Updated on 09/26/2012 1:41PM

Parx: Handsome Mike upsets Pennsylvania Derby

Barbara D. Livingston
Handsome Mike pays $40.40 as the longest shot on the board in the Pennsylvania Derby.

BENSALEM, Pa. - A gambler at heart, horse owner Paul Reddam doesn’t mind taking chances.

 “We tend in our stable to try hit the ball over the fence,” Reddam said. “We strike out a lot, but every once in a while the ball does go over the fence.”

 Though he was 3,000 miles away Saturday afternoon, Reddam knocked one out of the park when Handsome Mike, the least accomplished of the seven runners in the field, ran away from the competition in the stretch to win the Grade 2, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby by two lengths at Parx.

 Macho Macho, the West Virginia Derby winner, finished second by a neck over Golden Ticket, the dead-heat winner of the Travers. Alpha, the other dead-heat winner of the Travers, faded to sixth as the 3-5 Pennsylvania Derby favorite.

 Handsome Mike is based in Southern California in the stable of trainer Doug O’Neill, who teamed with Reddam to win this year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness with I’ll Have Another. O’Neill is currently serving a 40-day suspension for a TCO2 overage from 2010 and the horse ran in the name of assistant trainer Leandro Mora. Neither Mora nor Reddam was present Saturday.

 Reddam, who watched the race in his living room, said he had traveled to watch Handsome Mike run in the Haskell in New Jersey and the Secretariat in Chicago. The horse finished fourth in both of those Grade 1 races.

 Reddam decided to take another shot with Handsome Mike in a big race because he didn’t think the competition in the Pennsylvania Derby was overly tough.

 “I didn’t think the division was nearly as strong as it might otherwise be with all the horses being retired or sick,” Reddam said. “To me it was worth taking a shot.”

 Injuries and illnesses have decimated the 3-year-old division with Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another, Belmont winner Union Rags, Kentucky Derby and Preakness runner-up Bodemeister all retired and Haskell winner Paynter sidelined due to colitis. Dullahan is a multiple Grade 1 winner on synthetics and is being pointed to the Grade 1 Jamaica on turf at Belmont on Oct. 6.

 Reddam said he wanted Handsome Mike to be on the lead in the Pennsylvania Derby, but “I didn’t want him to get in a speed duel.”

 Irad Ortiz Jr., who was riding Handsome Mike for the first time, said he didn’t expect to be on the lead.

 But Handsome Mike was eager out of the gate and put Ortiz in a forward position entering the first turn. Alpha, a bit head-strong under Ramon Dominguez, had a head in front after the opening quarter in 25.08 seconds, but Handsome Mike retook the lead straightening away down the backside.

 Handsome Mike maintained a length advantage over Alpha after a half in 49.37 over a dry, slow surface. Alpha, under Ramon Dominguez came back on Handsome Mike and the two were virtually deadlocked through six furlongs in 1:14.02.

 Handsome Mike and Alpha came into the stretch together with Stephanoatsee attempting to join the fray from the rail.

 But under a persevering Ortiz, Handsome Mike gradually opened up and pulled away.

 Handsome Mike, whose only other win came in a 6 1/2-furlong grass race last October at Santa Anita, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.63 and returned $40.40.

 “My horse broke good, I just put my hands down,” Ortiz said. “He was relaxed, we go in front and when I asked him he responded and we won. I didn’t think I’d be on the lead when I read my program.”

 Reddam said that he would likely point Handsome Mike to the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 3.

 Alpha, who won the Jim Dandy and shared the Travers, got strong in the starting gate, according to his rider, Ramon Dominguez.

 “He got a little mad, broke flat and horses were walking going into the first turn and he got pretty aggressive,” Dominguez said.

 Dominguez said he wanted to try and get Alpha off the inside but he couldn’t do it.

 “Down the backside I’m trying to work my way out but given the slow fractions the whole field is right on the outside so I have to work with that,” Dominguez said. “Turning for home I stayed inside the winner as far out as I could but we just couldn’t match strides.”




