ARCADIA, Calif. -- Each time he returns from a layoff, Jeranimo seems to get better.
He was off for six months from April to October of 2009 and returned for a seven-race campaign that was highlighted by a win in the Grade 2 Strub Stakes last February.
Jeranimo was sidelined again in March of this year, because of a tibia injury, and returned to racing in October. Monday, in the third start of his current campaign, Jeranimo won the second Grade 2 stakes of his career in the $150,000 San Gabriel Stakes on turf at Santa Anita.
The victory did not surprise trainer Mike Pender, who said he has been amazed at the 4-year-old's recent exercise.
"When he was training as good as he was when he left, I knew he could be just as good," Pender said. "He gives us such an explosion in the morning. I have to anchor him in the first part of the works."
Jockey Rafael Bejarano rode Jeranimo in a similar style in the San Gabriel, which was run at 1 1/8 miles. Bejarano kept Jeranimo on the inside throughout, racing fifth on the backstretch. Jeranimo moved closer in early stretch, and took the lead from Proudinsky in the final eighth, winning by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:47.20.
"When [Proudinsky] came out a bit in the stretch, I got the opportunity and my horse came running," Bejarano said.
Proudinsky held second, finishing 2 1/2 lengths in front of 7-10 favorite The Usual Q.T. in the field of seven. The Usual Q.T. was third in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6, in his most recent start prior to the San Gabriel.
The loss by The Usual Q.T. did not surprise trainer Jim Cassidy. "He just got tired," Cassidy said after The Usual Q.T's was unsaddled. "He missed three works and the work he got in [on Dec. 10] was not enough. It showed how classy he is to finish third. He's breathing like a steam engine."
Jeranimo, 4, has won 5 of 15 starts and $429,400 for owner B.J. Wright. He won an allowance race at Hollywood Park on Nov. 27 in his turf debut. Monday's victory has led Wright and Pender to plan for a start in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Turf for California-breds and Florida-breds here on Jan. 29. The same race is on The Usual Q.T.'s schedule.
California Nectar captures first stakes in California Breeders'
California Nectar won her first stakes in the $100,000 California Breeders' Champion Stakes for statebred 2-year-old fillies, benefiting from an ideal ride from jockey Patrick Valenzuela.
California Nectar ($10.80) stalked Teddy's Promise, the 4-5 favorite, through a quick early pace of 22.28 and 44.50 seconds, took the lead in early stretch, and won by 1 1/2 lengths over 5-1 Warren's Flyer. Bathing Beauty was third in the field of seven. Teddy's Promise faded to finish fourth.
California Nectar has won 2 of 6 starts and $123,800 for owner-breeder Pablo Suarez and trainer Doug O'Neill. She was second by a nose in the California Cup Juvenile Fillies at Hollywood Park in October.
For Valenzuela, the victory was his first in a stakes at Santa Anita in more than four years. He was out of action in this state from late 2007 until this summer because of a violation of his conditional license, which led to him riding in Louisiana and New Mexico during that time.