Lewis Matthews Jr.’s Ivan Fallunovalot, sent off as the even-money favorite, drew off from his competition late to win Saturday’s $100,000 King Cotton Stakes for the second year in a row at Oaklawn. Alsvid, who eventually turned the tables on Ivan Fallunovalot last year in the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3), finished second in the King Cotton for the fourth straight year.
With regular rider Calvin Borel in the irons, Ivan Fallunovalot settled into third as Lewys Vaporizer led through an opening quarter in :22. Alvsid, normally a closer, was in the mix from the start and took control before a half-mile in :45. The winner came five wide into the stretch, took the lead and drew off to win by two lengths in a final time of 1:09 1/5 over a fast track.
“The second time around is even sweeter than the first because it is hard to do, to repeat,” said Matthews. “He has been such an amazing horse. When January 1 rolls around they get a year older and you get a little nervous about them like any athlete. It’s like being in a movie and he’s the star. He’s amazing. I’m very thankful. The race was perfect.
“It was like a movie script where everyone followed their parts,” he added. “Last year’s race was the first time he showed he could lay off the pace. I guess it’s the patience he’s gained as he’s gotten older. We just have to be careful of the closers now.”
Winning trainer Tom Howard added, “It feels really good to win this race for the second time. We are real confident in this horse and he ran amazing today. I’m not sure about this deal with him coming in. I’m super happy with this horse. We will regroup and get him ready for the next one.”
W.B. Smudge had a troubled trip from the start, but held on for third, while withstanding a claim of foul lodged against him and Alsvid by Ricardo Santana Jr., the rider of the fifth-place finisher Bayerd.
“He ran, he showed up,” said jockey Calvin Borel. “This horse is a super nice horse and honest. I didn’t know about the objection because we were clear when we came over. This horse ran a powerful race. He was much the best horse and he won.”
Ivan Fallunovalot, a 6-year-old Valid Expectations gelding bred in Texas by Eileen Hartis, improved his Oaklawn record to five wins from seven starts and his overall record to 12 wins from 21 career starts. The one-time $25,000 claimer has now earned $536,910. He returned $4, $3 and $2.60.