Mike Pender has a lot to look forward to these days. On his way to
Breeders’ Cup as a trainer with Oak Tree Mile winner Jeranimo, the
45-year-old conditioner also has Oak Tree Derby winner Ultimate Eagle
targeting the Hollywood Derby at 1 ¼ miles on turf on Nov. 27, with
recent claim Dance With Gable under consideration for the California Cup
Sprint on Oct. 29.
Jeranimo worked a half-mile on Santa Anita’s main track Saturday
in :47 flat, while Dance With Gable went five furlongs in :59 flat.
“Jeramino came out of his race in stellar shape and just breezed a
nice little :46 and one
this morning,” Pender said. “He’s given us every indication barring
anything unforeseen to get on that plane to Kentucky.” That would be for
the BC Mile on the grass and a meeting with the likes of world-class
winners Goldikova and Gio Ponti.
“Ultimate Eagle, that was the toughest race of his career so
far,” Pender said of the half-length victory at 34-1 over French invader
Venomous. “His speed figures shot up a couple digits from what he used
to be running, and we’re very much looking forward to the opportunity in
the Hollywood Derby.
“They’re both pretty versatile, although I think Jeranimo has
more of a stalking gear than Ultimate Eagle does,” Pender said.
“Ultimate Eagle, if he had his way, he would prefer to probably be on
the front and say come and catch me. I can’t wait to run him on the
dirt. I don’t think Jeranimo is as effective on dirt.
“The Mile has the best horses in the world. I might be a little
bit biased of course, but of all the races at the Breeders’ Cup, pound
for pound I think the majority of people are looking forward to that
race. It does have the three-time defending champ Goldikova.”
Pender claimed Dance With Gable for $40,000 from his last race, a
winning effort at Fairplex Park. The 7-year-old Dance Floor gelding is a
veritable win machine with 15 victories, which likely accounts for his
being claimed five times in his 37-race career.
“(Mike) Machowsky did a super job with him when he took him off
of (Jerry) Hollendorfer, and (Bill) Morey got him started up at Golden
Gate,” Pender said. “This horse has been well-traveled up and down the
California coast line. Ted West just had him in the best form of his
life here at the ripe age of seven years old.
“He’s a 15-time winner. We could have got him for 32 ($32,000)
down at Del Mar (Sept. 2). He proved to me that day he could run on just
about any surface, synthetic, dirt, turf; doesn’t matter with him, and
he’s sound as a dollar.”