Jockey Juan Hernandez captured two of the three turf stakes on opening day at Santa Anita. Racking up a four-win Monday overall, including the La Brea (G1), he turned a turf double in the American Oaks (G1) and San Gabriel (G2).
American Oaks (G1)
Rockingham Ranch and Talla Racing’s Rhea Moon extended her winning streak to three in the $303,000 American Oaks, while spearheading a terrific result for trainer Phil D’Amato. His barn had three-fourths of the superfecta, as Rhea Moon denied stablemate School Dance, and the other D’Amato runner, Oakhurst, missed third by a head at 45-1.
Bettors fancied a pair of shippers, dispatching the Chad Brown-trained Salimah as the 2.70-1 favorite and Brendan Walsh’s new recruit Mise en Scene at 4.30-1. Rhea Moon, the best-backed of the home team, left the gate as the 6.80-1 third choice. The Irish import was attempting 1 1/4 miles for the first time, as well as taking a class hike, but passed both tests.
Salimah unexpectedly went to the early lead and carved out fractions of :23.88, :48.31, 1:12.45, and 1:36.97. School Dance, who kept tabs in second, was accordingly on the premises to capitalize when the favorite faltered down the lane. Just when the 11.70-1 shot looked to have made the winning move, along came her stablemate.
Rhea Moon had been patiently handled by Hernandez, her regular rider through her ascent, from a June 4 maiden win to her Oct. 29 Autumn Miss (G3) trophy. Angling out for room, she quickened in the final furlong to head School Dance in 2:00.75 and returned $15.60.
School Dance finished three-quarters of a length ahead of Sparkle Blue, who edged Oakhurst and Skims for third. But School Dance had to survive an objection to keep her runner-up status. Skims’s jockey, John Velazquez, claimed foul against Ramon Vazquez, alleging interference caused by School Dance shifting out across her path. The stewards ruled that School Dance’s waywardness did not cost Skims a better placing, and thereby let the result stand.
Pizza Bianca closed from last to grab sixth. Salimah folded to seventh, followed by Duvet Day; Lady Clementine; Mise en Scene, who might have over-raced on the outside in a disappointing result; and Bellstreet Bridie, regressing dramatically off her successful American premiere in the Red Carpet (G3).
Rhea Moon enhanced her resume to 9-4-3-2, $371,830. Originally trained in Ireland by Ken Condon, the Starspangledbanner filly placed in both juvenile starts at Dundalk and the Curragh. She resurfaced stateside this season and continued her admirable consistency before developing the winning habit.
Bred by Kevin J. Molloy in the Emerald Isle, Rhea Moon was produced by the Fastnet Rock mare Callisto Star. Her second dam is a full sister to multiple Group 3-winning stayer Eye of the Storm, by Galileo.
San Gabriel (G2)
After knocking on the door in graded stakes, Dicey Mo Chara finally barged through to victory in the $201,000 San Gabriel. The win comes at a poignant time for his Red Baron’s Barn and Rancho Temescal connections, about a month following the passing of patriarch Jed Cohen.
Dicey Mo Chara was coming off a fourth to Prince Abama in the Nov. 25 Hollywood Turf Cup (G2), where he was foiled by the lack of pace in the 1 1/2-mile affair. Two back in the John Henry Turf Championship (G2), he was a half-length runner-up to Masteroffoxhounds. Dicey Mo Chara turned the tables on both Monday, and capped an all-Leonard Powell exacta with stablemate Flashiest.
The 6-5 favorite Masteroffoxhounds was hampered from the start, slightly bobbling out of the gate and getting pinballed. Dicey Mo Chara had a troubled beginning as well, but the closer had a better time shrugging it off. The free-wheeling Masteroffoxhounds, on the other hand, was in the unenviable spot of dragging his way forward later than preferable.
Rip City had his head in front through the opening quarter in :24.58. But Bob and Jackie, who caused a chain reaction when veering in at the break, wrested control by the half in :48.67. Masteroffoxhounds then extricated himself to engage Bob and Jackie, and the favorite had a narrow advantage passing six furlongs in 1:11.15. While Masteroffoxhounds was still grinding down the lane, the longer he went without establishing separation, the more vulnerable he appeared.
Dicey Mo Chara pounced in a well-timed bid. Under new rider Hernandez, the 3.80-1 chance worked out a ground-saving trip, tipped out, and mowed down the leaders. The 21.90-1 Flashiest gained from further back, but Dicey Mo Chara had gotten the decisive jump. He had a half-length to spare in a final time of 1:47.78 for 1 1/8 miles.
A further length astern in third was Masteroffoxhounds, with D’Amato stablemate Prince Abama a bit one-paced, albeit covered up, in fourth. Bob and Jackie tired to fifth, trailed by Go On, who lost his chance with a terrible stumble out of the gate, and Rip City.
Dicey Mo Chara has bankrolled $430,276 from his 17-4-4-3 line, including four stakes placings. The four-year-old gelding came close in the San Luis Rey (G3), All American S., and Del Mar H. (G2) prior to the John Henry.
Bred by Worksop Manor Stud in Great Britain, Dicey Mo Chara is by Adaay and out of the Lion Cavern mare Leonica, from the family of Group-winning highweights Lope Y Fernandez and Dark Vision. Further back on the page, one finds millionaire Soviet Line.
Santa Anita Mathis Mile (G2)
One More Bid was venturing outside maiden company for the first time in the $200,500 Santa Anita Mathis Mile (G2), and accordingly went off as the 16.50-1 longest shot on the board. But the California Chrome gelding was all heart in the stretch to fend off 1.70-1 favorite Balnikhov by a nose.
Co-owned by trainer Ryan Hanson with California Racing Partners and Ciaglia Racing, One More Bid tracked pacesetting Sumter through splits of :23.31, :46.50, and 1:10.16. Sumter was still in front in midstretch, as Balnikhov rolled into contention on the outside. Yet One More Bid was the one who kept finding between foes for Ramon Vazquez. Although Balnikhov bore down, One More Bid responded to the challenge. Taking over from the weakening Sumter, the chestnut bravely reached for the wire in 1:33.67.
Sumter faded to third, another 1 1/4 lengths back. I’m a Gambler, who appeared to be traveling well in his stateside bow, failed to pick up in fourth. Next came Handy Dandy and the tailed-off Time to Party, after the scratch of Agatino.
One More Bid rewarded his backers with a $35 win mutuel. Having broken his maiden at last on Nov. 19, he improved his scorecard here to 9-2-4-1, $234,640. One More Bid needed eight tries to post that first win, but to keep that stat in context, he was spending most of his time on dirt. He’d raced only twice on turf, and just missed in his first route on the grass, before overcoming trouble to get up at Del Mar. Thus his current turf mark, 4-2-2-0, is a fairer reflection of his ability.
Bred by Tolo Thoroughbreds in Kentucky, One More Bid sold for $55,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale at Santa Anita. His dam, the Scat Daddy mare Never Grow Old, is a daughter of Chilean classic heroine and U.S. Grade 1 winner Noches de Rosa.