Favored Fencelineneighbor claimed her first graded stakes win Saturday at sloppy Santa Anita Park, overcoming a slow break to lead at every call in the $150,000 San Gorgonio Handicap (gr. III), which was reduced to a five-horse field when heavy rain forced the race off of the turf course.
Luis H. Jauregui rode the 5-year-old mare to a two-length win over the closing Uraib and Jon Court in a time of 1:49 4/5 for the 1 1/8-mile event for fillies and mares on sloppy going. It was Jauregui's first graded stakes triumph.
"To be honest, I didn't have a plan," the 35-year-old Jauregui said of his milestone victory. "I just broke and stayed as quiet as I could with her.
"The only thing I was worried about was she got a little aggressive in the first part and pulled her saddle up there, but once we settled down on the backside I knew I had a lot of horse left. I just wanted to wait as long as I could, and when I asked her she kicked on."
Dolly Wells was another length behind with Victor Espinoza aboard. Drought Breaker and Shezsospiritual trailed.
Scheduled as a grade II race, the San Gorgonio is automatically reduced to a grade III by the switch to the main track, subject to review by the American Graded Stakes Committee. Megahertz, Ask for the Moon, Hoh Buzzard, Penny's Fortune, Navaja and Theater R.N. all scratched.
Fencelineneighbor, a Florida-bred daughter of Wild Rush-Let Fly (Flying Paster), set the early pace (:23 2/5, :47 2/5, 1:11 2/5, 1:36 3/5) as Drought Breaker and Dolly Wells tracked. Fencelineneighbor edged away on the far turn to establish a solid lead in the stretch, then held on gamely as the Irish-bred Uraib edged up menacingly.
Winning trainer Michael Machowsky said Fencelineneighbor should return in the Sunshine Millions Jan. 29 for owner Amerman Racing LLC.
The Amermans purchased Fencelineneighbor privately from Frank Bertolino's Monarch Stables 15 months ago, according to Machowsky.
Machowsky supplemented the mare for $3,000 to the race this week. "I told Luis (Jauregui) to ride her like he was on the best horse," he said. "All she had to do was do her thing."
Marablue Farm bred the winner.
Fencelineneighbor was coming off a five-length win over allowance foes in her last start at Golden Gate Fields Dec. 20, which ended a seven-race losing streak. She had a win and a third in two previous starts on an off-track. Overall, she improved to 8-5-5 in 26 lifetime outings with earnings of $467,257.
She paid $4.80, $3.20 and $2.40. Uraib returned $3.20 and $2.60. Dolly Wells was $3 to show.