compari before taking the lead in early stretch. The third longest shot in a field of nine, Wilkinson held off a late threat from 3-5 favorite Mr. Commons to win by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:33.37.

Liberian Freighter held third, finishing a half-length behind Mr. Commons. Compari was fourth, followed by Mobilized, Tigah, Calimonco, Great Warrior, and Soul Candy.

The American Handicap was the first start for Mr. Commons since a second in the Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita in March. He broke from the outside post and was eighth in the first quarter-mile.

Mr. Commons was fifth with a quarter-mile remaining.

“He ran well from the” outside, jockey Mike Smith said. “I would have liked to have won. He’ll get a lot out of this and move forward.”

Wilkinson, owned by E.K. Gaylord II, won the 2011 Lecomte Stakes and was sixth in the Louisiana Derby and 10th in the Blue Grass Stakes. He did not start in the 2011 Triple Crown.

Switched to turf last summer, Wilkinson was second and third in graded stakes on that surface last fall, including a third in the Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap at Belmont Park.

A 4-year-old colt by Lemon Drop Kid, Wilkinson has won 5 of 18 starts and $336,994. Mullins has a history with the colt’s family, having trained Wilkinson’s dam, Tasha’s Delight. In 2005 and 2006, Tasha’s Delight was second or third in five stakes.

“I trained the mare and she was a trier,” Mullins said.

The same can be said about Wilkinson.


John Flynn More than 1 year ago
Martin Pedroza was Alert, Agressive, Amazing & Amen He Won The Race!!!
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Weak male turf division out here in California. The owner was astute to see this and and send him out. It would be easy to write the race off as a fluke, but the splits were legit, 109 and change for 6 furlongs, and then Wilkinson finished up in 11 and 4 and 11 and 4. The 133 and 1 time is about a second faster than anybody's run at the meet so far. Mr. Commons got a good trip and ran his race, but simplky wasn't good enough. He did look a little heavy out in the paddock, but it's now clear to me he simply is not the star he was made out to be; I do not see him being competitive at the elite international level(for a race like the Breeder's Cup Mile) and am starting to believe that even national grade 1s might be a bit over his head. Hopefully, owners and trainers of some good Eastern turf milers noticed this result and will ship out for the grade 1 Shoemaker. I'm disappointed that no Easterner shipped out for the grade 1 Gamely on Monday given the mediocrity of the Cali female turf division.
Jack More than 1 year ago
Mullins "TIPS HIS HAT" to Howard? Maybe all the Horse needed was a SIP of Mullins "Jet Fuel"??......................LOL
Dawood K More than 1 year ago
I was not surprised by the results. Read the comments made by Sheriff's in the DRF on the 24th that the American would be a prep for the $300,000 Shoemaker mile on june 30th. Its not fixed. But yes, it seems like, specially when a horse goes off at such low odds. I'm sure Mr Commons will run his next race a winning one.
Mortimer Post More than 1 year ago
ROTTEN ride by Mike Smith..waited much too late to push the button on Mr. Commons! Sure, "milkshake" Mullins is a consistently good trainer, and Pedroza an underrated rider...but (for example) things might very well have been different with Bejarano or even Eswan Flores aboard the chalk!
Barry Taylor More than 1 year ago
I don't think we watched the same race. Mr. Commons was in perfect position at the top of the stretch, but could not make up any ground on the winner, none.
Mortimer Post More than 1 year ago
Perfect position?
Vince Lentini More than 1 year ago
you watched a different race sir
Gee More than 1 year ago
just couldnt play him how could anyone???? these 1 win every 10 race horses. how poor of a crop of turf horses r in calif???
MoneyMarcus More than 1 year ago
He was training really well for his comeback and but did not show anything in the races. He was a top 3 year old on turf and was really dropping in competition today even though it was a graded race. I am sick. I played him with Garrett Gomez and B Hernandez but missed this race today. He should dominate the CA turf races the rest of the year.