Monterey Jazz, a 4-year-old Thunderello colt who was the 3-5 choice of the public, was making his first start outside of California for trainer Craig Dollase and owners A & R Stables and Class Racing Stable.
Ridden by David Flores, Monterey Jazz grabbed the lead from Scrappy Roo heading into the clubhouse turn and, after opening a five-length lead at the halfway point, was never threatened. The dark bay raced well off the rail on the far turn, but responded when asked to maintain his wide margin through the lane. The final time was 1:35.25 on a fast track.
"He was really able to relax on the lead today and when he hit that second turn, he just had another gear," Flores said. "I made sure he was square in the gate and he broke well. I didn't have to rush him to the lead, and once he got around the first turn, I didn't want to look back."
This was a rare start on dirt for Monterey Jazz, who had raced nine of his previous 10 races on turf or synthetic surfaces. The victory added to a superb 2008 season so far for the Kentucky-bred. Monterey Jazz won the Sir Beaufort (gr. IIIT) on turf and the Strub (gr. II) on artificial track at the recently concluded Santa Anita meet. He has won three of four starts this year, his only blemish coming in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) in which he faded badly as the lukewarm favorite.
"We wanted to find some things out today with regard to how he'd handle shipping and how he'd handle a dirt surface," said co-owner Joe Masino, who was in attendance as a representative of Class Racing Stable. "He ran a great race and this gives us a lot of options. David is 4-for-4 aboard him and we'll keep going back to David as long as we can."
Monterey Jazz clipped off comfortable fractions of :24.50, :47.15, and 1:10.64 while building his insurmountable lead. Zanjero, who broke outward and last for Shaun Bridgmohan, rallied for second, 3 3/4 lengths ahead of Beta Capo and Luis Quinoonez. Both the second- and third-place finishers were trained by Steve Asmussen.
Going Ballistic, Scrappy Roo—whose five-race winning streak came to an end—and Gold Wonder completed the order.
Monterey Jazz collected $185,000 for his sixth lifetime win in 13 starts and boosted his overall earnings to $532,740. Danzel Brendemuehl bred the colt, who is out of Reefside, by Dynaformer. Monterey Jazz sold for $85,000 as a 2-year-old at the Ocala Breeders' Sale in April 2006.
The winner carried co-high weight of 123 pounds to victory and paid $3.20, $2.20, and $2.10. Multiple graded stakes winner Zanjero, making his first start since since winning the Indiana Derby (gr. II) Oct. 6 of last year, returned $2.80 and $2.40 as the second choice. Beta Capo, a winner over the Lone Star grass course a year ago, was $3.20 to show.