On paper, Monterey Jazz is the lone speed in a field of six contesting the $300,000 Texas Mile Stakes (gr. III) April 26 at Lone Star Park. If he kicks clear, there may be no catching son of Thunderello, who looks for his third graded stakes score in less four months in the one-mile main track event.
Trained by Craig Dollase, Monterey Jazz will make his first lifetime start outside of California. The versatile dark bay colt has won four of his last six overall, including gate-to-wire triumphs in the Dec. 27 Sir Beaufort Stakes (gr. III) on the Santa Anita turf and Feb. 2 Strub (gr. II) on the Santa Anita Cushion Track. Most recently, he led through the first three calls of the March 1 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), but tired badly to finish last as the favorite in the 1 1/4-mile trek.
Though he has done his best running on turf and synthetic surfaces, Monterey Jazz does have a win over traditional dirt, that coming last September in allowance company at Fairplex Park. The 4-year-old has won five of 12 lifetime starts overall.
“The mile is probably his best distance,” Dollase said. “He ran well on dirt last summer and the way horses are running out of California is encouraging, but we’ll have to wait and see. It’s a small field, but there are no slouches in here. It looks like he’ll pretty much dictate the pace, which is the way he likes to run. He basically just says, ‘Come get me.’
“If he proves that he can handle the dirt again, we’ll probably point toward the Met Mile (gr. I, May 26, Belmont Park). The timing would be right. If not, he’ll go back to turf.”
Out of the Dynaformer mare Reefside, Monterey Jazz was bred in Kentucky by Danzel Brendemuehl. He is owned by the partnership of A and R Racing Stables and Class Racing Stable. David Flores, aboard for both of his graded stakes scores, is back in the irons.
Major competition should come in the form of Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Zanjero, a 2007 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) starter who had a pair of graded stakes wins as a 3-year-old. By Cherokee Run, Zanjero won both the West Virginia Derby (gr. II) and Indiana Derby (gr. II) in a terrific sophomore campaign that included in-the-money finishes in all but one of eight starts—all of which were graded stakes.
Trained by Steve Asmussen, Zanjero will be making his 4-year-old debut. It will come after a more than six-month layoff. Most recently, he worked six furlongs in 1:14.20 at Keeneland. Shaun Bridgmohan will get the call.
Also to consider is 5-year-old Scrappy Roo, a Roo Art gelding entering with a five-race win streak for trainer John Locke, who took over training duties late last year. All five of the victories have come on the Sam Houston turf, the last one a head score in the 1 1/8-mile John B. Connally Turf (gr. IIIT) April 5.
Bred in Texas by Dr. David Taylor, Scrappy Roo has won eight of 15 lifetime starts, six of them on the grass.
The other graded stakes winner is Kindred Thoroughbreds’ Going Ballistic, who captured Louisiana Downs’ Super Derby (gr. II) last September. After that score, the Lite the Fuse colt took the Oklahoma Derby before getting soundly defeated in his final two starts of the season.
Trained by Donnie Von Hemel, Going Ballistic has been competitive in both of his 2008 starts, finishing third in the March 8 Razorback Handicap (gr. III) on the Oaklawn Park Dirt, and most recently, losing by a head to Scrappy Roo in the John B. Connally Turf.
$300,000 Texas Mile (gr. III, Race 10, 5:47 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 Mile
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Scrappy Roo (TX), 123, Justin Shepherd
2. Going Ballistic (FL), 118, M. Clifton Berry
3. Gold Wonder (FL), 116, Eguard A. Tejera
4. Beta Capo (KY), 118, Luis S. Quinonez
5. Monterey Jazz (KY), 123, David Romero Flores
6. Zanjero (KY), 118, Shaun Bridgmohan