(from Golden Gate Fields)
Merus Miami dropped back to last on the backstretch and then rallied through the final quarter of a mile to win the $75,000 Gold Rush Stakes by one length at Golden Gate Fields Dec. 20.
Trained by O.J. Jauregui and ridden by Alex Bisono, Merus Miami captured the one-mile race for 2-year-olds in 1:38.48 on the synthetic Tapeta track. Adriatic Moon took second by a length over 7-to-5 favorite Cut the Check.
Merus Miami, a Kentucky-bred colt by Friends Lake, was making just his second career start and his first around two turns. Merus Miami made his debut in a six-furlong maiden allowance race at Golden Gate Fields on Nov. 2 and flashed some talent when he overcame a troubled trip to win by a half-length.
Bisono was aboard for the maiden victory and was confident Merus Miami would put in a good run in the Gold Rush.
"I just wanted him to break well and settle and that's what he did," said Bisono. "I've been working him and the way he's been training I knew he was going to pick it right up when I asked him. Every time I've worked him, I've been more impressed with him. I knew he'd route well."
Merus Miami was purchased as a yearling for $100,000 by West Point Thoroughbreds, an ownership group that puts together racehorse partnerships across the U.S. Jauregui was thrilled to win a stakes for West Point.
"I've been training for West Point for a little over a year," he said. "I did some good for them and they decided to give me a 2-year-old with a little ability. The horse had been training really well and I loved him today."
Handicappers that loved Merus Miami were treated to a healthy $15.60 win payoff while West Point Thoroughbreds celebrated the winner's purse of $45,000. Merus Miami has earned $62,400 in his two races.
Jauregui said Merus Miami will make his next start in the $100,000 California Derby, a 1 1/16-mile race that will be run Jan. 17 at Golden Gate Fields.
Backbackbackgone, the 7-to-5 morning line favorite in the Gold Rush, was scratched from the race, as was 12-to-1 outsider Free Action. The defections left a field of seven to contest the feature.
"I just decided that I'm going to wait and run him next week in either the Eddie Logan at Santa Anita or the Lost in the Fog at Turf Paradise," said Peter Miller, trainer of Backbackbackgone.
The $70,000-added Eddie Logan Stakes, a one-mile turf race, and the $50,000 Lost in the Fog Juvenile Stakes, a 6 1/2-furlong dirt test, will both be run Dec. 27.