MOGER JR. STABLE STARS STILLETO BOY, CHASE THE CHAOS AND TARANTINO READY TO RACE ON BIG CAP DAY AT SANTA ANITA
Earlier this week, trainer Ed Moger Jr. watched the Bay Area rain fall at his Sunny Creek Farm in Galt, California. The good news is sunshine is expected later in the week, and Moger hopes the light will shine bright on his three stable stars come Saturday afternoon at Santa Anita.
On Saturday, Moger saddles El Camino Real Derby winner Chase the Chaos in the Grade II $400,000 San Felipe Stakes, Tarantino in a second level allowance, and Stilleto Boy in the $500,000 Grade I Santa Anita Handicap. All three horses will make the 8-hour van ride to Santa Anita on Thursday, with Moger at the steering wheel using his own trailer.
The first one to the plate will be Chase the Chaos, winning of the El Camino Real Derby on February 11 at Golden Gate. The son of Astern competes in Race 6 on Saturday at Santa Anita, the Grade II San Felipe Stakes for 3-year-olds at one mile and a sixteenth on dirt. The San Felipe awards 50 Kentucky Derby points to the winner, 20 points for second, 15 for third, 10 for fourth and 5 for fifth. With the El Camino Real Derby victory, Chase the Chaos earned 10 Kentucky Derby points and an all-expenses paid, free berth into the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness. Chase the Chaos has worked twice since the El Camino Real; a half mile drill on February 20 and a five-furlong work five mornings later.
“Chase the Chaos is doing really well,” said Moger Jr. “He just doesn’t have a bad day, that horse.
He came back to the barn [after the El Camino Real Derby] like he hadn’t even run. He wasn’t all out to win-I don’t think. [Jockey] Armando [Ayuso] only used the stick once.”
There are obstacles Chase the Chaos may have to overcome. In the San Felipe, he will be racing over a projected fast dirt track for the first time. His only run over a dirt track came in his career debut at Canterbury, though the surface was muddy due to overnight rain. He ended up running second that day. Chase the Chaos also draws the rail in a large ,11-horse field in the San Felipe; with his off-the-pace style, he will receive dirt kickback, something he does not encounter over Golden Gate’s Tapeta surface. Moger is not concerned.
“When he ran in the mud at Canterbury, he split horses and barreled right through it,” said Moger. “Things don’t really faze him. I don’t think the track will be a problem for him. It’s hard to win from too far off the lead at Santa Anita, but there’s a large field in this race, so I’m imaging he’ll get a pace to run at.”
5-year-old horse Tarantino faces a salty group of second level foes going a mile and an eighth on the turf in Race 7 on the Santa Anita Saturday card. A multiple Grade 3 placed router, Tarantino was last seen running poorly at this condition in a Tapeta event on January 14. Armando Ayuso, the regular rider for Chase the Chaos, also picks up the mount on Tarantino.
“He was training so well before the race,” said Moger. “He wasn’t supposed to run that bad. He’s better than that, for sure. I don’t know if he didn’t like the synthetic…I don’t know what happened. He’s training really well.”
The last race of the day, Race 12, is the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap for 4-year-olds and up at one mile and a quarter on dirt. Moger tightens the girth of Stilleto Boy, who comes off a third-place finish in the $3,000,000 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park. Among the 10 competitors that the son of Shackleford faces is Defunded, a Bob Baffert trainee who placed second in the Pegasus, 2022 Big Cap runner up finisher Warrant, Grade I winner Proxy, and recent San Pasqual Stakes winner Newgrange.
“He’s just a good horse,” said Moger of Stilleto Boy. “He does everything you ask of him.”
In the Pegasus, Stilleto Boy was gunned out of the gate by jockey Mike Smith. He set the pace before relinquishing the lead to race winner Art Collector and missing second to Defunded. Stilleto Boy breaks from post four and will be ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux.
“Going a mile and a quarter, sometimes horses aren’t sent as hard out of the gate,” said Moger. “There’s a quarter mile to the first turn in this race. We had to get out of the gate and get over at Gulfstream because it’s a quick run to the first turn there. We should be forwardly placed. I’d be happy to be on the lead but if someone wants to go real fast, we can stalk…that would be fine too. He always tries hard.”
If Moger Jr. were to win any of these races, we all know one thing. The Paddock Pub on Level 1 will be full of cheers and jubilation.
