By: Steve Anderson
ARCADIA, Calif.- Jeranimo may have joined the field for the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5 with a surprise win in Saturday’s $150,000 Oak Tree Mile at Santa Anita.
Ending a six-race losing streak dating back to last December, Jeranimo ($11.20) raced on or near the lead throughout the Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile and held off a late threat from 4-5 favorite Mr. Commons to win by three-quarters of a length.
The win did not surprise trainer Mike Pender, although he admitted that it was only in the 10 days leading to the race that Jeranimo showed much enthusiasm. The Oak Tree Mile was Jeranimo’s first start since an eighth in the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 28.
“He got a little depressed in the three weeks after the Pacific Classic,” Pender said. “In the last 10 days, he lightened up and the weight of the world was off my shoulders.
“He got the right trip today,” Pender said in the winner’s circle.
Ridden by Martin Garcia, Jeranimo ran a mile on turf in a quick 1:32.61. Monterey Jazz set a quick pace of 22.59 and 45 seconds, with Jeranimo about two lengths behind until early stretch. Jeranimo stormed to the front before the eighth pole and led by 2 1/2 lengths with a furlong remaining.
“He’s been running with the best horses,” Garcia said. “I think this was the perfect group for him. I let him run free and he put himself in that position.”
Pender said the BC Mile is a possibility for Jeranimo, a 5-year-old horse who has won 6 of 22 starts and $660,400 for owner B.J. Wright. Jeranimo won two Grade 2 stakes at Santa Anita in 2010 – the Strub Stakes on a synthetic track in February of that year and the San Gabriel Stakes on turf last December.
Jeranimo’s win on Saturday came at the expense of the promising 3-year-old Mr. Commons.
Second by a nose in the Grade 2 Del Mar Mile in August, Mr. Commons was unsettled in the starting gate on Saturday and was last of seven for the first half-mile. He closed with a wide rally but fell short. “He spotted them a couple of lengths,” trainer John Shirreffs said.
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