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Is Jeranimo a Deserving Eddie Read Favorite?

Oddsmaker Russ Hudak had no easy task in setting the morning line for Saturday’s $300,000 Eddie Read Handicap, the first of seven Grade I events of the meeting. Especially when it came to designating the favorite.

There were brand new or U.S.-seasoned European imports with grass experience in Barocci, So Fast, Lucayan and Vagabond Shoes. Comebacking speedy blueblood Fed Biz. Or veteran top-level stakes performers Slim Shadey and Jeranimo.

Hudak went with 7-year-old Jeranimo, a winner of nine races from 34 starts and over $1.2 million.

Good choice, said Mike Pender, who has trained Jeranimo through the son of Congaree’s five-year career.

“I’m not in the least surprised and I think he’s a very deserving favorite,” Pender said Friday morning. “He’s a Grade I and Grade II stakes winner and he has an electrifying turn of foot that, when he’s on, makes him almost unbeatable.

“I think it speaks to his general career record. He’s been in training for almost five years without a break and does not show any signs of wear and tear.”

It’s unusual for a horse of Jeranimo’s accomplishment to be still racing and not retired to the breeding shed. That eventuality may be in Jeranimo’s future, but until the day comes, Pender and his stable staff intend to enjoy the ride.

“He’s a big stable favorite. The staff, and other people, will walk by and holler ‘Jeranimo’,” Pender said. “The atmosphere changes when we bring him out for works or even his afternoon walks. The other horses know when the alpha male is out and they pay attention. He’s a good role model for the younger horses we have.”

Jeranimo won the Grade II San Gabriel Handicap on January 13 at Santa Anita to open his 2013 campaign. Since then he has finished seventh in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, one race before the Kentucky Derby on May 4, and fourth to Obviously as the defending champion in the Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park on June 29.

Pender opted for the Del Mar Mile for Jeranimo last year and finished third behind Obviously and Mr. Commons. There’s reasoning behind the change to the Read in 2013.

“Throughout his career we’ve kind of played it race-to-race and followed his lead,” Pender said. “Since he’s a little older now, we think the extra eighth of a mile of the Eddie Read makes it better for him.”



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How well Jeranimo does really depends on which Slim Shadey shows up to race.

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