Leading Jock Hernandez rings up his 100th win, 22 in stakes
ARCADIA, Calif.—In her first start for trainer Sean McCarthy, Under the Stars broke cleanly from the gate, attended the early pace set by her stablemate Ganadora and shook off a determined bid from Lady T to take Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita by 1 ¼ lengths.
Ridden by leading man Juan Hernandez, who rang up his 100th win of the meet and his league-leading 22nd stakes victory, Under the Stars got a mile and one sixteenth in 1:43.51.
“It means a lot. I’m really happy and I’m really thankful to the owners and trainers who have been supporting me. You know this title is for my family back in Mexico and my family here, so I’m really happy. Hopefully we can keep winning races,” said Hernandez about his riding title.
Under the Stars, who lost all chance after stumbling badly in the Grade II Santa Anita Oaks April 9, was lapped on Ganadora to her inside around the Club House turn and drew alongside three furlongs out. Leaving the quarter pole, Under the Stars enjoyed a one length advantage but was quickly engaged to her outside by Lady T, who couldn’t go with the winner a furlong from home.
“I never had the opportunity to work her, but I watched the replays and she’s a really kind filly,” said Hernandez, who tripled on the day. “You can do whatever you want with her. She can come from behind like today, she’s just a really nice filly.
“…Around the three eighths, she felt the outside horse and she started to pick it up on her own and I felt like she was good. So, I just let her go.”
Originally trained by currently suspended Bob Baffert, Under the Stars, who won the Grade II Santa Ynez Stakes at seven furlongs three starts back on Jan. 8, was the second choice in a field of seven sophomore fillies today and paid $9.20, $5.00 and $2.60.
“Fortunately, she got away cleanly today,” said McCarthy, who saddled his second winner on the day and trained the winner of yesterday’s Grade III Affirmed Stakes, Hopper. “She stumbled badly in the Oaks, and it pretty much took her out of contention, which happened to the favorite today.
“I gotta credit Jimmy Barnes and the whole crew. They did a lot of schooling with her in the paddock. She can get (excited) and today, she was very calm and composed, which I liked. She’s put a little weight on since the Santa Anita Oaks, had some time leading into this race, so that helped her obviously. She came in fresh, and she showed it today.”
Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Lady T, who came off a 14 ½ length maiden win going one mile here on May 15, broke from the far outside and attended the pace throughout but was no match for Under the Stars when it counted in a solid effort.
Off at 6-1, she was nine lengths clear of Desert Dawn at the wire and paid $6.60 and $2.60.
The upset winner of the Santa Anita Oaks two starts back and most recently a big third in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks May 6, Arizona-bred Desert Dawn went to her nose shortly out of the gate, was shuffled back to last and did well to post a third-place finish.
Off at 3-5 under Umberto Rispoli, Desert Dawn paid $2.10 to show while finishing 2 ¼ lengths in front of Ganadora.
Fractions on the race were 22.94, 47.28, 1:11.66 and 1:37.09.
Santa Anita’s Winter/Spring Meet enters its final week with first post time for an 11-race card on Friday at 1 p.m.
Mike Willman/Santa Anita Park
Photo by Benoit Photos