INGLEWOOD, Calif. (November 26, 2011)—Three weeks after finishing seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, Jeranimo rebounded with an authoritative victory in the $250,000 Citation Handicap (video) Saturday at Hollywood Park.
The 17-10 favorite against eight opponents in the third of five Turf Festival races over the holiday weekend, Jeranimo was reserved off the moderate pace set by Bob Black Jack, angled outside approaching the stretch, then finished with a flourish under jockey Garrett Gomez.
Completing the 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.87, the Florida bred, who carried top weight of 122 pounds, prevailed by 2 ¾ lengths for owner B.J. Wright and trainer Mike Pender.
The win was the seventh in 24 starts for the 5-year-old son of Congaree and the Jeblar mare Jera. He’s earned $810,400.
Jeranimo’s victory was his second in seven 2011 outings. All four of his career stakes wins have come in Grade II events. Before the Citation, Jeranimo had captured the Oak Tree Mile (Oct. 8 at Santa Anita), the San Gabriel (Dec. 27, 2010 at Santa Anita) and the Strub (Feb. 13, 2010 at Santa Anita).
Wide throughout in his first appearance in a graded stakes, War Element, the 7-2 second choice, gained the place, finishing a head in front of 11-1 shot Calimonco. John Johny Jak was a half-length back in fourth.
Favored for the first time since he was fourth in the Grade III Inglewood Handicap April 24, Jeranimo paid $5.40, $3 and $2.80. War Element returned $3.80 and $3.20 and Calimonco paid $5.40 to show.
Bob Black Jack, who faded to sixth in his second start after a layoff of more than 20 months, had to be vanned off afterwards.
The 6-year-old California bred, who had never competed on turf before Saturday, suffered suspensory and possibly sesamoid injuries to his left front leg.
Gomez’s second collaboration with Jeramino – the first was a second place finish behind Acclamation in the Grade I Eddie Read July 23 at Del Mar – provided the rider a milestone Citation score. The rider also won with Ashkal Way (2006) and Military (1998), enabling him to join five other jockeys (Chris McCarron, Laffit Pincay, Jr., Bill Shoemaker, Gary Stevens and Patrick Valenzuela) with three wins in a race first run in 1977.
“He relaxed real well and found himself in a nice little spot,’’ said Gomez. “They weren’t going very fast and he was real comfortable and traveling well.
“He settled in beautiful and it was just a matter of finding somewhere to go. When I showed him some where to go he put it all together.’’
Earlier in the day, Pacific Ocean was a powerful winner in his first start for new connections, easily capturing the $100,000 Vernon O. Underwood Stakes (video).
Purchased privately by Dennis Narlinger’s JMJ Racing Stables LLC and transferred to the barn of Mike Mitchell, the 4-year-old gelding showed surprising speed (21.52, 43.78 and 55.66 for the first five-eighths of a mile) to quickly assume command after breaking from the rail in the Grade III. The margin of victory was 2 ¼ lengths.
Ridden by Joel Rosario, the 7-1 shot, who hadn’t raced before Saturday since July 20, completed the six furlongs over Cushion Track in 1:08.48. The clocking was the fastest for the distance in 2011 at Hollywood Park.
The win was the fourth in six starts for the son of Ghostzapper and the Unbridled mare Miss Salsa. His first graded victory increased his bankroll to $153,199.
The Underwood was marred afterwards by the death – probably of a heart attack – of runner-up Irrefutable, one of a trio started by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
Shortly after being unsaddled, the 5-year-old gray son of Unbridled’s Song and the Kingmambo mare Honestly Darling was stricken. Owned by Kaleem Shah, Irrefutable won four of 13 while earning $286,980.
Hollywood Park is the fourth different track at which Pacific Ocean has run, joining Arlington Park, Keeneland and Woodbine, and the third at which he has won. He was seventh in the Bold Venture at Woodbine in his final outing when trained by Wayne Catalano for former owners Gary and Mary West.
Never more than 7-2 in any of his earlier races, Pacific Ocean paid $16.80, $8.60 and $6. Irrefutable, who finished a half-length in front of 5-1 shot M One Rifle, returned $8.20 and $5. M One Rifle, who was seeking his third win over the Hollywood Park main track, was $4.20.
Euroears, the 8-5 favorite and 126-pound high weight trained by Baffert, was fourth, a neck behind M One Rifle and three-quarters of a length in front of stablemate Quiet Invader.
“He blew out in 58 and change (58 3/5 seconds Nov. 12 over Cushion Track) working with Carbonite (the sixth place finisher in the Underwood) and it was a really solid work for both of them,’’ said Mitchell. “It’s a good thing I didn’t talk to Joel because I would have said just sit there and let everybody go. And here he’s on the lead. That’s why if you don’t know anything, you don’t say anything.’’
In addition to the Underwood, Rosario won two other races to widen his lead in the standings. Through 11 days of the Autumn meet, he has 17 victories, leaving him five clear of Rafael Bejarano.
Racing resumes Sunday. Post time for the final day of the Turf Festival is 12:30 p.m.
The highlight of the 10 race program is the last of the Turf Festival events – the $250,000 Hollywood Derby, a Grade I for 3-year-olds at 1 ¼ miles. The other Turf Festival race is the $100,000 Generous, a Grade III for 2-year-olds at one mile.
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