Rated well off a fast contested pace, Gomez energetically guided Stevie Wonderboy, five wide on the turn, to an impressive finish in the middle of the track, completing the seven-furlong event for 2-year-olds in 1:22 2/5 under a long hold. It was five lengths back to a pair of Calder shippers, The Pharaoh and Jealous Profit, who ran second and third, respectively, in the field of 11.
The Doug O'Neill-trained Stevie Wonderboy began his career with two losses behind the ill-fated What a Song, but showed his explosive turn of foot in his last start, a four-length win over maiden special weight foes on Aug. 6. Prior to that, the Kentucky-bred son of Stephen Got Even-Heat Lightning (by Summer Squall) was a closing third, 1 1/4 lengths behind What a Song, in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship (gr. III) July 16. He has now won two of four career starts and earned $202,140.
A.P. Warrior, ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, gained a slight lead over One Union on his outside early while Bashert and The Pharaoh kept the pressure on through swift early fractions of :21 4/5 and :44 1/5. On the turn for home The Pharaoh, racing along the inside dropped back a bit as the other three fought it out down the stretch. But showing the effects of their earlier effort, none of the pacesetters was up to holding off the cruising Stevie Wonderboy.
The Pharaoh, who was runner-up to Florida's top 2-year-old In Summation in his last start, rallied under Jon Court after getting off the rail to finish second by a half-length over the late-running Jealous Profit and Corey Nakatani, who recovered after being slammed and shut off at the break.
Bashert, who defeated Stevie Wonderboy when second in the Hollywood Juvenile and came back with a second-place finish to What a Song in Del Mar's Best Pal last month, had much trouble prior to the race. The Bill Currin trainee flipped in the paddock and lost a shoe. After being re-shod he was a handful in the post parade for Rene Douglas, who was forced to jump off his mount a couple of times.
Stevie Wonderboy paid $7, $4.20 and $3.60. The Pharaoh returned $9.20 and $10. The maiden Jealous Profit, another O'Neill starter just bought by J. Paul Reddam, was $6.60 to show.
John Gunther, Tony Holmes and Walter Zent bred the winning chestnut colt, who was bought for $100,000 at Fasig-Tipton in February.
The 7-2 second choice One Union nosed Old Thunder for fourth. They were followed by A. P. Warrior, Bashert, Plug Me In, John Hennessy, Dinner Magic and El Senor Halo.
In supporting features, Indian Country and jockey Victor Espinoza scored a $17.60 upset in the $87,315 Pirate's Bounty Handicap and Simply Because and rider Patrick Valenzuela accounted for the $83,120 C.E.R.F. Handicap at $8.