Trailing the field into the stretch, outsider Jeranimo angled to the middle of the track for the drive and flew home for jockey Garrett Gomez to earn his first grade I win in the $300,000 Shoemaker Mile by 1 1/4 lengths June 30 at Betfair Hollywood Park (VIDEO).
The 6-year-old son of Congaree earned a return trip to the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) Nov. 3 at Santa Anita Park with the victory. The Shoemaker Mile is part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge series, guaranteeing the winner a starting berth while paying all fees and up to $10,000 in shipping costs.
Jeranimo, who ran seventh in last year's TVG Breeders' Cup Mile at Churchill Downs, surpassed $1 million in career earnings.
Sent off at odds of nearly 9-1 in the Shoemaker, Jeranimo picked up his first win since taking the Citation Handicap (gr. IIT) over the Hollywood turf with Gomez aboard last November. The bay horse is three-for-four on the Hollywood lawn.
"This is a hard-trying horse," Gomez said. "He and I get along pretty well. We had a good trip today. We just wound him up and made one little run with him. It was the right kind of race to do that."
Michael Pender trains Jeranimo for owner B. J. Wright. Out of the Jeblar mare Jera, Jeranimo was bred by Brylynn Farm in Florida.
Pender was vacationing, Wright said.
"We have the home field advantage now," the owner said of the Breeders' Cup. "I like that home field advantage. And we have Gomez. It can't get much better than that. He's just a great racehorse."
Jeranimo ran the mile in 1:33.97 over firm ground to handily defeat Argentine import Suggestive Boy. Suggestive Boy, who came to trainer Ron McAnally this spring, was making his first start in the United States after three consecutive grade I wins last year in his native country.
Kentucky shipper Little Mike, coming off a 2 1/2-length win in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs May 5, settled for third after providing a brisk pace as the 17-10 favorite in the field of eight.
Jeranimo, a four-time grade II winner, was overlooked in the wagering after getting a brief freshening following a fast-closing second in the San Francisco Mile (gr. IIT) April 28 at Golden Gate Fields.
Little Mike, with five wins from his past six starts, went to the front over Liberian Freighter, who raced wide early with Dubai You X Y Z and Hudson Landing stalking along the inside. Little Mike dictated the tempo for Joe Bravo, running the opening quarter mile in :23.59 before picking up the pace. He clicked off a half in :46.40 and six furlongs in 1:09.81. At the back of the field were second choice Mr. Commons and Jeranimo.
Liberian Freighter backed out of contention leaving the turn as Suggestive Boy, ridden by Joe Talamo, and Corporate Jungle moved into contention behind Dubai X Y Z. Mr. Commons got the jump on Jeranimo leaving the final bend as Gomez was content to follow the rest into the home stretch while racing a bit off the rail.
Mr. Commons was closing well in the lane but lacked room as Jeranimo angled to his outside and swept past. Suggestive Boy, meanwhile, was battling a determined Little Mike and Dubai X Y Z before taking a narrow advantage from between horses in deep stretch. Jeranimo, though, had all the momentum while charging home under right-handed urging from Gomez, getting the lead close to home and edging clear in the final strides.
Suggestive Boy finished a half-length better than Little Mike.
Jeranimo earned $180,000 while improving his career mark to 8-6-4 in 28 starts. He has banked $1,068,400 in his career.
Under equal weights of 124 pounds, Jeranimo paid $19.60, $8.40, and $4 as the fifth choice while topping a $163.80 exacta. Suggestive Boy returned $9.40 and $6 in his first start since last October, while Little Mike paid $3 to show.
"This is a serious horse," Talamo said of Suggestive Boy. "He definitely needed the race, coming off a layoff. But to do that in a grade I like that, he's going to be a real nice horse."
Mr. Commons, foiled once again in his quest for a grade I win, was edged by a neck for third, two lengths behind the winner. Then came Corporate Jungle, Dubai You X Y Z, Hudson Landing, and Liberian Freighter.