VINTAGE SWITCHES TRAINERS, FACES WINNERS IN FRIDAY FEATURE
Shortly after a gate to wire, two turn maiden special weight win on February 3, 3-year-old filly Vintage was moved to the barn of trainer O.J Jauregui by co-owners Jason Hall and Stephen Baker. Vintage, who has always been well regarded by her connections, went off as the favorite in her maiden victory.
“We’re still learning about her,” said Jauregui. “She’s had a couple works for us. She’s a good-looking filly and she travels well.”
Vintage faces proven winners on Friday afternoon in the signature race of the day, a first level allowance for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on the Tapeta. This will be Vintage’s second career route try. Besides the maiden win, her only other lifetime start came in a sprint race on January 7 when finishing in midfield after a tardy break from the gate.
“I think she can rate if she needs to,” said Jauregui when asked about his new filly’s versatility. “She doesn’t overdo herself out there. She’s a pretty relaxed filly. I think you can pretty much do what you want with her, and she’ll do it.”
Vintage faces five other rivals in Friday’s seventh race. The likely post time favorite will be the Keith Desormeaux trained Naughty Lottie, dropping out of stakes company. The filly by Midnight Lute was last seen finishing two lengths behind the winner in the Sweet Life Stakes on turf at Santa Anita. Her lone career win came in a dirt sprint at Louisiana Downs. That day, she won by 15 lengths for trainer Keith Desormeaux, who still conditions.
Bourbon Glaze was a decisive claiming winner at the $12,500 level. After stalking a moderate pace, the daughter of Union Rags cruised to the lead and lengthened stride nicely, hitting the wire four lengths clear of the runner up finisher. She makes her first start off a claim for trainer Blaine Wright.
Smiling Lady is the only entrant in this field who has won at this level once before. On December 4, the Andy Mathis conditioned racer opened a big lead on the backstretch and kept rolling, finishing the race over four lengths ahead of the second-place finisher. She freshened up two and a half months for her next start, a race at this same condition in which she went to the lead early, set a wicked fast pace, and faded to the back of the pack in the final quarter mile. She looks to rebound and duplicate her December effort.
Like Vintage, Black Zabat has only routed once. Unlike the aforementioned runner, Black Zabat has not won at a two-turn distance. After maiden claiming and starter allowance wins sprinting, Black Zabat attempted to stalk the pace in her first career route try but had had enough by the far turn run. She seeks to improve with a route race under her belt.
Rounding out the field is the stretch-out sprinter Bob’s Vai, who won a starter allowance on January 29 and goes “long” for the first time on Friday for trainer Faith Taylor.
8 races make up the Friday program at Golden Gate. First post on Friday is 1:15 PM PT.
Race 7 on Friday (First level allowance for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on the Tapeta)
#1 Bourbon Glaze (Jockey William Antongeorgi III…Trainer Blaine Wright…morning line odds of 6-1)
#2 Smiling Lady (Armando Ayuso…Andy Mathis…7-2)
#3 Bob’s Vai (Adrian Escobedo…Faith Taylor…8-1)
#4 Vintage (Evin Roman…O.J. Jauregui…9-2)
#5 Black Zabat (Alexander Chavez…Manny Badilla…8-1)
#6 Naughty Lottie (Assael Espinoza…Keith Desormeaux…6-5)
YARMARIE CORREA NEWEST ADDITION TO THE JOCKEY COLONY
Fresh from Mahoning Valley Racecourse in Youngstown, Ohio, young Yarmarie Correa rode Zaragoza to a third-place finish in Race 4 on Saturday, her first ever ride at Golden Gate Fields. Correa is represented by Brent Harmon, who also hustles book for Alexander Chavez, currently third in the jockey standings. Correa is here to stay, says Harmon.
“It’s going to take some time,” said Harmon. “There are a lot of riders here, so there are a lot of people with established business. She’s working horses-she had eight workers on Sunday. That’s a good thing. I just need to get her out there and get her exposed to everybody. Plenty of trainers have shown interest just watching her videos.”
Correa is best known for being an Eclipse Awards finalist for top apprentice jockey in 2020. That year, she won the most races out of any apprentice rider in the country with 117 trips to the winner’s circle. She also won the riding title at Thistledown that same season. Her career stats read 241 lifetime wins with 242 second place finishes and 223 third place rides. Career earnings list $4,285,782.
“I like her attitude and her confidence,” said Harmon. “She’s very humble. She’s grateful to be in California. But she carries a lot of confidence. She doesn’t seem to be intimidated by anybody or anything. That’s what got my attention right out of the gate. When I met [Alexander] Chavez, he carried the same type of confidence.
She can ride,” concluded Harmon. “Her riding ability doesn’t concern me at all. She looks good on a horse and she’s strong. It’s just about getting her on good horses.”
