Southern Equine Stables' Moreno made nine starts before he found the winner's circle for trainer Eric Guillot, but once he did, he rather liked it there.
From maiden victor on June 8 to an easy winner of the $200,000 Dwyer Stakes (gr. II), the sophomore son of Ghostzapper impressed July 6 at Belmont Park when he took a 6-horse field wire-to-wire by seven lengths to earn his second consecutive score (VIDEO).
"We were going to go to Saratoga, so we put him on a plane to come out here when we ran Salutos Amigos (in the grade II Woody Stephens presented by NYRA Rewards) and have company for him to work with," said John Daley, assistant to Guillot. "This horse has done amazing since we have been here. He just really seems to have blossomed; all of his works have been fantastic. He's put on weight. With the way he ran in his maiden race, we figured that while we are here, why not take a shot?"
The 1 1/16-mile Dwyer was a first graded stakes win for both the bay gelding and for 19-year-old jockey Jose Ortiz. They completed the distance in 1:41.07, followed home by Saint Vigeur and For Greater Glory. The latter overcame an extremely poor start to hit the board; he leapt at the break and was left by half a dozen lengths.
Moreno, off at odds of 5-1, bumped slightly with Saint Vigeur but was untroubled and went straight to the lead in the first few strides, establishing command for a reasonable opening quarter of :24.21 and a half in :47.36. Saint Vigeur and 3-2 favorite Battier gave chase, but Ortiz and his mount were cruising along comfortably and never appeared in danger of being challenged.
Approaching the top of the stretch with ears pricked for three-quarters in 1:10.89, Moreno lengthened strides and kicked clear with all the advantage. He drew away through a mile in 1:34.86 and was under wraps in the final sixteenth, cruising clear beneath the line.
"He won very good last time," Ortiz said. "I worked him twice and he worked pretty good. The trainer told me he came back very good, so I had plenty of confidence in my horse. I want to say thank you to the owners, and the trainer, the assistant and the groom, the hotwalker, everyone. Everyone wants to win a graded stakes. This is my first one and I hope it's not going to be my last."
Bred in Kentucky by Southern Equine out of the A.P. Indy mare Danceinthesunlight, Moreno now has a 2-3-1 record from 11 starts, with earnings of $215,440.
"He's a beautiful mover and kind of floats across the ground," Daley said. "It seems like he is all lungs; he can run all day and can barely blow out a candle. We've been a little frustrated; we always knew there was a little more there. I'm just glad he showed his true colors today. He'll ship to Saratoga tomorrow morning, take a little break, and we'll see what's next."