Mike Pender has designs on a repeat win in the Grade II San Gabriel
Stakes on Jan. 16 for versatile campaigner Jeranimo, who won last year’s
San Gabriel on grass and the Grade II Strub Stakes on synthetic.
The son of Congaree trained by Mike Pender for owner B.J. Wright
won the Grade II Citation Handicap at Hollywood Park in his most recent
start three weeks ago. Prior to that, he was seventh in the Breeders’
Cup Mile on Nov. 5. “Jeranimo came out of his last race like he does every other time,
which is perfect,” Pender said, alluding to the Citation. “He’s like the
little Energizer bunny. He’s stepping forward with eyes on a repeat in
the San Gabriel.”
Another versatile Pender stakes winner, Ultimate Eagle, is
scheduled to go from turf to dirt in his next start. A son of Mizzen
Mast also owned by Wright, Ultimate Eagle won the Grade II Oak Tree
Derby at Santa Anita last October and the Grade I Hollywood Derby last
out, both on grass.
“Ultimate Eagle is pointing for the (Grade II) San Fernando
(Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on dirt on Jan. 14),” Pender said. “He’ll run on
the dirt, which is a surface he seems to like more than the grass. He’s
four for seven lifetime. His three losses came on Hollywood’s
synthetic. Had we been running him on dirt, he’d be undefeated. That’s
how good he’s been.”
Pender has made the most of his limited chances in his
relatively brief career.
“I have about 20 head here for this meet,” he said, “and I don’t want
any more. “The ones I have are quality horses. Mr. Wright owns about 25
percent of them, about a quarter of the barn. The rest are for a variety
of different owners.
“I’ve only been training for five years and until recently,
haven’t had that many shots to run in stakes. For three years I was just
a claiming trainer. The last two years we’ve had a couple nice horses
and we’ve made the most of the opportunities.”