Uh Oh Bango disposed of pacesetter Skipshot in upper stretch and held favored Tres Borrachos safe through the lane to win the $150,000 San Pasqual Stakes (gr. II) by 1 3/4 lengths Jan. 7 at Santa Anita (VIDEO).
Ridden for the first time by Mike Smith, 7-1 shot Uh Oh Bango earned his first victory since taking the Berkeley Stakes (gr. III) at Golden Gate Fields May 30. Kory Owens trains Triple AAA Ranch's winning 5-year-old Arizona homebred son of Top Hit--French Debutante (by French Deputy).
Uh Oh Bango atoned for a troubled fourth-place finish in the All American Stakes (gr. III) at Golden Gate Nov. 25 when he hopped in the air at the start and nearly unseated jockey Aaron Gryder. Uh Oh Bango won for the first time in four starts at Santa Anita while completing the 1 1/16-mile San Pasqual distance in a good 1:41.44 on a fast track.
“I had never ridden him so I called Aaron this morning to find out a little bit about him," Smith said. "He said he was unlucky last time and that he should run good today. He told me that he was even-paced and for me not to expect a quick turn of foot.
"I shared that with Kory in the paddock and he agreed, so I decided to lay close with him and he got brave early. I moved early with him and it worked out and I’ll tell you, he galloped out strong to about the half mile pole, so there’s more left.”
Tres Borrachos, a close second in Hollywood Park's Native Diver Handicap (gr. III) Dec. 3, was the slight 2-1 choice in the field of seven older horses. The 7-year-old Ecton Park gelding was favored despite being winless in seven prior starts over the track. He carried top weight of 123 pounds.
Uh Oh Bango tracked the leaders in mid-pack on the outside early as Skipshot, breaking from the rail, took the lead over Tres Borrachos and Java Man while carving easy fractions of :23.42, :47.14, and 1:10.39. Uh Oh Bango progressed into second on the backstretch before Skip Shot opened a clear advantage rounding the far turn.
Uh Oh Bango advanced quickly, however, to challenge Skipshot in upper stretch as Tres Borrachos, racing along the inside, was briefly hemmed in. Tres Borrachos, ridden by Joel Rosario, got clear and rallied through the homestretch but could not catch Uh Oh Bango. The winner drew away in the final furlong under left-handed urging from Smith to win convincingly.
Tres Borrachos finished 2 1/4 lengths in front of Skipshot as second choice Tweebster, also sent off at 2-1 odds, struggled home fourth. Java Man, Utopian, and Massone completed the order.
Uh Oh Bango, who improved his career record to 5-5-2 in 17 lifetime races. He has now banked $532,712 with the winning purse of $90,000 for the San Pasqual.
“I finally got that Grade II," Owens said. "He’s been having races go hit and miss for him lately. He’ll get there, the pace won’t set up for him, or there’s something else wrong. He finally put it all together today and that was a good thing to see."
Uh Oh Bango carried 118 pounds and paid $16, $6.60, $4.80 as the fourth choice. Tres Borrachos, who went over the $900,000 mark in career earnings with his runner-up effort for trainer Marty Jones, returned $3.80 and $3. The exacta was worth $53.40. Skipshot paid $7.20 to show.
“He tries hard every time," Jones said of the runner-up. "He’s a true professional racehorse. You’d like to win, but you can’t be disappointed with his effort."