ARCADIA, CA – Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams homebred Ward ‘n Jerry patiently waited Saturday’s $100,000 San Luis Rey Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park.
Breaking from post 6 under Flavien Prat as the 9/5 second choice, Ward ‘n Jerry raced two-wide outside of Swamp Souffle early on. Up front, Go for a Ride led Ashleyluvssugar through fractions of :24.62, :49.21, 1:14.37, and 1:39.71 for the opening mile.
Ranging up to run just behind Ashleyluvssugar heading into the far turn, Ward ‘n Jerry quickly wrestled command from that foe shortly after he had taken the lead. Straightening for home with a 1 1/2-length advantage, Ward ‘n Jerry was kept to a drive through to the wire before crossing victorious.
The Mike Puype was 1 1/4 lengths clear in the end, completing the 1 1/2-mile marathon turf event in a final time of 2:28.67.
“I hadn’t been on him in a long time and Mike told me that he’s best at these long distances,” said Prat, who last rode Ward ‘n Jerry on June 16, 2016, in the horse’s turf debut (he finished fifth). “He was a little keen early, but he settled down fine, and as you saw, he had a good turn of foot through the stretch.”
Camino Del Paraiso was hot on the eventual winner’s heels off of the far turn but couldn’t make any headway in the stretch, settling for second. Oscar Dominguez, sent off as the even-money favorite, had to tightly split foes exiting the far turn before finishing third.
Swamp Souffle necked out French Getaway for fourth, while Ashleyluvssugar (winner of this race in 2015) and Go for a Ride completed the order of finish.
Ward ‘n Jerry’s win was his first against stakes foes and improved his overall record to 20-6-2-3. The California-bred 7-year-old gelded son of Lucky Pulpit had lost his graded stakes debut, last December’s 1 1/2-mile Hollywood Turf Cup (G2), by just a neck. That effort convinced Puype to aim for the San Luis Rey.
“If you look at his form, you can see that he’s done his best at long distances,” Puype said. “He had won at a mile and 1/4 and a mile and 3/8, and he ran a really good third going a mile and 1/2 last December. They came home pretty fast today. They put a couple of 24-second 1/4 (mile splits) together there, so this was a big effort.”
Ward ‘n Jerry returned $5.60 to win, $3.20 to place, and $2.60 to show. Camino Del Paraiso brought back $5.20 to place and $3 to show, while Oscar Dominguez paid $2.40 to show.