Planetario Romps in Marathon San Juan Capistrano

June 18, 2023

Brazilian-bred Planetario romps by 4 ½ lengths in the San Juan Capistrano as he gets the marathon 1 ¾ mile trip in 2:48.08 (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Santa Anita Press Box

ARCADIA, Calif.— Right at home at the marathon distance of a mile and three quarters on turf, Richard Mandella’s Brazilian-bred Planetario enjoyed a perfect ground-saving trip in Santa Anita’s Grade III, $100,000 San Juan Capistrano on Sunday, responding with an emphatic 4 ½ length win. Ridden by Hector Berrios, Planetario got the distance in 2:48.08.

Well in hand out of the gate, Berrios had Planetario a relaxed fourth, about nine lengths off pacesetter Opry as the field crossed under the wire the first time around. Saving every inch of ground to the far turn, Planetario advanced toward both Opry and Birth of Cool and with those two tiring, Berrios tipped three deep turning for home and Planetario burst clear in the middle of the course en route to his first stateside win. 

“We were just trying to keep him fit and build his wind up,” said Mandella who notched his second win in Santa Anita’s signature turf marathon, with his first coming with eventual Eclipse Champion Horse of the Year and Eclipse Champion grass horse, Kotashaan, in 1993.

“We also had the concern that he ran so well last time (second in the Grade III San Luis Rey Stakes on May 13), it raised the question of ‘Did you leave something on the racetrack that day?’  Obviously, he didn’t, he gained from it. 

“This is what racing should be about. Thoroughbred racing should be something like this and to not push this race and not build it up is a mistake in my mind.”

Stretching out a quarter mile from the San Luis Rey, Planetario, a two-time Group I winner in Brazil who was making his third start for Mandella, was off 5-2 in a field of six 3-year-olds and up and paid $7.40, $2.80 and $2.60.

“My horse ran very comfortably,” said Berrios, fourth in the closing date jockey standings with 21 wins and second by stakes-with five added money tallies. “I was just waiting for the favorite (second place finisher Offlee Naughty) to make his move and I think that was to our favor. 

“I put him behind Joe Bravo’s horse (Birth of Cool) and he relaxed a lot. Today, he was a way different horse than he was in his last race. He ran so strong; he left me surprised.”

To the winner’s circle for Planetario (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Owned by his breeder, Red Rafa Stud, Inc., Planetario, a 5-year-old full horse, is now 11-6-1-0 overall and with the winner’s share of $60,000, he increased his earnings to $110,548.

 “I couldn’t pick him on the replay! I didn’t get one horse all day long, but four of my horses came in last, so top that,” said Johnny Knoxville, who presented the trophy“It is our second time here. We are coming back a lot though it is fun.”

The even money favorite ridden by Umberto Rispoli, Offlee Naughty was last for most of the trip, loomed dangerously at the rail leaving the three-furlong pole but was outrun around the turn while getting shuffled back. Undeterred, he found his best stride late and rallied strongly for the place, finishing a nose in front of longshot Rimprotector.

In search of his third graded stakes win, Offlee Naughty returned $2.40 and $2.10.

Ridden by Kyle Frey, Rimprotector sat third for most of the trip and paid $4.20 as the longest shot in the field at 21-1.

Irish-bred Duvet Day, the lone filly in the lineup, finished a length back in fourth with Juan Hernandez up.

Fractions on the San Juan Capistrano were 24.42, 48.80, 1:13.77, 1:40.71 and 2:07.40.

Sunday is Santa Anita’s 28-day Hollywood Meet’s closing day. Live racing will return to Arcadia with opening day of the 2023 Autumn Meet on Friday, Sept. 29.

Santa Anita Park will host a record 11th Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Nov. 3 & 4.

@jonathanstettin wish i had words to express after reading this. Thank you

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