Favored Jeranimo rebounded from his seventh-place finish in the TVG Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) three weeks ago with a decisive 2 3/4-length victory in the $250,000 Citation Handicap (gr. IIT) on the Hollywood Park turf Nov. 26. (VIDEO)
Trained by Michael Pender for owner B.J. Wright, Jeranimo rallied from sixth while coming wide off the far turn for jockey Garrett Gomez. He swept by his rivals in the final sixteenth of a mile and won going away impressively in a solid 1:40.87 for the 1 1/16-mile distance on firm going.
Out of the Jeblar mare Jera, Jeranimo was bred in Florida by BryLynn Farm.
Jeranimo won the Oak Tree Mile (gr. IIT) in sharp style Oct. 8 at Santa Anita. But the 5-year-old son of Congaree faded in the Breeders' Cup Mile at odds of 26-1 after pressing the pace to mid-stretch on a good turf course at Churchill Downs Nov. 5. He finished 5 3/4 lengths behind the victorious Court Vision .
Back at home in Southern California, Jeranimo posted his second win in three starts on the Hollywood Park grass as the 8-5 choice in the field of nine.
Pender said he heard "the doubters and naysayers" about bringing Jeranimo back after just three weeks.
“I actually started believing that stuff," he said. "But you follow your horse, I guess. He’s just so push button. Everything he does seems so easy for him. He takes everything in stride and wakes up every morning with a big happy smile on his face and says let’s just go out there and do it. He’s the epitome of a race horse."
Jeranimo settled near mid-pack for Gomez and tracked the pacesetter Bob Black Jack , who led Assessment, Calimonco , and John Johny Jak though pedestrian fractions of :24.21, :48.68, and 1:11.58. Jeranimo chased the leaders while off the rail through the turn.
Grade I winner Bob Black Jack, urged on by Joe Talamo in his turf debut, tried to steal away from his rivals rounding the final bend but began to weaken in the lane. Calimonco, ridden by Mike Smith, then took over past mid-stretch narrowly over Bob Black Jack and John Johny Jak. But Jeranimo, under a full head of steam blew past them all to win easily while under a strong hand ride from Gomez.
“He relaxed real well and found himself in a nice little spot," Gomez said. "They weren’t going very fast, but he was real comfortable and traveling well. That’s the main concern with him.
"He settled in beautiful and it was just a matter of finding somewhere to go. When I showed him where to go he put it all together.’’
War Element, also closing for Joel Rosario, was no match for the winner but got up late to edge Calimonco by a head for second, with John Johny Jak another half-length back in fourth.
Bob Black Jack, who has had a number of injury setbacks in his career, was unsaddled into the clubhouse turn and vanned off the course. The 6-year-old California bred suffered suspensory and possibly sesamoid injuries to his left front leg.
Jeranimo ran his career record to 7-4-4 in 24 starts with earnings of $810,400. His second win in nine starts this year was worth $150,000 to his connections.
Under high weight of 122 pounds, he paid $5.40, $3, and $2.80.
Warren B. Williamson's homebred War Element, making an impressive graded stakes debut for trainer Carla Gaines, returned $3.80 and $3.20. The $2 exacta paid $25.80.
“It really was a great race for him," Gaines said. "It’s a new place for him and the lights may have bothered him. He was four or five wide both turns. He’s got a great future. He may want a little bit longer race. He actually galloped out with the winner."
Calimonco, rebounding from a seventh-place finish in the Oak Tree Mile for trainer John Sadler, was $5.40 to show.
John Johny Jak was followed by Leroy's Dynameaux, Bob Black Jack, Make Music for Me, Buenos Dias, and Assessment.