Watsonville Gives Glatt an Opening Day Hat Trick 

December 26, 2023

Watsonville (inside #7) denies Favored Almendares by a nose in the Grade II, $200,000 Mathis Mile. (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Jockey Antonio Fresu gets a Stakes Double on Opening Day

Mike Willman/Santa Anita Press Box

ARCADIA, Calif.—In an extraordinary effort, Mark Glatt’s upstart Watsonville would not be denied in Tuesday’s Grade II, $200,000 Mathis Mile, as he bested heavily favored Almendares by a nose, providing Glatt with an opening day Hat Trick and jockey Antonio Fresu with a riding double as Watsonville got the one mile turf affair in 1:34.55.

Naturally quick from his outside post, Watsonville sat just off of longshot Calm Sea into the first turn and stalked him up the backside, eventually gaining the advantage midway around the far turn, however Calm Sea battled back gamely turning for home, at which point Almendares put a head in front a sixteenth of a mile out.

From there, Watsonville seemed to relish the fight, battling back gamely with the favorite to his outside and prevailing narrowly on the money in his first stakes triumph. 

Fourth in the Grade I Hollywood Derby Dec. 2, Watsonville, who in his only other start at one mile on turf broke his maiden four starts back on July 29, was off at 9-2 and paid $11.00, $3.80 and $2.60.

Owned by Pine Racing Stables and Saints or Sinners, Watsonville, a 3-year-old colt by the War Front stallion Jack Milton, Watsonville picked up $120,000 for the win and now has three wins from seven starts.

Ridden by Flavien Prat, English-bred Almendares, off at 3-5, lost a heartbreaker and returned $2.80 and $2.10 while finishing three quarters of a length in front of Irish-bred Dandy Man Shines.

Ridden by Umberto Rispoli, Dandy Man Shines was off at 5-2 and paid $2.20 to show.

Fractions on the Mathis Mile were 23.77, 48.20, 1:11.76 and 1:23.16.

Grade II, $200,000 Mathis Mile Stakes Quotes

Antonio Fresu gets a Stakes Double on opening day. (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)
Antonio Fresu gets a Stakes Double on opening day. (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Jockey Quotes

Antonio Fresu, Watsonville, Winner: “I wanted to keep him up close today and give him a target. When he hit the front, he pricked his ears, and he was off. The favorite actually passed us, but my horse dug in. He continues to get better and better. I won twice with him, and he was always green. The last race (Hollywood Derby) was too far for him. I just thought if we were in a better position today, he would respond.”

Owner Quotes

Ana Maron, Saints And Sinners, Watsonville, Winner: “It is just emotional because Watsonville went through a lot when he was younger. We didn’t know if he would make it, so all of us were just kneeling and praying that he would make it through, so seeing him come this far it is exhilarating.

Mark Pine, Pine Racing Stables, Watsonville, Winner: I Grew up in a town called Watsonville in Monterey Bay and so I decided to name him after that. But I asked Hans first, because it was sort of a weird name.

Hans Maron, Saints And Sinners, Watsonville, Winner: “Two for two you can never complain about that, we’ve showed up and we have been very fortunate in this game so far.”

Presenter Quotes

Ritt Mathis, Mathis Home, Presenter: “We are just so proud of this park and the opening day event is just such a great thing to be a part of. For us the charitable connection of being able to support CARMA and Thoroughbred After Care, putting the horse first on a day like today where we are all out here celebrating is what makes it feel really good and what is in the center of our partnership. Trying to look after horses and just being in love with these beautiful athletes.”

@AmWager @jontahnstettin @GulfstreamPark And starts off the daywith a winner.

Ian Meyers @ihmeyers View testimonials