Jet West, a 5-year-old California-bred sprinter claimed by trainer Ted H. West for $62,000 in August, seeks his fourth straight victory for his new connections Monday in Santa Anita's $100,000 El Conejo Handicap (gr. III) at 5 ½ furlongs.
The El Conejo, supported by the $75,000 Hill Rise Stakes, heads a nine-race holiday program that concludes an extended opening week of racing at Santa Anita's 86-day race meeting.
Seeking his first graded stakes win, Jet West is among 13 entrants in the El Conejo, whose largest starting field was 11 in the 1981 inaugural.
The bay son of Western Fame reeled off a pair of victories in allowance company following the West claim on behalf of owner Bruce Hochman. He proceeded to defeat Areyoutalkintome by a nose in Oak Tree's $150,000 California Cup Sprint Handicap on Nov. 7. Areyoutalkintome captured last year's El Conejo but is skipping the race this year.
"Now the pressure's on," said trainer West. "He's got to go for four in a row, but I'll tell you, he actually seems like he's on the improve. We're pretty confident."
Jet West, who drew post No. 12, will be ridden for the third consecutive time by Kent Desormeaux and was assigned high weight of 117 pounds. His career record shows seven wins in 13 starts with earnings of $274,249.
The field's most accomplished runner is Mighty Beau, a 7-year-old who has earned $519,809 from a career record of 9-13-3 in 41 starts. A graded stakes winner, the Jeff Mullins trainee returns to the main track after racing exclusively on grass the past couple of years.
Garrett Gomez, who completed his best campaign in 2005, reunites with Jungle Prince. The pair combined for a one-length victory in the Governor's Cup Handicap at Fairplex on Sept. 25 in their only alliance.
"He's pretty versatile," Gomez said of the gelded son of Sir Cat
who has a 5-5-4 record from 21 starts. "He used to show a lot of speed but the day I rode him he came from off the pace ... I see where he won in New Mexico (Zia Park) and he was up towards the front there, too. He acts like he's a real honest horse."$100,000 El Conejo Handicap (gr. III, Race 8, 4 p.m.), 4 & up, 5 1/2 furlongs
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Red Warrior (CA), 115, Agapito Delgadillo
2. Jungle Prince (KY), 116, Garrett K. Gomez
3. Moon Mission (CA), 113, Isaias D. Enriquez
4. Shadow of Illinois (CA), 115, Patrick A. Valenzuela
5. Gray Black N White (KY), 115, Jose Valdivia, Jr.
6. Fusaichi Rock Star (FL), 114, David R. Flores
7. Stone Rain (KY), 114, Jon K. Court
8. Mighty Beau (OK), 116, Alex O. Solis
9. Excess Summer (CA), 113, Tyler Baze
10. Slew's Prince (CA), 114, Corey S. Nakatani
11. With Distinction (KY), 116, Victor Espinoza
12. Jet West (CA), 117, Kent J. DesormeauxAlso Eligible
13. Scotty's Ladd (CA), 110, Guillermo R. Gutierrez