03/26/2016 4:13PM

S’maverlous keys Maker exacta in New Orleans Handicap

Lou Hodges/Fair Grounds
S’maverlous pulls a 20-1 upset under Jose Lezcano in the New Orleans Handicap.

NEW ORLEANS – S’maverlous had been a sprinter for most of his career before he was claimed by Mike Maker, who this meet at Fair Grounds finally sent him two turns. That move has taken S’maverlous to a new level, and he reached his highest point yet on Saturday with a 20-1 upset victory in the Grade 2, $400,000 New Orleans Handicap for older horses.

S’maverlous ($42.40), showing more speed than in recent starts, stalked pacesetter Coup de Grace through the early going, kicked away in upper stretch, and rolled to a two-length victory while well clear of the bumping that took place behind him nearing the wire.

Jessica’s Star, a 13-1 shot, beat International Star by a half-length for second, with 2-1 favorite Eagle a nose farther back in fourth. But the stewards ruled that Jessica’s Star had interfered with fifth-place finisher Majestic Harbor near the sixteenth pole, and they disqualified him back to fifth, promoting International Star to second, Eagle to third, and Majestic Harbor to fourth.

As a result, Maker swept the exacta, as he also trains International Star.

S’maverlous completed 1 1/8 miles on the fast main track in 1:50.06. He has now won eight times in 20 starts, is 3 for 7 for Maker, and has won his last two starts, both at Fair Grounds, both going two turns. He won a second-level allowance on March 3.

That day, S’maverlous came from seventh in the nine-horse field, but he was forwardly placed this time under Jose Lezcano.

“He usually makes one run, but I didn’t want to handcuff Jose,” Maker said. “The horse placed himself. Jose rode a smart race.”

Maker claimed S’maverlous for $32,000 for the Gata Racing Stable of John Huber. S’maverlous has earned $273,884 this year alone, quite the return on investment.

S’maverlous, 6, is a gelding by Tiz Wonderful. Maker said he’d go for an even richer payday next month in the $1.25 million Charles Town Classic.