Ed Moger Jr. has been a trainer for over four decades and his horses have won many races, but none greater than the Grade 1 $500,000 Santa Anita Handicap on Saturday. Quiet boy the favorite expired Well-founded and held off a charging proxy to win by a neck.
“Probably of all the races in California, this one is a bigger race than the Pacific Classic (in Del Mar),” said Moger. “It’s like California’s Kentucky Derby.”
The horse was bought by Moger’s brother Steve for $420,000. Steve didn’t ask his brother for advice when he made the purchase.
“I would have told him it was too much,” said Moger. “It turns out to be a good move. We only won two races with him, but we had a blast. It feels like we won 100 races.”
Stilleto Boy paid $29.80 to win. Proxy was followed by Defunded, Hopper, There Goes Harvard, Tisquantum, Newgrange, Warrant and Heywoods Beach.
Moger thinks the 5-year-old’s next race could be the Oaklawn Handicap or possibly the Metropolitan Mile.
The win was also partial redemption for Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, who was allowed to officiate this meeting in Santa Anita after a series of incidents that earned him a suspension and suspension from the California Horse Racing Board. He has admitted to having a problem with alcohol throughout his career.
“For me, after my life of off-track debacles, it shows that I’ve come full circle and we can put that to bed and I can continue with my career,” said Desormeaux. “It’s up to me to stay clean.”
It was Desormeaux’s third win at the Big ‘Cap, with previous wins in 2002 (Milwaukee Brew) and 1992 (Best Pal).
In other graded stakes races, Gold Phoenix ($23.60) made his way among the horses and beat Du Jour to win the Grade 1 $500,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile on the turf by a neck. Winning trainer Phil D’Amato gave high praise to jockey Kazushi Kimura, who is new to the Santa Anita jockey colony.
“This kid has now ridden two horses for me and both win,” D’Amato said of Kimura, 23. He saved every inch of ground, waited, split horses and did everything I told him to. … I can’t say enough about the amazing ride.
Quattroelle ($8.60) won the Grade 2 $200,000 Buena Vista Stakes for older fillies and mares, one mile on the turf. The 5-year-old mare made a strong move deep in the stretch to win by half a length ahead of trainer Jeff Mullins and jockey Hector Barrios.