Sent off at odds of nearly 15-1, Stoneside was reserved early and used a ground-saving trip under Martin Pedroza to kick away in the final furlong for a 1 3/4-length win in the about 6 1/2-furlong grass test for older horses. The 4-year-old Irish-bred colt gained his first win in five starts for trainer Julio Canani. The final time was a smart 1:12.54 over firm going.
“He’s a stretch runner, he’s not a front-runner," Canani said in explaining Stoneside's improvement.
Stoneside raced mid-pack while racing on the inside of traffic as the New Zealand-bred favorite Giovanni, pressed by Tenga Cat, set lively fractions of :21.73 and :43.82 coming down the hill. The pace took its toll on the pacesetter as they came off the turn, with Tenga Cat taking command in upper stretch. Tenga Cat, ridden by Alonso Quinonez, battled back when collared by Stoneside, rallying along the rail, but ran out of gas in the final furlong. Tenga Cat settled for third as Night Chapter and Brice Blanc closed willingly to gain the runner-up spot by a half-length.
Giovanni, sent off as the lukewarm 9-2 choice, weakened to finish last.
Big things were expected stateside from Stoneside, a middle-distance competitor for Rodolphe Collet in France who ran second to Lawman in the one-mile Prix Jean Prat (Fr-I) at Chantilly last July. However, the bay son of Marchand de Sable was slow to adapt to American racing last summer. Stoneside ran sixth in the Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT), then took third in the Oak Tree Derby (gr. IIT), though well beaten by the victorious Daytona.
After a 2 1/2-month break, Stoneside finished seventh in the Sir Beaufort (gr. IIIT) Dec. 26 to open the Santa Anita meet, then laid off for nearly two months more before fading to 10th after dueling on the lead in the Daytona Handicap in his first try on the hillside.
“I had a perfect trip," said Pedroza, who rode Stoneside for the first time in the San Simeon. "Julio didn’t want this horse on the lead today. He told me to lay about five or six lengths off the pace and to try and find somewhere to run at the top of the stretch. They were really high on this horse at Del Mar and Julio loved him today. We’ve had a lot of luck together.”
Stoneside carried 115 pounds to victory and improved to 5-6-3 in 18 starts in the U.S. and Europe with earnings of $353,886. The victory was worth $67,440.
Sent off as the third-longest shot in the field of 11, Stoneside paid $31.80, $15.20 and $9. The late-running Night Chapter, on a six-race losing streak for trainer Bobby Frankel, returned $8 and $4.60 and completed a $2 exacta worth $319.60. Tenga Cat was $5.40 to show in his graded stakes debut for trainer Mike Marlow.
It was a head to the Chilean-bred El Manuel in fourth, followed by Unusual Suspect, Soul City Slew, Cheroot, Council Member, Carrilero, Don't Ya Lovett and Giovanni.
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