Making his stakes debut, career claimer Jimanator outdueled odds-on favorite Mambo Meister to win the $100,000 Fred W. Hooper Handicap (gr. III) (VIDEO) by three-quarters of a length Nov. 26 at Calder Casino & Race Course.
A 5-year-old Broken Vow gelding, Jimanator is owned by Three Diamonds Farm, who claimed him for $20,000 in August at Saratoga. That was the fourth time that Jimanator had been claimed, as he was also plucked twice at Fair Grounds and once at Churchill Downs.
Michael Trombetta trains Jimanator, who entered off a 6 1/4-length allowance score at Parx Racing Oct. 11. He was ridden to victory by Joe Bravo. They covered 1 1/8 miles of the fast dirt in 1:53.56.
The winner was bred in Kentucky by James Orr Jr., and is out of the Smart Strike mare Beached. This was his 10th win from 34 lifetime starts.
The pace was set by Tellum Berto, who raced through opening fractions of :24.28 and :49.60 with Sky Venture and Mambo Meister pressing him. Those three were racing in tandem after six furlongs in 1:14.20, but Mambo Meister, a seven-time stakes winner at Calder, grabbed the lead coming off the turn with Fernando Jara aboard.
Racing just behind the top three the whole way, Jimanator came to take on Mambo Meister at the top of the lane and those two dueled the length of the stretch. Jimanator, on the outside, finally got the best of his rival in the final yards.
Mambo Mesiter was 5 1/4 lengths in front of third-place Stimulus Plan. Sky Venture was fourth in a field of eight.
Jimanator was racing at Calder for the first time. In 10 previous starts this year he has raced at Parx, Monmouth Park, Saratoga, Churchill Downs, Indiana Downs, Keeneland, and Fair Grounds. This was his fourth victory in 2011.
Jimanator has earned $240,785.
"We claimed this horse at Saratoga for a couple of reasons," said Kirk Wycoff, who owns Three Diamonds with his wife, Deborah. "He’s by Broken Vow and we’ve had success with horses by him before. And my son Jordon is a student of the figures and he liked him based on that.
"After his last race at Parx we decided to take a shot in this race. We thought he’d like the mile-and-an-eighth. He’s probably earned a little break now. He’ll go to Palm Meadows and Michael will decide what’s next for him."
Sent off as the second choice, he paid $7, $2.80, and $2.20. The $2 exacta (4-8) returned $14.60 and the $2 trifecta (4-8-1) was worth $43.