JERANIMO DENIES PROUDINSKY ANOTHER SAN GABRIEL STAKES WIN

ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 27, 2010) – Santa Anita’s Grade II, $150,000 San Gabriel Stakes had Proudinsky’s name written all over it, but Jeranimo!, the Proudinsky consolidation was blunted in Monday’s 64th running.

Victorious in the previous two runnings of the San Gabriel after a second the year before, Proudinsky took charge in midstretch of the mile-and-one-eighth turf event on Monday after putting away 7-10 favorite The Usual Q. T.

But while the German-bred Proudinsky was rallying along the rail under jockey Patrick Valenzuela before drifting out slightly, Jeranimo stormed home just inside of them with Rafael Bejarano at the controls.

The 4-1 upsetter drew clear of 9-2 Proudinsky by 2 ½ lengths at the wire. The Usual Q. T., with Victor Espinoza aboard, checked in third in the field of seven, 2 ½ lengths behind Proudinsky.

“When I saw the No. 1 (Proudinsky) getting room from the rail, I just stayed on the rail because I knew he was going to have a lot of horse at the end, too,” explained Bejarano. “When the No. 1 came out a bit in the stretch, I got the opportunity, and my horse came running. This horse is really improving.”

The final time over a turf course labeled “good” was 1:47.20. Jeranimo paid $10.20 to win. The 4-year-old son of Congaree, who took last February’s Grade II Strub Stakes at Santa Anita at odds of 11-1, gained his fifth victory in 15 starts for owner B. J. Wright. The winning purse of $90,000 brought his career earnings to $429,400.

“This horse is as good as he’s ever been,” said trainer Mike Pender, “and Rafael rode him great.” Pender wasn’t sure what might be next for Jeranimo, but said the ultimate target would be the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap over dirt on March 5.

“We ran in it last year (finishing fourth when racing on a synthetic surface),” Pender said of the Big ’Cap. “It would be great to go back there and seek a little revenge. I think this horse can run over anything. That’s how good he is.”

A supporting feature, the fillies division of the $100,000 California Breeders’ Champion Stakes, went to California Nectar in a mild upset while providing Valenzuela with his first stakes victory at Santa Anita in four years.

The 48-year-old rider, whose jockey’s license had been suspended in California for much of that time following a substance abuse violation, drove 4-1 shot California Nectar to 1 ½-length win over Warren’s Flyer while negotiating seven furlongs in 1:21.66.

It was another head back to Bathing Beauty, who bested pacesetting 4-5 favorite Teddy’s Promise by a neck in the field of seven California-bred 2-year-old fillies.

“It’s great,” Valenzuela exclaimed in the winner’s circle. “It’s like being back home at Santa Anita.” Added the winner of over 4,000 races: “There’s no greater feeling.”

The win was the second in six starts for the homebred daughter of Stormy Atlantic who is trained by Doug O’Neill for Suarez Racing Inc. She paid $10.80 to her supporters.

“She’s so talented,” O’Neill said. “She’s got a lot of upside. Mentally, she’s just getting better and better. She just had a beautiful trip and hopefully we can build off that and get her back going two turns.”

California Nectar, who had lost last October’s California Cup Juvenile Fillies by a nose to Swiss Wild Cat going 1 1/16 miles at Hollywood Park, earned $60,000 to boost her career total to $123,800.

After a dark day on Tuesday, Santa Anita will conduct a Wednesday through Sunday racing schedule the remainder of the week. First post for Wednesday’s eight-race card is at 12:30 p.m.

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