Wow Whata Summer couldn’t even meet his $24,000 reserve price at the 2020 Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale. He came into Friday’s Grade 2 Penn Mile with one victory on the ledger – and that coming via disqualification.

Wow Whata Summer-Penn Mile 83/1 upset
Wow Whata Summer and rider Tyler Conner pulled off an 83/1 upset in Friday’s Grade 2 Penn Mile. It was the first time the 3-year-old gelding crossed the finish line first in seven races. (Image: Kathy Hair/EQUI-PHOTO)

And now, he has a Grade 2 win on the ledger. A Grade 2 win coming at 83/1.

Behind a masterful ride by jockey Tyler Conner, Wow Whata Summer captured the $400,000 Penn Mile, the flagship event on Penn National. The 1 ¼-length victory came at the expense of the race’s prohibitive favorite: 1/2 Annapolis, who finished second.

This set up the predictable wild payouts. Wow Whata Summer paid $168.60 to win, $27 to place and $12 to show on a $2 wager. The $1 trifecta with 16.80/1 pace-setter Uncaptured Spirit finishing two lengths behind Annapolis in third, paid $1,485.30.

Wow Whata Summer, Conner saved ground

Uncaptured Spirit set the table for Conner and Wow Whata Summer’s monster upset. He threw out a 24.08-second opening quarter-mile en route to a two length backstretch lead. After a 49.50 half-mile, Conner had seen enough. He steered Wow Whata Summer down the rail and passed Uncaptured Spirit coming out of the backstretch into the turn.

And that was essentially that. Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard Annapolis, turned the favorite loose, trying to catch the suddenly loose-on-the-lead Wow Whata Summer. But previously unbeaten Annapolis, coming in off an eight-month layoff, didn’t have the stamina to finish the job.

While Wow Whata Summer wasn’t the longest shot on the eight-horse board; that was 85.50/1 last-place finisher Noneedtoworry, he was about as improbable a winner as it gets. This gelding came into the Penn Mile 1-for-6. And that “1” came in his debut at Colonial Downs last summer.

Backed into his first official victory

In that five-furlong maiden special weight, Wow Whata Summer got bumped by Capt. Candy coming around the turn. Jockey Feargal Lynch filed an inquiry that was upheld by the stewards and Wow Whata Summer had his maiden-breaking win.

He did not finish better than third in his next five races. But one of those, the start before the Penn Mile, did give glimpses of the gelding’s latent talent. He finished a solid third in an April 23, 5 ½-furlong Laurel Park allowance, clocking a then-career best 95 Equibase Speed Figure. That was 17 points better than his previous bests, a trio of 78s.

And suddenly, the gelding who couldn’t fetch $24,000 just banked almost 10 times that: $232,800, for his Penn Mile score. The Summer Front progeny now has a 2-0-2 record in seven races with $296,000 in the bank.