01/11/2013 3:18PM

Santa Anita: Chosen Miracle should control pace in San Gabriel

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ARCADIA, Calif. – The power of lone speed will be tested Sunday in the Grade 2 San Gabriel Stakes at Santa Anita, where Chosen Miracle should be loose on the lead.

“I don’t want to say what my strategy is right now,” trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said this week. No problem, it is obvious. The controlling speed in the mile and one-eighth turf race, Chosen Miracle has one good chance to win – by shaking loose.

Never mind the longer trip and tougher competition. Chosen Miracle, front-running allowance winner last out setting a fast pace, is sharp and improving. And if Hollendorfer believes the 5-year-old can stay nine furlongs in his 11th start, who will argue?

“Of course, [distance] might be a little bit of a challenge. We think he can do it,” the trainer said. Asked what inspires his confidence, Hollendorfer said with a laugh, “I’ve been doing this a long time.”

So have two veteran San Gabriel starters with established turf-route credentials. Slim Shadey is a 24-start pro; his 3-for-6 record at Santa Anita includes two graded stakes. Jeranimo is a 7-year-old millionaire that has accomplished more – with five graded stakes wins – than any in the field.

Seven older horses entered the $150,000 San Gabriel including outsiders Juniper Pass, Temple’s Door, Fast Track, and Tale of a Champion. Slim Shadey, likely to be positioned second behind the speed, is the most likely winner under Garrett Gomez. Chosen Miracle and jockey Joe Talamo are the ones to catch.

Chosen Miracle won two of six sprints for Hollendorfer before he rolled the dice and entered him in a 1 1/16-mile turf allowance Dec. 8 at Betfair Hollywood Park.

“If you have a horse with tactical speed, you have to try it,” Hollendorfer said. It opens up options, and after a pace-pressing 12th-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, he had nothing to lose.

Chosen Miracle and Talamo took charge, set fast fractions over a “good” turf course, and won by three-quarters. It was the fourth win from 10 starts for the son of Ghostzapper.

If distance is a challenge for Chosen Miracle, the question for Jeranimo is current form. A creditable sixth in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Mile, he followed with a flat fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Citation at Hollywood. Trainer Mike Pender resists negativity.

“I’ve heard the whispers that our millionaire is tailing off at the ripe age of 7,” he said. “I don’t believe a word of it.” According to Pender, Jeranimo does not act like a horse that is ready to call it a career.

“Some horses hide in the back of their stall for three or four days after they run,” he said. “They give little signs. I watch for that [with Jeranimo]. Instead, the day after he runs the tub is empty, he is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and wants to go back to the track.”

Jeranimo has been around the track 31 times, winning eight races including the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile last summer and four Grade 2 races – the Citation, Oak Tree Mile, San Gabriel, and Strub.

Pender recognizes that Jeranimo disappointed last out, but said he trained well since and expects an improved effort. “He’s made of iron; his legs are as good now as they were when he ran in the San Felipe [in 2009],” Pender said.

George Lemel More than 1 year ago
This is a race I was waiting for, but I was hoping for a full field! Slim Shady or Jeranimo will probably go favorite, but I've been waiting for Temple's Door to run on Santa Anita's turf for Mullins and here it is, with nice odds too!! Going to the windows on this one and hopefully make up for yesterdays loser I posted for the feature! G toood luck and let's get em!!
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Jeranimo is definitely a warrior. And Slim Shadey has developed into quite a warrior himself. Just looking at Slim Shadey, I wouldn't have guessed he would have been able to hold together through a very, very demanding 2012 schedule. But the somewhat skinny nearly black runner appears to have made it into 2013 near his peak. Shadey started his 12' campaign with an allowance win last Jan then won the gr.2 San Marcos. After a brutal beat at 12 furlongs in the San Luis Rey, Shadey made the first of two cross-country trips to run 2nd to Little Mike in the Churchill Turf Classic at 9 furlongs. Bck in Cali a month later, he ran 2nd to Acclamation at 10 furlongs in the Whittingham. Then, Shadey's connections bit off too much, wheeling back in another cross-country trip 3 weeks after the Whittingham in the UN Cap'. They compounded the UN debacle when they ran Shadey just 2 weeks later back in Cali against Acclamation in the Read. Way, way too ambitious. Somehow, Shadey didn't fall apart after all this, and he was able to make it back to the track to win the gr.2 John Henry Turf Championship and make a start in the BC Turf. The BC Turf, and the Hollywood Turf Cup, his last 2 starts, were at 12 furlongs, and that simply is too far for Shadey. Shadey's wheelhouse is 9-10 furlongs. At that distance, he might prove himself a grade 1 runner. He gets 9 furlongs on Sunday in the San Gabriel, and he gets a fairly soft grade 2 field. He is way the horse to beat. Hopefully, his connections are a little more judicious this year with his schedule.