04/10/2015 6:01PM

Jack Milton takes Maker's 46 Mile

Coady Photography
Jack Milton and jockey Javier Castellano win the Maker's 46 Mile by 2 1/4 lengths Friday.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Jack Milton might have been a disappointment in his first try this year, but not his second. Given a well-judged ride by Javier Castellano, the 5-year-old horse launched an explosive run from the back of the pack for a clear-cut victory Friday in the Grade 1, $300,000 Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland.

The beaten favorite in his seasonal debut at Gulfstream Park in February, Jack Milton relished the soft going when passing all six of his opponents in less than a quarter of a mile.

“I really like the way it set up today,” said Castellano.

Jack Milton, a Kentucky-bred by War Front, returned $11.20 as the third choice when finishing the two-turn mile in 1:36.30. Aripeka, a 9-1 shot, also ran on well to finish second, 2 1/4 lengths behind the winner and a head before the pacesetting Long On Value. Summer Front, the 13-10 favorite, had no mishap when finishing sixth.

Trained by Todd Pletcher for Gary Barber, Jack Milton reached peaked form last spring in winning the Grade 3 Poker at Belmont Park. After three defeats to end his 4-year-old campaign, he was given five months off before he returned to finish fourth behind Long On Value in the Grade 3 Canadian Turf at Gulfstream.

“I’m really happy for the horse,” Pletcher said by text message. “He’s a deserving Grade 1 winner. It’s great when it all comes together. This was the plan Gary and I talked about last September.”

Before an ontrack crowd of 14,069, and under partly sunny skies amid a spring chill, Long On Value cut out fractions of 23.89 seconds, 47.42, and 1:12 over a course that has been inundated with rain through the first week of this 15-day spring meet. Summer Front always had good position while tracking inside, while Jack Milton bided his time in last.

On the far turn, as Summer Front spun his wheels, Jack Milton began circling the field without urging. Passing the furlong pole while racing farthest outside, he had caught all but Long On Value, and with just vigorous hand-riding and one smack of the whip, he surged clear.

“I think they went pretty quick in front, and he really kicked for me,” said Castellano.

Bred by Cherry Valley Farm, Jack Milton earned $180,000 with his fifth win from 15 starts and now has a $751,161 bankroll.

The $2 exacta (7-4) paid $117.40, the $1 trifecta (7-4-2) returned $210.60, and the 10-cent superfecta (7-4-2-5) was worth $95.44.

Both Castellano and Pletcher won two other races earlier on a 10-race card, including one in which they teamed with Tapkee ($3) in the fourth, an off-the-turf maiden route.