Heavily favored Jibboom, able to post soft fractions while dueling for the lead into the stretch, pulled away in the lane to score an easy 2 1/2-length win in the off-the-turf $150,000 Buena Vista Handicap (gr. III) (VIDEO) at soggy Santa Anita Park Feb. 16.
The race, originally carded as a grade II event at one mile on the lawn, lost seven starters. Jibboom, a 5-year-old gray/roan mare owned and bred by Juddmonte Farms and trained by Bobby Frankel, seems at home on either surface, however. The daughter of Mizzen Mast has won three of four starts since Frankel shipped her to his Santa Anita stable from the East Coast this season.
Under a confident Garrett Gomez, Jibboom led from the start, though she was under pressure from the outset by San Gorgonio Handicap (gr. IIT) winner Tizfiz. Even so, the fractions on the Pro-Ride racing surface were nothing short of creaky -- :25.10, :50.30 and 1:15.18 -- through six furlongs. In upper stretch, Tizfiz, ridden by Agapito Delgadillo, drifted out and Jibboom crept away at the rail. She built a 2 1/2-length lead mid-stretch and won under a brisk hand ride. The final time was a slow 1:38.68.
The victory, at odds of 6-5, gave Gomez back-to-back graded wins on the Santa Anita program after he guided the filly Evita Argentina to victory over a field of 3-year-old males in the $150,000 San Vicente Stakes (gr. II). He went on to win the afternoon's nightcap as well.
“She was comfortable with me the whole way," Gomez said. "It’s a little deep out there, kind of like a soft, deep turf and she’s been running on firm ground, but she handled it well. When I asked her to accelerate, she did so willingly. She’s a beautiful filly and she does everything right.”
Second choice Foxysox, who stalked in third place into the stretch for Rafael Bejarano, passed Tizfiz in the final furlong to finish a clear second by three lengths. Tizfiz was third by a head over Highland Torree.
Jibboom ran second to stablemate Ventura by a length in her last start, the Santa Monica Handicap (gr. I), on the Pro-Ride at seven furlongs Jan. 31. This was her first try at the one-mile distance over any surface. The ultra-consistent Jibboom now has five wins and four runner-up finishes in 11 lifetime starts. The winning purse in the Buena Vista of $90,000 increased her lifetime earnings to $487,600.
It was Frankel's 909th victory at Santa Anita, where he is the career wins leader. He also saddled last year's Buena Vista winner, Costume, who was ridden by Gomez.
“I thought there was going to be more speed in the race, but she broke so sharp, (Gomez) went to the lead and just nursed the pace and came real strong at the end,” noted Humberto Ascanio, Frankel's assistant.
The winner, out of Palisade, by Gone West, was bred in Kentucky.
Assigned just 117 pounds, Jibboom paid $4.40, $2.40 and $2.10 for the easy win. Foxysox, a grade II winner on both turf and synthetic for trainer Carla Gaines, returned $2.40 and $2.20 while capping a $2 exacta worth $9.20. Tizfiz, who came into the race with back-to-back stakes wins on grass for trainer Rafael Deleon, was $3 to show.
Highland Torree was followed by Trouble Maker, Annie Skates and I Can See. Scratched were Belmont Cat, Miss Singhsix, Santa Teresita, Modern Look, Charming Legacy, Magical Fantasy and Bahama Mama.