Race of the Week 2017

Gomez Wins Two Stakes on 40th Birthday

On his 40th birthday Sunday, jockey Garrett Gomez was the beneficiary of both of Santa Anita’s stakes victories climaxed by Bauble Queen’s stirring win in the Grade II, $150,000 Robert J. Frankel Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf.

Gomez directed a furious stretch run on the extreme outside as Bauble Queen got the money by one-half length over Turning Top after the latter seemed to have gained a perfect opportunity to triumph. Earlier, the two-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey had directed Rumor to a 2 ¼-length win in the $79,500 Kalookan Queen Handicap. Both Gomez stakes winners were second choices in the wagering.

In the Frankel’s field of six fillies and mares, Turning Top appeared to gain a decided advantage by racing to an easy lead in a relatively paceless field. David Flores took the 6-year-old mare through a half in 49.27 and six furlongs in 1:12.78.

“David (Flores) being on such a slow lead was and wasn’t a concern of mine,” Gomez said after his filly crossed the wire in 1:48.22. “It wasn’t like he was free on the lead. They actually started quickening at about the four-and-one-half mark and started stretching us out a little bit. I never had to give up any ground though.

“I was sitting in behind them pretty easily the whole way. It was just a matter of if my filly would lengthen at all when we turned for home. As it worked out, it was in our best interest. My filly liked the mile-and-one-eighth for the first time and it worked out.”

Flores seemed dismayed after doing all he could do to deter the opposition. “What can I say?” he said. “I had a great trip, a great trip. We set a very soft pace, no excuses. We just got beat on the wire. The winner just came in the middle of the track and my filly never saw her. My filly is awesome to ride, and she made a good effort.”

Bauble Queen, thus, gained her first stakes victory and third win in eight starts for Class Racing Stable and trainer Eric J. Kruljac. The race was the first beyond 1 1/16 miles for the 4-year-old daughter of Arch. The winning purse of $90,000 raised her earnings to $218,257.

“I was concerned about the slow fractions,” said Kruljac, “but we have to be concerned about our filly and not let her get going too fast because she’s a little on the excitable side. I was thankful that Garrett was rating her and she was in position by herself behind four horses with the five-horse (Whisper Louise) in behind her. So I was reasonably comfortable even though the fractions were so slow.”

For her victory, Bauble Queen paid $8.80, $4.80 and $3.60. The mutuels on Turning Top were $5.60 and $4. Miss Mittagong, who finished one-half length behind Turning Top in third with Joel Rosario aboard, paid $3.80 to show. City to City, the 9-5 favorite, was never a factor while running fourth.

Rumor, who has never been far away at the line of finish, gained her fourth career victory to accompany three runner-up efforts when spurting clear in the stretch to take the Kalookan Queen Handicap. Under Gomez, the 4-year-old daughter of Indian Charlie covered the 6 ½ furlongs in 1:14.95. Saint Isabelle, the 9-5 favorite in a field of nine, nosed out Big Tiz for the place.

Rumor tracked early leader Excellent News, disposed of her entering the stretch, and won authoritatively for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella.

“When we turned for home, I asked her and she was there for me,” said Gomez. “Richard has taken his time and done a tremendous job with her.”

“She liked it here last year,” Mandella noted. “She’s been a good filly from the start and hopefully will continue on. The Santa Monica (Grade I at seven furlongs on Jan. 28) will be next for her.”

Owned by the partnership of Ramona Bass, Claiborne Farms and Dilschneider, Rumor boosted her career earnings to $201,718 with the winning purse of $47,700.

She paid $8, $4 and $2.80 for Sunday’s victory. Saint Isabelle, ridden by Bejarano, paid $3.40 and $2.40. The show return on Big Tiz, with Rosario aboard, was $3.20.

Mike Puype, who trains Saint Isabelle, was not displeased with the favorite’s showing. “She’s been away a while (May 1) and got a little tired,” he said. “I didn’t push to get her to this race. I couldn’t be happier with the way she ran.”



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