02/06/2014 1:51PM

Santa Anita: Jeranimo gets distance test in San Marcos Stakes


ARCADIA, Calif. – During his 39-race career, Jeranimo has won 11 races and earned $1,521,364. The 8-year-old horse has won eight stakes in Southern California at distances ranging from a mile to 1 1/8 miles.

Jeranimo has never raced over 1 1/4 miles on turf but will do so in Saturday’s $200,000 San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita. If the race were run over 1 1/8 miles, Jeranimo would be a solid favorite. He won the Grade 2 San Gabriel Stakes over that distance for the third time Jan. 4.

The distance of the Grade 2 San Marcos is more of an unknown, trainer Mike Pender said.

“A mile is too short,” he said. “A mile and an eighth is in his wheelhouse. I think he’s up to the challenge. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t like it.”

Owned by Robert LaPenta and B.J. Wright, Jeranimo is the senior member of the 14 horses entered in the San Marcos, the seventh of nine races on Saturday’s program. The San Marcos will be Jeranimo’s first start over 1 1/4 miles since a ninth-place finish in the Pacific Classic on Del Mar’s synthetic track last August.

Since the San Gabriel, Jeranimo has had one recorded workout – five furlongs on turf in 1:03.40 last Saturday. Pender insists that Jeranimo is ready.

“There is still life in those legs,” he said. “We get to condition him through his gallops.”

[Robert B. Lewis Stakes: Get PPs, watch Saturday's card live]

Jeranimo will be ridden by leading jockey Rafael Bejarano from post 6. Jeranimo is a closer and will need a clean trip in a crowded field to help his late kick. The horse he must catch is Slim Shadey, who has won the last two runnings of the San Marcos.

Slim Shadey was second to Jeranimo in the San Gabriel, leading to the final furlong. The 2013 San Marcos is Slim Shadey’s most recent win. The 6-year-old gelding is trained by Simon Callaghan, who expects Slim Shadey to be near the front.

“I wasn’t expecting as big of a field,” Callaghan said. “He’s better off when he is out there and using his stride. It’s a race he’s done well in before. It would be nice to win it for the third year in a row.”

The field includes four other stakes winners from 2013 – Bio Pro, Lucayan, Temeraine, and Vagabond Shoes.

Bio Pro, the winner of the minor Lure Stakes over a mile here in October, has never run in a race over 1 1/4 miles.

“He’s been running so well at a mile that I kept him at it,” trainer Howard Zucker said. “We’re hoping he likes the distance.”

Lucayan, who won the French 2000 Guineas in 2012, won his first stakes in the United States in the Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup over 1 1/2 miles on Dec. 14.

Vagabond Shoes, the winner of the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap last August, was held out of the Grade 2 Arcadia Stakes on Feb. 1 in favor of the San Marcos. Trainer John Sadler needs a quick pace to develop to help the late run of Vagabond Shoes.

“I could have run in the [Arcadia], but I think the mile and a quarter is good,” he said. “He doesn’t have to be too far back. If it’s slow, he can be up there.”

Sadler considers the race to have a solid field.

“Some divisions get stronger, and some look light,” he said. “This is a pretty good group.”