Old, Bent, but not Broken

Molly Jo Rosen

January 6th, 2014

“Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow: The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true.” -Alfred, Lord Tennyson

It is horse racing, it is easy to ring out the old, cast them aside and look forward to the new, in this case Kentucky Derby and Oaks contenders.  But the old is still strong and competitive, as witnessed by Jeranimo at Santa Anita on Saturday.

The 8-year-old horse by Congaree was running in the Grade 2 San Gabriel for the fourth consecutive year and seeking to win this race for the third time in his career.  The Michael Pender trainee trailed the field early, but once asked for run by jockey Rafael Bejarano, the defending champion angled outside and went by the field easily to win by 1 1/4 lengths.  He ran the mile and an eighth on the turf listed as firm in 1:46.

Sunday at Santa Anita, favored Ponchartrain got a perfect trip from Gary Stevens to win the Grade 2 Monrovia Stakes going down the hill at the about six and a half furlong distance. Pacesetting Kindle was three-quarters of a length behind in second. The Tom Proctor trainee ran the distance in 1:11.14 on the firm turf course.

At Aqueduct on Saturday, Noble Moon stamped himself as the Kentucky Derby contender with a two length victory in the Grade 2 Jerome Stakes. The Leah Gyarmati trainee took the lead entering the far turn and held off Classic Giacnroll for the victory.  Noble Moon earned 10 points for the Kentucky Derby point standings and will probably run next in the Withers Stakes on February 1, which is also worth 10 points to the winner.

On Friday, Todd Pletcher added another three year old to his long list of Derby possibilities as Commissioner outlasted Top Billing to win a mile and an eighth allowance at Gulfstream Park. The son of A.P. Indy is owned by WinStar Farm. Commissioner is a horse that wants a route of ground and has run at the mile and an eighth distance in his last two starts. But there are no mile and an eighth stakes races in Florida until the Florida Derby on March 29. Commissioner will probably have to cut back in distance for his next start unless he shipped to Golden Gate for the El Camino Real Derby on February 15.

Three year old fillies competed on both coasts with a small but contentious fields.  In the Grade 2 Santa Ynez at Santa Anita, Awesome Baby led every step of the way under Mike Smith to pull the upset at 5-1 over a field of four.  The longer shot of the uncoupled Bob Baffert runners ran the six in half furlongs in 1:16.62.

Sweet Whiskey saved ground and got through on the inside to overtake Milam and win the Grade 3 Old Hat versus a field of six at Gulfstream Park.  Her stable mate Co Cola was second, two and ¾ lengths behind her.  Todd Pletcher trains both fillies and the winner was ridden by Javier Castellano.  Sweet Whiskey ran the six furlongs in 1:10.63.

At Laurel, Gracer drew away in the stretch to win the Marshua Stakes against a field of five.  Tony Dutrow trained the winner and she was written to victory by Alex Cintron.  Gracer ran the six furlongs in 1:12.18 on a track listed as last.