A TRIO WHO EXITS EL CAMINO REAL DERBY RETURN IN ALLOWANCE ON SATURDAY
Three runners who finished off the board in the El Camino Real Derby last month return on Saturday in the featured eighth race of the day, a first level allowance for 3-year-olds at one mile on the Tapeta. Facing easier company, each runner hopes to rebound off their efforts in the El Camino Real Derby.
Happy Does had won a pair of allowance races before a last place finish in the El Camino Real Derby. Two starts ago, he finished ahead of Mother’s Prayer and Sea Dog, both who are also entered in this Saturday’s eighth race. His best race, like the aforementioned first place finish, can win on Saturday.
In Honor of Autism was a no-show in the El Camino Real. One can be forgiving. He was making his first start going farther than 6 furlongs that day and, all things considered, was outclassed at off odds of 32-1. He may be able to improve in his second start going “long” and, like the others coming out of the El Camino Real, receives class relief against this easier group. Before the El Camino Real Derby, In Honor of Autism was a multiple starter allowance winner, indicating he has a chance to be legitimately competitive at the first level allowance condition.
Sea Dog ran better than the other two aforementioned foes in the El Camino Real, only finishing four lengths behind race winner Chase the Chaos. The O.J. Jauregui trainee earned a career high Beyer speed figure (76) for his El Camino Real Derby effort and continues to improve with race experience.
Others set to tackle the El Camino Real Derby three include Mother’s Prayer, who freshens up after a second place finish behind Happy Does on January 21. Two starts ago, the Steve Specht trainee finished ahead of O B’s in a January 6 starter allowance race. O B’s, sent off as the odds on 2-5 favorite that day, had just run third behind multiple stakes winner Passarando and eventual El Camino Real Derby winner Chase the Chaos in the Gold Rush Stakes. He “bounced” out of the Gold Rush effort, finishing third well behind Mother’s Prayer. He gets a couple months off and returns to the races with a steady series of morning drills on the worktab.
Maiden winners De La Luna and Trinidad complete the field. The former broke his maiden in a two-turn event on January 21. 19 days earlier, the son of Tiznow lost to Trinidad in a January 2 maiden special weight. Trinidad has run once since the maiden breaker: an off the board finish sprinting. He gets back to the route game, something he has done his best work at, on Saturday.
Live racing on Saturday begins at 1:15 PM. 9 races comprise the overnight.
Race 7 on Friday (First level allowance for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on the Tapeta)
#1 De La Luna (Jockey Kevin Radke…Trainer Quinn Howey…morning line odds of 7-2 )
#2 Trinidad (Silvio Amador…Roger Hanson…10-1)
#3 Mother’s Prayer (Frank Alvarado…Steve Specht…5-2)
#4 Happy Does (Santos Rivera…Felix Rondan …9-2)
#5 In Honor of Autism (Evin Roman…Jonathan Wong…5-1)
#6 Sea Dog (Francisco Monroy…O.J. Jauregui…6-1)
#7 O B’s (Irving Orozco…Bill McLean…6-1)
Race 1: Many Markets (New Owner/Trainer Dan Franko)
Race 7: American Great (New trainer Monty Meier…New owner Michael Bean)
Race 8: C’Mon Man (Jonathan Wong…Madden Racing)
Race 1: Luck Is Golden (Monty Meier…Brown Cattle Co. and William Branch)
Race 1: Grigoro (Jonathan Wong…Madden Racing)
Race 1: Rose Princess (Ellen Jackson…Alberto Ruvalcaba)
Race 3: Seattle Bold (Steve Sherman…Jimmy Rex Robinson Family Trust, Randy Exelby, Tom Mayo, and Steve Sherman)
Race 4: Miss Arrowhead (Dan Franko…Carl Gregoire)
Race 5: Kitty’s Candy (O.J. Jauregui…Danny Eplin)
Race 5: Miracle in Motion (Blaine Wright…Tracy and Paula Henline)
Race 5: Tiger Queen (Steve Sherman…Zvika Akin and Sherman)
FINISH LINES: 9 races complete our racing week on Sunday. First post is 12:45 PM…The marquee race of the day on Sunday is Race 8, a first level allowance for fillies and mares at 5.5 furlongs…Assael Espinoza continues to lead the way in the jockey standings while Jonathan Wong is also ahead in the trainer standings…Just over $41,000 is carried over into the Golden Pick Six Jackpot wager into Friday. The Rolling Super High Five wager also has a carryover of $1,883.