10/22/2008 11:00PM

Wilko owner back with Square Eddie


ARCADIA, Calif. - Though there were only eight horses in the 2004 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, the right horses - and trainers - were in the race.

Roman Ruler, the best of the West trained by Bob Baffert, was the favorite. Proud Accolade, Afleet Alex, and Sun King - the top three finishers from the Grade 1 Champagne, trained by Todd Pletcher, Tim Ritchey, and Nick Zito, respectively, were also in the field. D. Wayne Lukas was represented by Lane's End Breeders' Futurity winner Consolidator. Even the dangerous Aidan O'Brien was in the race with the well-bred Scandinavia.

The other two horses were considered just filler. Twice Unbridled was a maiden. Wilko, a European-based colt, had 2 wins in 10 starts.

Paul Reddam, who had just purchased a 75 percent interest in Wilko, remembers the pre-race analysis made by two television commentators.

"We know who can't win - that's the maiden and the horse from England," Reddam recalled them saying.

Then of course, Wilko, the horse from England, indeed won at odds of 28-1.

Reddam, 53, is back in this year's Juvenile with another horse he purchased from Europe. However, expectations for Square Eddie in $2 million Juvenile will be much different Saturday at Santa Anita than they were for Wilko at Lone Star Park.

About four weeks ago, Reddam purchased Square Eddie from the European-based trainer John Best. Instead of making his North American debut in the Juvenile, Square Eddie ran in the Grade 1 Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, and romped to a 4 3/4-length victory. That performance, coupled with the absence of some of the division's best 2-year-olds - Vineyard Haven, Charitable Man, and Run Away and Hide - could very well make Square Eddie the favorite for Saturday's Juvenile.

"Last time we went through the back door," Reddam said. "This time we're trying to go through the front door."

Square Eddie, a Canadian-bred son of Smart Strike, was one of five horses Best brought to North America with the hopes of selling. Reddam was only interested in Square Eddie, who had won a maiden race on turf in his third start and who lost by a head in a Group 3 stakes over Kempton's Polytrack.

Square Eddie was brought to Reddam's attention by bloodstock agent Jamie McCalmont, who was responsible for picking out Wilko and Red Rocks, who won the 2006 Breeders' Cup Turf for Reddam and who is back in this year's Turf.

"He met all the criteria I have," Reddam said. "He had an American route pedigree. Being a Canadian-bred, I have a backstop if he's a cut below the best colts here. The Group 3 where he got beat a head, I thought the horse was very, very game. You never know when you buy a horse; most of the time it doesn't work out."

Reddam would have liked to have run Square Eddie straight into the Breeders' Cup, but it was Best's plan to race all his horses at Keeneland before selling them, so Reddam went along with it.

"I suppose once the money changed hands we could have vetoed the plan, but that really wouldn't have been fair," Reddam said. "He was going to be trainer of the horse through the [Futurity]; it wouldn't have been fair to say, 'You're out.'"

Square Eddie gave a dynamic performance in the Futurity, racing close to the pace until the quarter pole before galloping away from the field, winning with his ears up while being taken in hand late by jockey Rafael Bejarano.

"It was a little over the top," said Reddam, who has turned the horse over to trainer Doug O'Neill. "We expected the horse was a good horse - we paid money like he was a good horse - and we didn't think this version of the Futurity was the toughest that had ever been put together. We didn't know how he would run, but I don't know if we expected him to run like that."

In 2004, Reddam said he wasn't sure what to expect from Wilko. The horse's trainer, Jeremy Noseda, thought Wilko could get a piece, but he didn't think he could get the biggest one.

"He was saying to me I think we can hit the board," said Reddam, who did bet on Wilko. "When you're 25 or more to 1 you're kidding yourself when you go in there highly confident, the board usually tells the story. My thinking was one edge the horse had was in his previous race he had gotten interfered with really badly and that didn't come out in the past performances, and he had a lot of racing under his belt."

Wilko would never win another race for Reddam, going for 0 for 18 before being retired last year.

The question many handicappers will have regarding Square Eddie is whether he'll be subject to the Euro bounce, a theory that suggests European-based horses who run huge in their first North American start regress, or bounce, next out.

"It's certainly possible," Reddam said. "In the Futurity, he really didn't have the hardest of races. Usually, you see a bounce when a horse has a Herculean effort and he went all out to do it."

Reddam is more concerned about the law of averages than he is the Euro bounce.

"Looking at the Breeders' Cup, people expect Curlin to win, Zenyatta to win, Stardom Bound to win, and Square Eddie to win," Reddam said. "That's not all happening. There will be upsets. I just hope this isn't one of them."