The 2-year-old Colt will be In the Barn of Doug O’Neill
ARCADIA, Calif.—In a highly anticipated 2-year-old maiden special weight at 4 ½ furlongs, the Doug O’Neill-trained Tahoma did not disappoint as 2018 Triple Crown champion Justify’s first foal to win and first U.S. starter, meeting expectations as the 4-5 favorite, winning by two lengths under Juan Hernandez in 53.89.
In an eight-horse field totally comprised of first-time starters, Tahoma, a chestnut colt who bears a sharp resemblance to his sire, broke sharply and was caught four-deep around the turn while a half length off early leader Fordy G at the three furlong marker, took command turning for home and ran like a colt who will appreciate more ground.
“We had high expectations and we feel this colt has a lot of upside,” said Leandro Mora, O’Neill’s primary assistant. “We train these babies pretty much like Brian Mayberry used to when I worked for him 30 years ago. We do not over-train a horse for these type of races. This colt has a lot of ability and I feel really confident about his future. We’re proud to win with the very first starter for Justify, very proud.
“Dennis (Doug’s brother) bought this horse and he has the eye of an eagle. He provides us with so many nice horses. Doug is on his way back from Maryland, but he’s on his phone and he knows we won.”
The victory by Tahoma followed a fifth-place showing earlier Sunday at the Curragh in Ireland by Aspen Grove, who will carry the distinction as Justify’s first starter.
Out of a Rahy mare named Madera Dancer, who was winless in three Southern California starts, Tahoma was purchased by Dennis O’Neill for $160,000 as a Keeneland September Yearling.
Owned by West Coast Stables, LLC, Tahoma paid $3.80 to win and picked up purse money of $40,200.
Fractions on the race were 21.66 and 44.44.
Santa Anita Press Release
Photo by Benoit Photos