07/04/2017 7:43PM

Pee Wee Reese turns Plan B into victory in American Stakes

Benoit & Associates
Pee Wee Reese and jockey Joe Talamo go wire to wire in the Grade 3 American Stakes on Tuesday.

ARCADIA, Calif. - The cancellation of Tuesday’s $100,000 Lennyfromalibu Stakes for California-breds led to a first-ever stakes win for Pee Wee Reese in the Grade 3 American Stakes on the same afternoon at Santa Anita.

Pee Wee Reese was pointing for the Lennyfromalibu, scheduled for the hillside turf course, but the race did not draw enough entries to satisfy track officials. So owner and breeder Nick Alexander and trainer Phil D’Amato supplemented Pee Wee Reese for $2,000 to the $101,035 American Stakes.

Pee Wee Reese ($12.80) led throughout the American Stakes at a mile on turf, holding off even-money favorite Om to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Ridden by Joe Talamo, Pee Wee Reese was timed in 1:32.26.

“I was very happy,” Talamo said. "I was loaded the whole way. He had a lot left when he switched leads.”

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Pee Wee Reese broke from the outside in the field of eight and took the lead shortly after the start. Pee Wee Reese led by 1 1/2 lengths through quick fractions of 22.13 seconds for the opening quarter mile and 45.22 for a half-mile.

Om, a three-time stakes winner who was beaten a nose in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint here last November, was second throughout. Ridden by Gary Stevens, Om seemed poised to challenge Pee Wee Reese in the final quarter-mile, but could not reduce the margin.

“He never backed up,” Stevens said of Pee Wee Reese. “My horse got a little tired.”

The American Stakes was Om’s first start since a third in the Grade 2 Seabiscuit Handicap at Del Mar last November.

“It was a great comeback race,” Stevens said.

Alert Bay, a nine-time stakes winner, closed from sixth to finish third, a nose in front of Flamboyant. Hunt, trained by D’Amato, was fifth, followed by Kenjisstorm, Si Sage, and Patentar.

The American Stakes was the highlight of the final day of the spring-summer meet at Santa Anita. The Los Alamitos summer meet begins Thursday.

Pee Wee Reese, a California-bred by Tribal Rule, has won 5 of 9 starts and earned $259,990. In his only other stakes appearance, Pee Wee Reese was second to the multiple stakes winner What a View in the Crystal Water Stakes for statebred milers on turf on May 20.

Pee Wee Reese has won four of five starts on turf.

“This was a last-minute situation to run here,” D’Amato said. “When he opened up daylight, I thought we had a chance. He showed a lot of heart there.”