Stilleto Boy Takes Grade I, $500,000 Santa Anita Handicap By A Neck
__OVERLAYED AT 13-1, STILLETO BOY TAKES GRADE I, $500,000 SANTA ANITA HANDICAP BY A NECK AS DESORMEAUX & MOGER CELEBRATE __
86TH RUNNING OF THE BIG CAP PRESENTED BY YAAMAVA’ RESORT & CASINO
ARCADIA, Calif. (March 4, 2023)—With his first victory in Santa Anita’s signature race for older horses coming 31 years ago, 53-year-old Kent Desormeaux added a third Santa Anita Handicap win to his Hall of Fame resume on Saturday at The Great Race Place, as he coaxed 5-year-old gelding Stilleto Boy to a neck triumph over eastern invader Proxy.
Trained by Ed Moger and owned by his brother Steve, Stilleto Boy, a well beaten third in last year’s Big Cap, got a mile and one quarter in 2:01.96. The Grade I, $500,000 Santa Anita Handicap, presented by Yaamava’ Resort and Casino, was run for the 86th time today under increasingly cloudy skies and blustery conditions.
Breaking sharply from his number four post, Stilleto Boy relaxed into a nice rhythm while a close fourth at the rail in the run to the far turn, and with Desormeaux niggling to chestnut son of Shackleford while two from the rail leaving the three furlong pole, Stilleto Boy had There Goes Harvard to his inside and race favorite Defunded and Hopper in front of him by about two lengths turning for home.
From there, Stilleto Boy managed to overhaul Defunded, who had spurted clear by a length a sixteenth of a mile out and he held of a valiant late charge from midwestern shipper Proxy in a thriller.
Most recently third, beaten 5 ¾ lengths going a mile and one eighth in the Grade I Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park Jan. 28, Stilleto Boy returned to steady training at his Golden Gate Fields base, which Moger noted as an advantage today, given the fact training has been repeatedly interrupted at Santa Anita by protracted wet weather.
A huge overalay off of his 5-1 morning line, Stilleto Boy was off at 13-1 in a field of nine older horses and paid $29.80, $11.00 and $4.40.
With the Grade II Californian ranking as his lone graded stakes win coming into today, Stilleto broke through with his first Grade I triumph in his ninth try today and collected $300,000. Out of the Marquetry mare Rosie’s Ransom, Stilleto Boy now has career earnings of $1,711,675 from an overall race record of 21-4-4-8.
Trained by Mike Stidham and ridden by John Velazquez, Proxy, who shipped in from Fairgrounds in New Orleans, rallied wide from far back to get up for second by a half length over Defunded on the wire. Off at 3-1, Proxy paid $4.60 and $2.60.
The 6-5 favorite with Juan Hernandez riding for Bob Baffert, Defunded tried to make every pole a winning one, but he tired just a bit late to check in third, 1 ½ lengths in front of stablemate Hopper and paid $2.40 to show.
With Moger getting his first Big Cap win at age 67, Desormeaux, who has been beset with personal issues the past few years, added Stilleto Boy’s score today to previous Big Cap victories with Best Pal in 1992 and Milwaukee Brew in 2002.
Fractions on the Big Cap were 23.34, 46.16, 1:10.72 and 1:35.10.