INGLEWOOD, Calif. (July 4, 2009) — Versatile Monterey Jazz, passing a spot in the Triple Bend Handicap on the main track Sunday, took a commanding lead on the backstretch and rolled to a 3 1/4-length victory under jockey Tyler Baze in Saturday’s $150,000 American Handicap at Hollywood Park.
Monterey Jazz covered 1 1/8 miles on the Lakeside Turf Course in 1:46.11 to register his fifth win in nine starts on grass and his eighth win in 19 starts overall. He is perfect in three starts on the Hollywood course.
“David Flores gave me a tip about riding this horse,” Baze said. “He told me don’t hit him because he always gives 100 percent. The last race I never hit him and today I never hit him. He doesn’t really break fast, he kind of breaks flat-footed. But once he starts going, he just pulls you along. You’ve just got to try and nurse him along as best as you can and pray he has something to come home with. He was strong at the end today.”
Eight-year-old Artiste Royal closed from last in the field of six to collect second money, 1 ¼ lengths in front of defending champion Whatsthescript. Buenos Dias finished fourth, followed by Giant Gem and Storm Military in the Grade II event.
Monterey Jazz ended a long dry spell in stakes, registering his first graded victory since scoring an eight-length victory in the Texas Mile in April of 2008 at Lone Star Park. Following that race, he was off seven months.
“He had a fracture of the hind foot so we gave him plenty of time off,” trainer Craig Dollase said. “It took him a while to get back into form. He’s the man now. He’s back. I told Tyler if the two (Storm Military) wants to go the first quarter of a mile, that is the key to the race. He let him go, settled nice and then took charge on the backstretch. The race was over by then.”
Monterey Jazz, who races for Tom Arndt’s A and R Stables and the Joe Masino-managed Class Racing Stable, banked $90,000 to boost his earnings to $670,880. The 5-year-old was an $85,000 purchase.
Monterey Jazz, the second choice at 5-2, paid $7.40, $4.60 and $3.20. Artiste Royal returned $5.40 and $3, while the show payoff on favorite Whatsthescript was $2.20.
Rafael Bejarano, the jockey on Artiste Royal, was pleased with his mount.
“He ran really well, he just needs a little more distance,” he said. “He was really finishing. Past the wire he passed the winner easily.”
While Joel Rosario had to settle for third aboard Whatsthescript, he enjoyed a banner day with five winners on the nine-race program. Rosario, who leads Bejarano by a 67-59 margin atop the jockeys’ standings with nine days remaining at the 56-day meeting, rode the first three winners and was a nose short of perfection as he finished second in a photo on Marcade in the fourth race. He then guided Searchforthetruth to victory (by a nose) in the fifth race and took the nightcap on Turbo Energy.
Bejarano rode first-race winner Lady Lumberjack and is just three wins shy of the 2,000-mark entering Sunday’s American Oaks/Triple Bend program at Hollywood Park. First post for the 11-race card is 1 p.m.
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