Late-running Jeranimo returned to his best form with a perfect setup in the $300,000 Eddie Read Stakes (gr. IT) July 20, soaring through the stretch under a confident Rafael Bejarano to win going away at Del Mar (VIDEO).
The 1 1/2-length triumph on the turf marked the second in a grade I for the 7-year-old son of Congaree whose two most recent outings were not up to his usual standard for trainer Mike Pender.
Owned by B.J. Wright and Robert LaPenta, Jeranimo benefited from a quick pace as the 5-2 favorite to win the 1 1/8-mile event in a solid 1:45.80 over firm going. The Eddie Read was the first grade I test of the season at Del Mar.
A pair of outsiders, 23-1 Vagabond Shoes and 37-1 Fly Lexis Fly, took the second and third spots, respectively, in the field of nine.
Bred in Florida by Brylynn Farm out of the Jeblar mare Jera, Jeranimo was coming off a non-threatening fourth-place finish in the Shoemaker Mile (gr. IT) June 25 at Betfair Hollywood Park, a race he won in 2012. Jeranimo was seventh in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. I) prior to that, never getting involved, although the yielding turf at Churchill Downs was a legitimate excuse. He began the year with a victory in the San Gabriel Stakes (gr. IIT) on the Santa Anita Park turf in January.
Jeranimo now counts seven graded stakes wins among his 10 victories from 35 lifetime starts, and the Eddie Read's $180,000 purse increased the big bay's earnings to $1,400,864. He ran second in the 2011 renewal of the Eddie Read, a race won the past two years by the retired Acclamation.
"It seems almost surreal to say the horse redeemed himself when he had nothing to prove," Pender commented. "They're going to say this was a weak rendition of the Eddie Read, but all he has done is run second to Accclamation and take down the winning honors today.
"I think when Jeranimo is in a real horserace, where there's speed, tactical speed, and deep closers like himself, that's when he's able to shine. And today he had perfect conditions."
Able to settle in near the back of the pack under a patient Bejarano, Jeranimo appeared comfortable as Fed Biz and Slim Shadey engaged in a speed duel, eventually pulling five lengths clear of the rest while posting sharp quarter mile fractions of :23.22, :46.23, and 1:09.73. Slim Shadey was the first to give in as the rest of the field drew closer to the leaders rounding the final turn.
Fly Lexis Fly, who had stalked the leaders in third under Edwin Maldonado, ranged up on the outside of Fed Biz to get a narrow advantage in the stretch while Barocci and Vagabond Shoes loomed as threats. But none could match the sweeping move produced by Jeranimo, who flew past the leaders down the center of the course in deep stretch to draw off approaching the wire.
"My horse likes to make that last run and he's really got a good kick," Bejarano said after his second win in the Eddie Read. "You can do what you want with him. He's so classy. I have a lot of confidence when I ride him."
Irish-bred Vagabond Shoes, ridden by Victor Espinoza, edged Fly Lexis Fly by half a length for second, with Fed Biz hanging on for fourth. Barocci was next, followed by Cogito, Middie, Slim Shadey, and Sofast, the group I-placed French import who was well-backed at 3-1 in his first U.S, start.
Carrying co-high weight of 121 pounds, Jeranimo paid $7.80, $4.20, and $3.80. Dual French group III winner Vagabond Shoes, one of two entrants in the field for Hronis Racing and trainer John Sadler, returned $13.60 and $8.60 in his best effort in five United States starts. The exacta was worth $130.80. Fly Lexis Fly, a dual grade I winner in Peru, paid $11 to show after being supplemented to the race for $3,000 by trainer Peter Miller.
Lucayan was scratched.