Frank More than 1 year ago
They could run this race 100 times and I wouldnt bet Handsome Mike. Goes to show you you never can tell.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
had 20 across on this one
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
Congratulations to Handsome Mike on his fabulous win in the Pennsylvania Derby. I knew this race was wide open and it's nice to see another talented horse come to the forefront. Handsome Mike also paid a fabulous price. Congratulations to all who were lucky enough to have winning tickets on him, either as a single or in exotics. Once again, Doug O'Neill's barn wins a big race. His barn is an up and comer. He has an impressive stable of talented horses. Golden Ticket did well to show, he's an up and comer as well. Yes, he didn't win, but he's a horse who is rounding into form very well and is on the upswing. I like him and I look forward to seeing more of him in 2013. Congrats again, Handsome Mike. I look forward to seeing more of you, too, in 2013, and still on the upswing, I hope.
MICHAEL More than 1 year ago
c'mon joy...another talented horse????....um didn't you read what Redman said?....we took a chance cuz there is NOTHING MUCH at that race!!....the hyping on these horses are getting ridiculous....lol
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
How much did you lose in this race, Michael? I detect some bitterness here. If Mr. Reddam didn't think he was talented, he wouldn't have entered him in a million dollar race, Michael. He took a chance because all the other horses were not any better in his estimation than his own horse. He thought his horse could beat them. And he did, so Mr. Reddam actually made a pretty good estimation on the talent level of his horse. I'm sure he wouldn't have shipped him to Pennsylvania simply for kicks. That's kind of expensive to do just on a whim, which is what you seem to think he did with Handsome Mike. You're not giving this horse enough credit. He won this race, that showed talent. When was the last time a horse you owned won a race?
Frank More than 1 year ago
I always detect bitterness with you Joy when someone questions you or doesnt agree with you. I hope you are not married!
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
Joy thinks every horse is highly talented. She is entitled to her opinion.
Frank More than 1 year ago
Micheal, One thing about Joy -- if you dont agree with her horse analysis she assumes you lost money on that horse which is why you dont think the horse is good???? She did that to me with I'll have Another.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
joy is so congratulatory and she knows everything about every jockey and trainer etc and all the up and coming horses and barns and when horses get sick or a jockey.gets hurt shell ALWAYS have some nice warm and fuzzy comment and she always wants to see how good the horses are doing in future races etc etc etc..............
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priority peeved More than 1 year ago
Sousaphone: Get to the truth of the matter and zip the obfuscation with Eclipse winner Dominguez, Hall of Fame rider Angel Cordero, and common crooks like Jose Amy & Kieran Fallon "stiffing" a horse, let us know how much moolah you blew on Alpha (not really a great horse as you say). By the way, are those Lottery tickets I see in your button-down collar shirt pocket?
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
actually had a bet on stephanoatsee.did not use alpha,but could not have come up with handsome mike unless i belieeved the oneill magic juice was on.handsome mike come on even in this field it was a stretch.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
Totally agree. Dominguez is quite questionable especially on Nicole H against CC's Pal in the G2 Vagrancy at Belmont Park. Taking a dive.
anonymous More than 1 year ago
Did David Cohen ride Golden Ticket or was he substituted just before the race, I thought someone else rode him.
Thomas Hagadone More than 1 year ago
He was up.
Jim Fields More than 1 year ago
If you only knew what really happens at any good trainers barn, you wouldn't be so quick to badmouth these successfull horsemen. Success follows hard work, good decisions by all involved, and yes, some medications; but most are legal, and the ones that are used that are not legal, usually given by mistake or are given too close to race time. Every horses system reacts differently to different meds or foods. Doug O'neill and/or Mora or Reddam don't do anything more to their horses than any other good racing partnership. So you knownothings keep pounding your puds and keep thinking races are decided before they start.
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
Thank you . I have said this before also,but there is no getting through. It is as simple as "I lost the winner was doped" for so many people. It definately seems to originate from the east and is directed to the west.
ctgreyhound More than 1 year ago
I'll have another handsome mike...anytime. What 3 year old division? It's been decimated.
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
That is my point. All the stars and TC contenders are gone. HM ran a good race now and his last time out with Mario G. I had him in the box with Alpha and GT. If you're gonna play, you go with what you got, yeah?
Graz I. Greener More than 1 year ago
Handsome Mike: beaten 12L in the Haskell, beaten 4+L in the lowest beyer Secretariat Stakes ever recorded = I love Mario G, he's such a cutie
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mikey More than 1 year ago
With the juice Oneil is cooking u on his leave anything can happen.
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
is that supposed to be a sentence?
Ron Walker More than 1 year ago
Jeff, I used to point out the unbelievable grammatical and spelling errors of posters here but I had to give it up. I could spend all day doing so. Did some of these people make it through the 3rd grade? Ron
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why don't all you people that are so miserable that all you can write is negative comments get together and jump off a bridge together.
anonymous More than 1 year ago
You first.
MICHAEL More than 1 year ago
what are you a hyper!!...stop hyping these sorry azzz horses.....
Advance Plumbing More than 1 year ago
Golden ticket wasnt on my ticket !