Bound for the winner’s circle after Juniper Pass’s hard-fought victory in Sunday’s $150,000 San Luis Rey Stakes, owner Robert Irvin was understandably full of enthusiasm.
“I think I’m going to hug Rafael,” he said of winning jockey Rafael Bejarano.
Reminded that Bejarano was not really embraceable after guiding Juniper Pass to a half-length win on a wet-fast track on a rainy day in the San Luis Rey Stakes, Irvin settled for a handshake with the jockey and the knowledge that Juniper Pass is a proven stayer.
The Grade 3 San Luis Rey Stakes was scheduled for turf, and transferred to the main track because of rain on Sunday, but the switch did the 4-year-old colt no harm. Juniper Pass stalked pacesetter Dahoud to early stretch and won the race over 1 1/2 miles by a half-length.