Monterey Jazz and jockey Tyler Baze played come and catch me in Hollywood Park's American Handicap (gr. II) (VIDEO) July 4 on the grass. Guess what? No one did.
After setting a course record at Hollywood for one mile (1:32 2/5) in his last start, trainer Craig Dollase decided to try Monterey Jazz an extra furlong in the American, which at 1 1/8 miles was the longest trip the 5-year-old son of Thunderello had ever tried on the turf.
Baze got Monterey Jazz to settle just off the slow early pace set by Storm Military, but by the time they left the clubhouse turn, Monterey Jazz had dragged his way to the front. The second choice quickly took command on the backstretch and expanded his advantage to six lengths on the final turn.
As 6-5 race favorite Whatsthescript and Artiste Royal tried desperately to get involved mid-stretch, Baze went to work on his mount with strong hand urging and they easily kept their rivals at bay. Monterey Jazz was clocked in a sharp 1:46.11 on firm going while winning by 3 1/4 lengths. Artiste Royal, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, edged Whatsthescript and Joel Rosario for second by 1 1/4 lengths.
"He goes fast but he does it easy," said Baze, who was wearing red, white, and blue silks for owners A & R Stables and Class Racing Stable.
"David Flores gave me a tip about riding this horse," Baze added after winning for the second time in three tries on Monterey Jazz. "He told me don't hit him because he always gives 100 percent. The last race I never hit him and today I never hit him.
"He doesn't really break fast, he kind of breaks flat-footed. Going a mile and one eighth, Craig (Dollase) said not to send him too hard because he didn't want him running off. But once he starts going he just pulls you along. You've just got to try and nurse him along as best you can and pray he has something to come home with. He was strong at the end today."
Quarter-mile fractions were cruising for Monterey Jazz -- :24.27, :47.72, and 1:10.99. The dark bay horse remained perfect in three starts on the Hollywood turf.
Monterey Jazz won the Strub Stakes (gr. II) on synthetic and the Texas Mile (gr. III) on dirt last year, giving Dollase plenty of options for his versatile runner. Now an eight-time victor in 19 lifetime starts with earnings of $670,880, Monterey Jazz could next run in the Del Mar Mile (gr. IIT) or the Longacres Mile (gr. III) at Emerald Downs, the trainer indicated afterward.
Monterey Jazz missed seven months last year.
“He had a fracture of the hind foot so we gave him plenty of time off," Dollase said. "It took him a while to get back into form. He had a couple soft turf courses over at Santa Anita, which he does not like. Now we had fast and firm. He’s the man now. He’s back."
Monterey Jazz carried 119 pounds and paid $7.40, $4.60, and $3.20 while topping the $2 exacta worth $41. Irish-bred Artiste Royal returned $5.40 and $3. Whatsthescript, the 120-pound high weight, was $2.20 to show. Buenos Dias, Giant Gem, and Storm Military trailed.
Bred by Danzel Brendemuehl in Kentucky, Monterey Jazz is out of Reefside, by Dynaformer.