In a rail-skimming ride under a confident Rafael Bejarano, Jeranimo easily defeated six rivals in the Dec. 27 San Gabriel Stakes (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita. Odds-on favorite The Usual Q.T. finished third in his first defeat on the Arcadia turf and in his first start since his game third in the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) behind Goldikova (VIDEO).
Persistant rains had rendered the turf course good and reduced the field by three, including the well-regarded Unusual Suspect. Second-choice Jeranimo, coming off an impressive turf debut in a Hollywood Park allowance a month ago, rated along the rail near the back of compact field. He began his bid on the far turn then sprinted clear in midstretch as Proudinsky, seeking a third consecutive San Gabriel, drifted off the rail. Jeranimo completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.20 and paid $10. 20, $5.20, and $2.80. Proudinsky returned $5.40 and $2.80 while The Usual Q.T., who had raced behind pacesetter Violon Sacre then flattened in the stretch, paid $2.20 to show.
Jeranimo, a 4-year-old son of Congaree, won the Strub Stakes on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface earlier this year. Despite the colt's 2 1/2-length margin in the $150,000 San Gabriel, Michael Pender stopped short of saying future engagements would be limited to the turf. "We're going to look at all invitations. I would ultimately love to run him here in the Big 'Cap [Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) on the dirt March 5]. We ran in it last year (finishing fourth) and it would be great to go back there and seek a little revenge," he said.
"This horse is as good as he's ever been and Rafael rode him great," Pender added.
The San Gabriel brings Jeranimo's record to 5-3-2 in 15 starts with earnings of $429,400.
Owned by J. B Wright, the bay colt was bred in Florida by Brylynn Farm and is out of the Jeblar mare Jera. He sold for $70,000 at Barretts in March 2008.