September 26, 2022

Ebeko gets up in Zuma Beach; Madone still perfect in Surfer Girl

Madone and jockey Flavien Prat outleg Tetragonal to win the Surfer Girl Stakes © BENOIT PHOTO

Del Mar’s juvenile turf stakes produced the winners of both of Sunday’s corresponding stakes at Santa Anita, but not in the same way. Madone reiterated her status by doubling up in the $102,000 Surfer Girl Stakes, while the boys had more of a shake-up with Ebeko improving to take the $101,000 Zuma Beach Stakes in a photo. Both are now on course for Breeders’ Cup “Future Stars Friday” at Keeneland.

Zuma Beach

The Peter Miller-trained Ebeko was a promising second in his first U.S. start in the Sept. 7 Del Mar Juvenile Turf, where he closed after lagging in last early from post 10. The Irish import was savvier for that experience, and better drawn in post 5 in a smaller field.

With Ricardo Gonzalez back aboard, the 3.40-1 third choice raced within a couple of lengths of pacesetter Ingest through fractions of :23.66, :48.42, and 1:13.10. Ebeko made his move in tandem with fellow stalkers Cotopaxi and Tarantino in the stretch. Cotopaxi made the most of his inside position relative to the other two to grab a narrow lead, but Tarantino began to get the upper hand in between them.

Then Ebeko found his best stride on the outside to nip Tarantino on the line, finishing the mile in 1:36.55. Cotopaxi was another three-quarters of a length back in third, followed by Caisson; Del Mar Juvenile Turf winner Big Fish, the 2.20-1 favorite who made little impact from last; Ingest; and Dennis Celery.

“This is a very nice colt,” Gonzalez summed up. “He’s a little short, but man, he gives you his all. The first time (in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf), we were in the 10-hole, so we just kind of made one run and he had just come from Europe. It’s different now that he’s been here. He puts himself in the race, made a good run and finished really strong.

“I had a pretty good feeling I got (the photo).”

“I thought Ricky rode an incredible race,” Miller said. “We knew this horse was doing well and Ricky saw that the pace was pretty slow, so he had him closer today.

“To be honest, there’s no doubt in my mind that he could’ve won much easier today if we didn’t have the new (whip) rules…I’m just being honest….

“We’re definitely going to look at the Breeders’ Cup (Juvenile Turf [G1]) with this horse. He deserves it and we’re looking forward to going.”

Owned by Altamira Racing Stable, CYBT, Marc Lantzman, and Michael Nentwig, Ebeko has earned $106,378 from a record of 5-2-2-0. The bay was on an upward curve for original trainer Paddy Twomey in Ireland. A distant second in a Leopardstown maiden to Cadillac, eventual winner of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” KPMG Champions Juvenile (G2), Ebeko scored next time out over State of Rest, who later placed third in a terrific Champagne (G2).

The first stakes winner for freshman sire Awtaad (by Cape Cross), Ebeko is out of the Sir Percy mare Allegrezza from the fine Juddmonte family of Distant Music, African Rose, and Calyx. He was bred by Roundhill Stud and J. S. Investments and RNA’d for 20,000 guineas as a Tattersalls October yearling.

Surfer Girl

Kaleem Shah’s Madone clocked a much faster 1:34.83 in the Surfer Girl, thanks to a much faster early pace. The 11-10 favorite after her victory in the Sept. 6 Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf, the Simon Callaghan pupil bided her time well off 55-1 longshot Reign of Fire’s splits of :22.30 and :45.91.

But Madone’s rider, Flavien Prat, sensed the tempo slackening at the 6-furlong mark in 1:10.61, when Maxim Strider took over. Thus Prat gave the favorite her cue, and Madone commenced a circling move widest of all on the far turn. The circumnavigation did not diminish her usual punch, as Madone asserted in midstretch.

The 25-1 Tetragonal followed her into the lane and emerged as her main danger. Only seventh in the Del Juvenile Fillies Turf, Tetragonal had learned plenty from that stateside debut, like fellow Irish-bred Ebeko, and she gained relentlessly. Madone appeared to have her covered, though, and still had a neck advantage at the wire.

The top two were 3 1/2 lengths clear of the rest. Pizzazz nipped Closing Remarks and Canoodling in the three-way tussle for third. Next came Maxim Strider, Consternation, Nimbostratus, and the tailed-off Reign of Fire.

“I liked where we were after the first quarter,” Prat recapped of his third of four wins on the card. “It seemed like they were going fast enough up front.  The fractions don’t say it, but down the backside, it seemed like they slowed it down a little so I moved and I think I moved a little too soon.  When she makes the lead, she pulls herself up a little. In all of her races, she doesn’t win by much, but she’s got a lot of talent.”

“They went fast, which we thought could happen,” Callaghan said. “so Flavien just let her settle back early and let her get comfortable. He made a big move with her and thankfully she had enough to hold off the Slam Dunk (Racing) filly that was running at us.”

Madone is now 3-for-3, all at a grassy mile, with $141,300 in earnings. The daughter of Australian star Vancouver, the 2015 Golden Slipper (G1) hero, broke her maiden over the same Del Mar course and distance as her stakes debut.

“She is professional,” Callaghan added. “She has really grown up a lot.  She took a little bit of time to come around but she’s really developing into a real professional.

“I think Breeders’ Cup (Juvenile Fillies Turf [G1]) is the plan now.”

Bred by Glendalough in Kentucky, Madone was produced by the Cherokee Run mare Indian Love Call, from the family of Gold Fever and Boisterous. The dark bay initially sold for $70,000 as a Keeneland November weanling, brought $50,000 as a September yearling at the same venue, but commanded $125,000 from her current owner at OBS in March.

“In Italian, Madone means beautiful woman,” Shah explained. “She’s small, but the talent is there.”