The Santa Anita Handicap is won by Stilleto Boy for Ed Moger Jr.


Ed Moger Jr. has been a trainer for more than four decades, and his horses have won a lot of races, but none bigger than Saturday’s Grade 1 $500,000 Santa Anita Handicap. Stilleto Boy ran down the favorite Defunded and held off a charging Proxy to win by a neck.

“Probably of all the races in California, this one is a bigger race than the Pacific Classic [at Del Mar],” Moger said. “It’s like the Kentucky Derby of California.”

The horse was bought by Moger’s brother, Steve, for $420,000. Steve did not seek his brother’s advice when making the purchase.

“I would have told him it was too much,” Moger said. “Turns out to be a good move. We’ve only won two races with him but we’ve had a blast. It feels like we’ve won 100 races.”

Stilleto Boy paid $29.80 to win. Proxy was followed by Defunded, Hopper, There Goes Harvard, Tisquantum, Newgrange, Warrant and Heywoods Beach.

Moger thinks the 5-year-old’s next race could be the Oaklawn Handicap or possibly the Metropolitan Mile.

The win was also part redemption for Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, who was allowed to run this meeting at Santa Anita after a series of incidents that landed him a ban and suspension from the California Horse Racing Board. He has admitted having a problem with alcohol throughout his career.

“For me, after my life of off-the-race-track debacles, it shows that I’ve come full circle and we can put that to bed and I can continue with my career,” Desormeaux said. “It’s going to be up to me to stay clean.”

It was Desormeaux’s third win in the Big ‘Cap, with previous victories in 2002 (Milwaukee Brew) and 1992 (Best Pal).

In other graded stakes races, Gold Phoenix ($23.60) bulled his way between horses and outkicked Du Jour to win the Grade 1 $500,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile on the turf by a neck. Winning trainer Phil D’Amato gave a lot of credit to jockey Kazushi Kimura, who is new to the Santa Anita jockey colony.

“This kid has ridden two horses for me now and both wins,” D’Amato said of Kimura, 23. He saved every inch of ground, waited, split horses and did everything I told him. … I can’t say enough about the great ride.”

Quattroelle ($8.60) won the Grade 2 $200,000 Buena Vista Stakes for older fillies and mares, going a mile on the turf. The 5-year-old mare made a strong move deep in the stretch to win by half a length for trainer Jeff Mullins and jockey Hector Barrios.

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