Randy Howg’s Inside Straight, a 4-year-old gelding by Super Saver, gave trainer Robertino Diodoro and jockey Geovanni Franco the biggest victory of their careers, rallying in the stretch to win the Grade 2, $ 750,000 Oaklawn Handicap Saturday on the final day of the 2017 Oaklawn Park meeting. Inside Straight scored the upset at 19-1 under 114 pounds, pulling away in deep stretch to win by two lengths over runner-up Domain’s Rap and heavy favorite and 122-pound high weight, Midnight Storm, who set all the fractions before being overtaken in mid stretch. Madefromlucky was fourth in the field of seven older male runners.
Time for the 1 1/8 miles was 1:48.40.
Multiple graded stakes winner Midnight Storm, coming off a narrow second to Shaman Ghost in the G1 Santa Anita Handicap, went right to the front under Mike Smith at the start of the Oaklawn Handicap. He went a quick opening quarter mile in :22.96 and a half in :46.49. Franco put Insight Straight directly behind Midnight Storm on the rail, just to the inside of long shot Cutacorner. Into the far turn, after six furlongs in 1:10.60, Goats Town made an early move to put pressure on Midnight Storm from the outside, and then Inside Straight went between horses as they turned into the stretch. Midnight Storm still held a narrow advantage with an eighth to go, the mile in 1:35.88, but Inside Straight had his measure, drawing off for the victory, his seventh in 20 career starts.
Inside Straight won three of his first 10 career starts for WinStar Farm and trainer Todd Pletcher, but then was purchased privately by Howg after winning a $ 40,000 claiming race at Belmont Park last May 4.
Shipped to western Canada, Inside Straight won the Manitoba Derby at Assiniboia Downs, then raced at Northlands Park in Canada, Remington Park in Oklahoma and Zia Park in New Mexico to close out the year. This year at Oaklawn, Inside Straight ran third in the Fifth Season Stakes, second in an optional claiming/allowance race, then won a one-mile optional claiming/allowance on March 10, setting him up for the Oaklawn Handicap.
The victory was the first in a graded stakes for Franco and the first G2 win for Diodoro, who has won four G3 races previously.
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